Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Finding Inspiration ...

Several months ago I stumbled across a beautiful blog called Beneath My Heart. I'm drawn to this blog for many reasons but I've found that every Wednesday I anticipate Traci's posts titled "Wednesdays With Wanda". Wanda was her mother, whom she lost in September 2009. Every Wednesday Traci posts an inspirational story about her mother, rooted in faith and love ... I normally have to grab a tissue before I even finish reading post.

I'm linking you over to her blog and her latest "Wednesdays With Wanda" post where she has shared the recipe and story of "Easter Story Cookies".

You won't regret taking a moment to check out her blog ... I guarantee you'll be drawn to the love, faith and inspiration she shares with us!

Friday, March 26, 2010

Travel Felt Mat TUTORIAL!

Here it is folks ... my Travel Felt Mat Tutorial! I guest posted this tutorial over at Imperfectly Beautiful a few weeks ago but in case you missed it, I'm re-posting it directly on my blog! If you didn't catch the my original Handmade Travel Toys post ... you can visit it it HERE.

I've also had a few requests to list these in my Etsy shop ... not quite sure when I'll add them but be on the lookout for a GIVEAWAY after my Awareness Ribbon Applique Giveaway ends! (hint hint)

Travel Felt Mat
We live in Europe and do a lot of traveling ... this little fold-n-go felt mat with storage pockets has been a hit with Kelty.

Felt, Cute Fabric, Iron-On Velcro

Step 1: Lay your "cute" fabric face down on your felt

Step 2: Cut your fabric 18" long by 11" wide

Step 3: Sew three of your sides together (both long sides and one short side)
It will look like an inside out "pillowcase"!

Step 4: Turn your "pillowcase" inside out so the printed side of your fabric is facing out. Press with an iron for nice crisp edges.

Step 5: Now, for the little tab that keeps your felt mat rolled-up secure! Cut a scrap piece of your fabric, approx. 10" long by 3" wide.

Step 6: Fold the scrap piece in half (right sides facing eachother) and sew three sides (just like you did for the main piece). Turn it inside-out and iron ... now it will look like the photo above!

Step 7: Now insert the edge of that cute little tab into the open side of your "pillowcase". Now sew your "pilowcase" closed, sewing the little tab into the seam as you go.

Step 8: So lets make those edges look nice ... you're almost done! Sew a nice straight stitch around all 4 edges of your felt mat.

Step 9: Now, let's make that storage pocket! Fold one side of your felt mat in about 4 inches ...

Step 10: Sew up along both edges to make that pocket ...

Step 11: Find your center point of the pocket and make a straight stitch up the middle ... now you have 2 pockets!

Step 12: Now to finish it off! Take a small square of your iron-on velcro and iron it on the inside of your tab (Don't iron directly on the velcro ... just press it from the other side!)

Step 13: Fold your cute little mat in thirds and iron on the the other piece of velcro!

Voila! You're done!

Now find some felt scraps and have fun creating little felt play scenes!

I hope you made it through the tutorial without any "what the?" shouted at the computer screen! If you have any questions just leave a comment and I'll help you out!

I'm linking this to ..

Keeping It Simple

Show and Tell Green

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Awareness Ribbon Fabric Applique - GIVEAWAY!

This is my FIRST giveaway and I can't think of one that would be more meaningful to me and my family!

I introduced an Awareness Ribbon Fabric Applique Set in my ChichiKids Etsy shop today. I'll be offering an entire line of Awareness Ribbons, but I've started with one that is near and dear to my family. All of my April profits from my Awareness Ribbon Applique sales will be donated to my sister, Rachel, in her efforts to raise money for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society during the MS Walk in Myrtle Beach, SC on May 16th. Why is this an important cause for us? Our father is battling Primary Progressive Multiple Sclerosis. There is NO CURE for MS and drugs to help battle the effects of MS are not effective for Primary Progressive. But we continue to fight for a cure, raise money for research and most importantly ... LOVE my father and SUPPORT his fight.

This year I'm not able to walk for my father ... we don't have a chapter in Europe, so I'm doing what I can to contribute.

The GiVeaWaY!

I'm giving away one CUSTOM Iron-On, Awareness Ribbon Fabric Applique Set in the fabric and personalization of the "winners" choice! The awareness ribbon measures 4 1/2 inches by 3 inches; letters are between 1 and 1 1/2 inches each. There are countless "Colors of Awareness" that have been adopted by groups to bring awareness to their cause. The "winners" applique will be customized to show support for any cause or issue that is meaningful to them!

Multiple Sclerosis Inspired - Awareness Ribbon sample

Breast Cancer Inspired - Awareness Ribbon sample

How to Enter!

1st entry: Leave a comment and tell me what cause or issue you support! That's it! You don't have to "follow me", you don't even have to visit my Etsy shop ... just leave a comment!

2nd entry: Spread the word! Post about the giveaway on your blog and in a separate comment leave me the link to your post!

3rd entry: Send friends over! In a separate comment, let me know who you sent my way and make sure they give you a shout-out in the comment they leave!

Giveaway ends on Thursday, April 1st @ Midnight EST.

Now go comment!

I'm linking this too ..

Someday Crafts (Whatever Goes Wednesday)

Monday, March 22, 2010

Where There is Sunshine ... There Are Smiles

I'm taking a chance and saying Spring may finally be upon us! It has warmed up enough to let the kids out of their winter cages ... the clouds have parted and the sun has poked through! I took Kelty to the park the other day and I believe every parent had the same idea ... it was pure chaos at the park ... kids were screaming, running, climbing, they were free! It was really a sight to take in!

I've been outside a lot with Kelty these last few days and he has been so HAPPY!

A little morning "craft time"

Fun with pipe cleaners

Working on our "acting skills" ....

Kelty and I "acted out" the first 15 minutes or so of the "Bee Movie" ... Kelty hopped in his car while the bee's were driving in the movie. I was sporting a pair of antenna's too ... however, I will spare you that photo.

I spent Keltys' nap time cleaning up a winters worth of chihuahua poo, raked the back yard and freshened up his play area ... the yard was ready for Kelty by the time he woke up!

Yes ... I know his hair is getting long.


This morning we headed out to Kelty's speech appointment ... he's been sporting his "man bag" the last few days! Ha! Don't tell Al I let him carry it around in public!

After our appointment we met up with some of his buddies at the park on base ... they had an absolute blast and were so DIRTY by the end of our visit!

AND THEN ......

... after walking in the door from a morning of fun, Kelty picked up a foam sticker dot off the floor from our "craft time" the other day ... a random scrap on the floor that fell under the table.

As he was poised with the dot on his finger and by his nose, I said "Kelty, don't you dare put that in your nose" ... he paused ... he put in his nose .... and ... he sniffed!

I packed him up and we headed BACK to Landstuhl (for the 2nd time that day).

This is what Kelty sniffed up his nose ... I brought in an example. The "dot" was already out of sight, no amount of digging by the doctors revealed the "dot". The docs think it's already made its way into his throat and he swallowed it ... we'll wait and see if it comes out the other end.

In case you were wondering ... these are not the size stickers I let Kelty play with. Occasionally the foam stickers have little "punch outs" so you can get a little eye hole for an animal or pop out the window of a car. This little dot was one of those little scraps that I happened to miss when I cleaned up after craft time!

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Polish Pottery - The Aftermath

I stole a moment to take some snapshots of "my pattern" ... I came home with 37 pieces of pottery ... I won't show you ALL of them! Here are just a few photos!!

This is the piece that started it all! I fell in love with the "pop" of turquoise and the deep rich brown ... both colors didn't seem to be too common in traditional Polish pottery, especially the turquoise ... not to be confused with the light blue! I bought two "crocks", this is the smaller of the two. These are oven and microwave safe ... I have a vision of using these for Gluhwein, ciders, and punches!

This pattern is made exclusively by Ceramika Artystycnza.

I bought 8 coordinating mugs. "My" pattern was VERY scarce ... in fact I could only find 2 little mugs in the pattern, so I broke out of my comfort zone and found "coordinating" mugs! I was so proud of myself for buying mugs that didn't "match" but "coordinated"!

I could not pass up this spoon!! It was the equivalent of like $1.50!

I just happened to find this website that sells "my" pattern of pottery from Artystyczna ... the creamer they are selling for $20.00 cost me a mere $4.00! They are selling my $1.50 spoon for $10.00!

... and this is how I DOUBLED my total spending on the last day! We stopped to visit Ceramika Millena which is known for their "contemporary" pottery. They are family owned and operated, in fact their workshop and kilns are out in plain view when you enter their building. They also use locally procured clay which is awesome!

I did some "coordinating" instead of "matching" here too! Whoa ... what's happening to me! I envision using these pieces for breakfasts casseroles and juice! I bought this dish, 6 goblets, and a few other coordinating pieces.

I hope you like "my" patterns ... and it's OK if you don't too. :o) Like I said, I wasn't sure I even LIKED Polish pottery until I was actually there!

So ... next time I go to Poland for another "combat shopping" trip ... just go ahead and place your orders through me and I'll pick it up for you!

Friday, March 19, 2010

Pottery Shopping In Poland

Last weekend I experienced my first Polish Pottery shopping trip to Boleslawiec, Poland ... I've heard these shopping excursions referred to as "combat shopping" ... and I totally get it now!

A group of spouses from the squadron caravaned to Poland ... it was a quick 7 1/2 hour drive (especially when your chatting the entire trip)! We left Friday morning and arrived in Poland in time for a few "spa treatments" and a nice dinner at the Blue Beetroot (the Inn/B&B). The Blue Beetroot is a restored 18th century barn owned by a wonderful English couple that "retired" in Poland ... it was truly charming and beautiful ... and the owners were extremely helpful (as you will soon see) ......

After a great Polish dinner (perogies!!) we retired to our rooms so we could get a 6am start in the morning ....

... we had a yummy little breakfast with GREAT coffee
... hopped in the cars
... and

... I conveniently ran over a piece of metal while pulling out of the parking area and slashed the tire! It started with just a few of us girls getting ready to put on the spare .....

... then the crowd grew

... and grew
... and grew!

It literally got the point where I couldn't even get close enough to my own vehicle to change the tire (which I knew how to do!). As you can see, I retired to the background and just went with the flow ... they guys were pretty persistent in solving this problem for the "damsel in distress". Sigh. After realizing that we DIDN'T have a full-size spare ... I called Al to work out some options. The spare is only rated to 45 mph ... yikes!

I did find a can of fix-a-flat ... if it were only that easy!!

The owner, Barbara ... kindly insisted on finding a tire for us while we were out shopping for the day! She had a "tire guy" and I don't speak Polish so my willingness to stay behind to find a tire would have been pointless. I accepted her offer and we left for a day of shopping!

Floor to ceiling pottery! We hit a total of 13 stores!

Before this trip, I wasn't even certain I LIKED Polish pottery ... I'm pretty attached to my Fiestaware ... but it was only a matter of time before I fell in love with a pattern and was throwing elbows and hoarding everything I could find in "my pattern". The pottery is all handmade and for the most part, shops sell their pieces directly out of their pottery studio ... it's not like these shops have a storage room with extra pieces ... most of the time, what you see is what you can get!

One of the pottery studios.

So .... it wasn't until after we got back Saturday evening from our shopping excursion that Barbara regretfully told me that there were no 19" tires to be found .... SUV's and big tires are not common, especially in Poland!! We really had very limited options ... we were in Poland people ... Tire Kingdoms and businesses in the like are not to be found here! Even getting your insurance involved is not as easy as a road-side assistance phone call. After an evening of phone calls between Al and I we decided our inconvenient but only option was to drive back SLOW on our spare and if it felt uncomfortable we would stop in Germany and work out tow arrangements. Sigh. Not fun.

Thankfully, as we were wrapping up our evening with dinner at the Blue Beetroot, Barbara came up to share the news that one of her kitchen staff had a relative that just got in from Luxembourg with a tire order ... and he had one that "would work"! The next morning I drove with Barbara (and my friend Chrissy) to get the tire. It was a low-profile tire ... bigger than the spare but not as big as our other tires ... but it had a good speed rating and worked! We wrapped things up ... hit the road ... stopped at 1 last pottery shopped (where I DOUBLED my spending total!) and had a safe and pleasant drive back)!

... and that my friends, was our fun and fearless trip to Poland! I'm just not driving next time!

Oh! I did bring "My Sister's Shoe's" and I will be sharing the photos in a post of it's own.
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