Friday, June 29, 2012

melty-mania!

  We've been going color crazy here lately!

Do you know that feeling of constantly being amazed how kids seem to outgrow toys and clothes faster than you can sort them out? I've been trying to take stock of our crafts supplies and remembered these melty-beads my mom gave my daughter when she was in preschool (ages ago!). My youngest has been kind of restless lately - rainy summer days are no fun for little boys who want to be outside. So I got out the beads and hoping that perhaps we could use them up, he reluctantly started making colorful little mosaics.

Then he got obsessed. His older sister joined in and likewise got mesmerized.
 
A neighbor boy stopped over and made some hearts and circles. His sister saw us through the window and excitedly joined in. Our little children's craft table has become a busy factory!

(Did I mention that I am also getting a bit addicted?)
 
My son now comes home from school and goes straight to the table of melty-beads and quietly starts working. (This is not usually a quiet child). With supervision he is very proud that he is allowed to iron. It seems to have a very relaxing, maybe even mediative effect. The colors remind me of stained glass if you hang them in the window.There are many more that I did not even get in the photos here! Now we've almost used them up - but I think we're going to have to go back for more!
xoxo 
Karen



Wednesday, June 27, 2012

easy crafts for kids: paper ladybug

This is an adorable ladybug made of folded paper that kids will love to make.
You will need:
red and black construction paper
black marker
pencil
scissors
glue
white paper or plastic craft eyes
You will also need some construction paper to make a circle template for the body and a template for the legs.
First, cut the red paper to a square, approx 6 or 8 inches (15-20 cm). You can make squares in different sizes to make an entire ladybug family!

Fold this square 3 times:
once in half
twice diagonally
Open it up again.
 
Now gently push the sides towards the middle to create a triangle shape, press down flat.
 
Using a circle template (bottom of a glass works well) trace a circle on the triangle, making sure the circle overlaps slightly on the sides.
Cut out the circle, making sure you do not cut the sides where it overlapped!
You now have your ladybug body. Embellish it however you like. Draw on black spots or hearts or glue on bits of black paper. Make the face using paper or black marker. Add glitter or sparkles. Why not make some ladybugs in other colors? Let your child use her or his imagination and have fun!
At the end draw a template with 6 legs and trace this onto black paper. Glue it on the bottom of your ladybug. You're done!
You now have a cute ladybug to keep for yourself or give to someone special. 
 xoxo
Karen
ps feel free to leave a link to your creations in the comments!

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

little messages

So many lovely people have been stopping by to say hello and I just want to say thank you! I know it takes precious time to read and compose a comment. Every single comment always makes my day:)
I think by giving each other little messages of kindness we can all be "everyday angels".

I have a sweet friend named Ava-Maria. She is too old to be my mother but not old enough to be my grandmother. We're not the kind of friends who have known each other for ages and spend a lot of time together, but we have one of those rare and age-less connections that just made us immediately bond and feel like we have known each other all along. We seem to be in sync - she'll call me right when I'm thinking of her or we'll happen to walk past each other in town - always at a moment when one of us needs a kind word. She has had amazing experiences in her lifetime and more tragedy than is anyone's share but she is one of the most positive people I have ever met. She knows how busy I am and will often just leave a sweet message and some of her delicious homemade marzipan candies for my children in our mailbox.

We both sing in the alto section of a choir and last fall I whispered to her between songs at rehearsal about my lady-bug obsession - well actually, it is more like lady-bugs had an obsession with me (wrote about it here). Strangely enough there was a photo of a ladybug on the church newsletter a month later (and during Christmas a rather unlikely emphasis was given to Mary in our protestant church....). Ava cut out the ladybug from the newsletter and glued it on a card for me. Sometimes she'll call me and say that one just landed on her balcony flowers.

She also left this pretty postcard in my mailbox earlier this year. Last week she had missed our choir performance at a summer charity event and the next day I called to find out how she was. She has been dealing with serious health issues for over a year. But she is such a strong, dynamic, ever-faithful person! She refuses to let life's battles get her down. Within minutes - maybe seconds -of our phone call, it was her lifting me up (with tears streaming down my cheeks) and not the other way around as I had intended.

I think that truly everyday angels surround us when we open our hearts. And I think we will all have times in our lives to be the givers and the takers - often, at the very same time.

Tomorrow I will share with you a cute and simple paper ladybug craft you can make with children. I think Ava-Maria would like it, in fact, I think I'll leave one in her mailbox with a little message.

Happy Tuesday! 
xoxo
Karen



Wednesday, June 20, 2012

herb garden & books that inspire

Favorite books are like old friends. The longer you've had them, the closer to your heart they seem to grow.

Lovely books inspire me. I'm sure many a book has helped transform dreams into reality.
 
As the year progresses I find myself turning to seasonal books on the bookshelf, turning the pages and seeing familiar images, re-remembering little bits of information that have gotten dusty in my mind. Or even better, discovering "new" things that for some reason, didn't speak to me in previous viewings but now pop out with a newfound meaning or understanding.

These are the old friends I've been visiting this week.
The first book by Tessa Evelegh is about lavender and I see from the copyright that it was translated from English.  It is a very lovely book with history and photos of various types of lavender, but most of the book is devoted to recipes, crafts ideas, decorating projects and no end of gorgeous lavender images.

The other book is Geraldine Holt's "Complete Book of Herbs"  - also  translated from English and apparently is no longer being published but is available used here. There is a plethora of information and ideas for practical and decorative uses of herbs.

There are so many delicious looking recipes here and I have it on my summer to-do list to try several of them. This book was quite a motivator for me when we planned our herb garden - or herb spiral - about 10 years ago.

At that time my husband was working on a wall project in our garden and we had a huge delivery of rocks. With the leftover rocks I built this spiral-shaped structure in a sunny spot. The actual design of an herb-spiral was an idea from a different book from the library and entire books are dedicated to this subject. Apparently this is not a new idea at all but was used in castles and monasteries since the middle-ages if not earlier.

The idea behind this structure is that the plants that want a drier soil go up at the top (i.e. rosemary, lavender, oregano) and the herbs thriving in a moister climate (chives, parsley etc) should be planted at the bottom. Mint and lemon balm are happy anywhere and can go in the middle. The sun-warmed stones serve as a heat tank which the herbs love. There are many technical drawings showing exactly where certain herbs should be planted, for example here

This spring I decided most of the herbs had gone a bit crazy so we pulled out nearly everything and started fresh. This is what it looked like in May ready to get a fresh new start.
I planted several types of mint, lemon balm, sage, sorrel, my husband added the borage, parsley and chives.

And many things came back, the chamomile, the pimpinella, more lemon balm! 
My dream is to make "green sauce"  completely from our garden -  a delicious sauce of herbs which is said to be a favorite of Goethe - but you must have at least seven of the right herbs.
 
 This is what the spiral looks like right now - this morning - in the pouring rain:
Yes, there are sunflowers growing at the bottom and already blocking the view of the lavender. I know they don't truly belong there ( I certainly did not plant them there!)....and it is not so nice when birds visit and leave their droppings on the herbs below :) As soon as they open their pretty faces they will come into a vase. 

Wishing you a lovely start of the summer!
xoxo
Karen

Monday, June 18, 2012

vintage crochet & linen

Granny-chic project, part two...

One of the doilies in my stash of thrift shop treasures is a lovely square and I have used it to make a pretty tote bag.

I think the ivory crochet looks so pretty with this pale gray linen. My supply of this beautiful fabric from Ikea is slowly coming to an end. Which means of course we'll be forced to return sometime this summer... :) 

Usually when I sew, I try to work as neatly as possible. Everything crisply ironed, perfectly (or as best I can) straight seams, careful attention to every detail and of course no long threads or fraying edges.
 
However, as this bag was emerging without a pattern or much forethought, I saw the shabby fringed edges and immediately knew this was going to turn into a sort of deconstructed imperfect and very lovable object.

And I do love it! I left the edges of the inner pocket and handles unfinished - and the pocket is not a perfect square either. Slung over one shoulder, it is casual and matches this new chevron summer top perfectly. (See more from this Swedish designer of beautiful textiles)
 

I think the rest of my doilies will go onto new items for sale in my shops. They are so inspiring!

Have a lovely Monday! 
xoxo
Karen

Friday, June 15, 2012

Granny Chic Crochet Canvas Art

Hello lovely blog readers!

Do you like the granny-chic look?  Colorful crochet blankets, thrift shop remakes, creative decorating with handmade items that bring unknown stories from another life with them?  If so, then I hope you will enjoy this project!
Last week I discovered an unassuming plastic laundry basket full of vintage ivory and white crochet doilies way in the back of our local little thrift shop. Square, rectangle, circle, tiny, large - the whole range was available at prices that leave any flea market fan light-headed. Absolutely in perfect condition and all carefully handmade.
It makes me wonder who the women were who made them and what their stories were. Each hand-crafted bit of lace is an art work in itself to me.

I sifted through the top layer and just took a few home with me. I thought I would leave some for someone else. After making a lovely bag which I will show you next time, as well as these fun art canvases, I'm starting to think, that the "someone else" might be me on a return trip!!!

One of my finds was a rectangular table runner which looks so pretty with a simple bouquet of  lavender and daisies from the garden.

The truth is I have no idea how to crochet. Someday my sweet Finnish friend M. who makes the most beautiful crochet art has promised to teach me when we finally meet. Until then, I am really thrilled to have a little pile of these pretty doilies in my stash.

So the first project I had in mind was a bit of decoration for the wall behind our sofa.

What you will need for this project is a bit of linen (or any fabric will do), a doily, a sewing machine and a regular office stapler. And of course an art canvas, you can use the cheapest one you can find for this project.

Iron the fabric and cut it a bit larger than the canvas. Make sure you have enough on the sides to fold up onto the back of the canvas.

Now center and pin down your doily. I used a zig-zig stitch with my machine to stitch it down. You'll have to go a bit slow and gently flatten down the doily as you go to avoid it bunching up at the end. The stitch in the same thread color really won't show. I used rather large stitches. Perhaps someday I will recycle these again and they will be easy to remove.

Spread the fabric out under the canvas and start stapling - start on one side, staple in the middle, then the opposite side, pulling it taut, staple in the middle, and so on until you have one staple in the middle of each side. Now you can fold/twist up the corners. Staple all around so the fabric is pulled taut everywhere.
 
Hang up your granny chic art and enjoy!
(You might end up making several of these -it's addicting!) 
 
 xoxo 
Karen

Thursday, June 14, 2012

strawberry love forever

Cold dreary raindrops have been pelting down on my sad strawberry patch the last several days.  From visiting your blogs and flickr photos this morning I see we are not the only ones dealing with this dismal weather. I just hope the strawberries are getting nice and juicy and not devoured by snails! Luckily, we have enjoyed some sunny hours gathering berries and perhaps the sunshine will return soon.

Our garden is truly a family adventure. My husband keeps the rows neat and tidy and all three children have helped me fill up countless bowlfuls to eat fresh or make into jam.
I found the cute strawberry heart labels here. (Too bad my color printer is not working, but b&w looks sweet too don't you think!) I consider myself new to to jam making but actually I've probably been making fruit preserves for 10 years or so now!

My mom wasn't the jam-making homemaker type - she had a full-time job and in her free time was more drawn to the sewing machine (thank you Mom, for teaching me to sew!!). We grew up with two kinds of jelly - grape jelly to go on the peanut-butter sandwiches - and orange marmalade for Sunday morning popovers (otherwise known as Yorkshire pudding). And I remember being told to spread it thinly on my toast!
As an adult I really wanted to learn how to make it myself and thanks to a helpful girlfriend and some tips from my mother-in-law I have now gained much confidence and experience - I can practically make it in my sleep :)  We have so many berries growing in our garden that our cellar overflows with jars of jam and jelly and I am constantly giving it away and we still have too much for ourselves.

Wishing you a sunny day and much abundance regardless of the weather!
 xoxo
Karen