Category Archives: crafts

My Favorite Online Stores

Did you know you can buy local and support small businesses while still enjoying the convenience of buying online? Sometimes you have to go with a huge store, but not always!

GlassGirlJen on Etsy – gorgeous pieces. We’re not talking “etched glass” here. She deeply engraves into a wide variety of glassware. This is still one my favorites for wedding gifts, but great for a first Christmas, first Christmas in your own apartment, etc.

Clever hand-crocheted items. I met this woman and her daughter at a local craft fair. She doesn’t work from patterns, she just creates it. And all of her work is beautiful and baby-proof! Message her ASAP to let her know what you want. Her prices are very reasonable!

Amazon – I do have a caveat, however. Amazon lets OTHER companies sell through them now. Unless you have bought from that particular company before don’t chance it for a holiday gift. I ordered a cute Tshirt in an XL. I’m not a fan of the skin-tight T. This one is so small enough for a ten-year-old. So now I’m searching Pinterest for a way to up-size the shirt.¬† I do ADORE Amazon Prime though, since I do MUCH more last-minute shopping these days. ALSO, it’s one of the best places to find the best new indie-published books you won’t find in bookstore! SO many great authors are going the indie route. Lisa Tapp, Joan Kayse, and Ian Eviston to name just a few!

Target – I love Target because I can order online and select “ship to store” for free. This means that even if everything is already IN my store someone will gather it up for me. I pay online and just pick it up at the service desk. No impulse shopping, no forgetting I went in with a list and a price limit. Which is good, since THIS just happened:

Primary – This is my new addiction. Right now they only make basic clothes in solid colors (MANY colors!) with no labels (school-friendly) for kids. I want an adult line. I wouldn’t wear anything else most days. And it’s very high-quality with reasonable prices. They even have two weights for many of their pieces, so I can buy a hoodies for kiddos in Texas AND Kentucky. Sew on a few jingle bells for Christmas, add make temporary Contac paper or Duck Tape cut-outs for holidays, and one red T shirt can be cleverly current all year!

ThinkGeek – Is there anyone in your family who loves Star Trek, Star Wars, Doctor Who, Fallout, Game of Thrones, or other things not everyone else is quite as passionate about? I owned a communicator pin and Vulcan ears when the folks at ThinkGeek were in diapers, so I could spend hours browsing this store. This may well end up as a gift this year for one of my Fallout fans.
SteveSpanglerScience – This is a great gift site for adults and kids. Once I bought several items from this shop and left them in the Reading Room – kind of the home base for our docs, where they’d hang their coats, pick up their patient lists, and do computer work. They were a hit! My dad LOVES all these things. He’s an Engineer, and uses a couple of the toys to analyze his new students or faculty while he’s chatting with them.

Newegg.com – I don’t go here without being given a link. It’s computer parts. As in, you take your CPU apart and put things in. My sons tell me they have GREAT deals. If you have a computer nerd on your list send them the link to browse. They’ll be excited!

Nerium – Awesome stuff. My husband uses the same cheap shampoo to wash his hair, face, and body. I swear. I only very recently got him started on a leave-in conditioner, which he LOVES. After thirty-one years I’m finally getting him to take a couple of baby steps towards taking care of himself. He takes EHT (brain booster) daily because his mother died of Alzheimer’s. He uses the Youth Factor powder because I told him he could drink a bottle of this fruit-flavored stuff a day or he could eat a variety of fruits and veggies every day. He chose the powder. I ADORE leafy green veggies, and my memory loss is all pain and medication induced.

So I use the stuff that makes me look good ūüôā Night Cream and Firm are the products that someone would have to pry from my cold, dead hands. This time of year we always have discounted Gift Packs for as long as they last. If I had to guess I’d say 75% of sales are people stocking up on their favorites for cheap and 25% actual gifts. Have you ever bought something intending to gift it. . . then kept it for yourself? *waving hand wildly*

So shop, shop away! But since my sweet, wonderful grandmother went full-out crazy every Christmas (which led to a woman she hired to do her shopping maxing out her credit cards her last Christmas at home and then just saying everything was stolen from the trunk) I’m a calm shopper. I plan ahead, I shop evenly for my children, and Michael and I have never shopped for each other. Not since the year we got engaged.

Some people do three gifts, for the three wise men. My personal favorite (and the one Michael is holding me to even though this is our first year with a granddaughter) is Something they Want, Something they Need, Something to Wear, and Something to Read. Yes, of course both Michael and Mom have asked me exactly HOW I know what Emma wants. Well, I’ve known it since before she was born. They’d just better take pictures in Austin to PROVE it!

 

I took creative license on this one, but it works.I hope everyone had a geat Thanksgiving!

Exciting New Hobbies!

GREAT prompts over at Mama Kat’s this week! There were at least three I was ready to tackle, but of course that’s my problem: I want to tackle everything, and just can’t physically do it. I’ve been in constant pain since 2009. I haven’t been able to work since 2011. I’m still battling to get disability benefits.

But even after all that time I still really want to do it all. If it can be done in 15 minute increments and allows me to lie down for twenty out of twenty-four hours I can do it. Oh, and it can’t involve any lifting, pushing, or pulling, or really much movement at all. I’m like a grumpy talking statue – reclining bitch, perhaps? Oh, and I have a bad tremor. It’s in both hands, and it gets worse the harder I try to hold my hand steady.

Keep all that in mind while you look at just a few of the hobbies I want to pick up. I have Pinterest boards for all of them. I’m sure everyone who knows me squirts hot coffee out their nose when they see a new pin from me. At least I’m entertaining!

Crocheting or knitting

DIY Sturdy Crochet Slipper Boots Free Pattern from SMP Craft.

Aren’t these just PERFECT as Christmas gifts for the entire family? I’d only be able to work on them on really light pain days, though. I get a bit “stabby” when the pain is bad, and someone could lose an eye.

raising chickens

Fun way to identify your birds!  Charm Leg Bands are enjoyable to see on your feathered friends...

I did a lot of research on this. I was going to make a dust bath, a sprout-munching area, little jackets for them so they couldn’t peck each other. . . and then I remembered I’m not really that fond of eggs after all.

gardening

Plants for Shade - Shade Plants - 10 Varieties That Thrive Where the Sun Don't Shine - Bob Vila

I used to LOVE gardening. If I had a frustrating day at work I’d get out the hoe, the pruners, or maybe even the chainsaw! I had everything mulched beautifully, edged with brick, and thriving. Of course now I can barely get anything into a hanging basket, let alone the ground. And then it dies in a couple of weeks anyway because I forget to water it. I can remember to feed the dogs and let them out for potty breaks, but adding in medications every four hours pretty much uses up all the brain cells not saying OUCH!

crafts with wood

Love the use of these old crates stacked and mounted with caster wheels

I haven’t given up on this one yet. My husband’s not wild about the idea of someone with a tremor using a table saw or circular saw or whatever is in the basement, but I’ve got such GREAT ideas it’s a shame to waste them!

 

exercise while dangling from big silk ribbons

classes-3

I’ve never really been flexible or coordinated, but this really makes me wish I could give it a try. My neurosurgeon would probably fire me for being an idiot, though (hopefully after he repaired my spine.)

paint rocks

make a whole bunch of these and put them everywhere in the garden

I know someone who does beautiful, intricate paintings on rocks. I’d just like to do little hearts or flowers or inspirational, uplifting sayings. Then I’d leave then all over town where people usually run or walk their dogs so they could pick them up when they’re having a bad day, then leave them for someone else to find later.

sew/quilt

Repurpose an old men's shirt.

This dress is supposedly made from a man’s shirt. I guess if you’re a size zero and buy a men’s XXL shirt it might work.¬† These sorts of things just sucker me in because of frugality. Few things make me happier than a bargain!

 

refinishing/upcyling furniture

Little Dresser To Cute Cabinet ... gutting the whole thing since she was missing a drawer anyway & added shelving & then open frame doors to complete the look

Yes, I’m the one cruising everyone’s trash the night before pickup. My husband is quite thankful I can’t actually pick up anything of significant size. I did try to talk him into fetching me a free piano last week, but I had to back down after he walked me through our house with a tape measure and proved we had nowhere to put it.

I’ll stop there, but feel free to drop by my Pinterest account next time you need a giggle. I am the most random pinner ever! I really didn’t think Pinterest was going to be a big thing when it started, so I have boards like “Good Ideas” and “Nom Nom Nom”. Yeah, it’s totally down the rabbit hole there, but it’s my happy place. Oh, one more!

making fairy houses

fairy house from oatmeal container, bark, pinecones

I’ve actually done two, but I don’t think either of them survived the winter. Gonna have to research this a bit further.More natural stuff like bark, milkweed pods, and mushrooms? More plastic and polymer clay? Or just twenty coats of polyurethane instead of ten?

When a Nonna Wants a Rocking Chair . . .

I wanted an old rocker. A rocker that had already put generations of babies to sleep. I had one many years ago – my grandmother’s, in fact. But our family will always have at least one female chocolate lab and our first, Millie, ate everything. Her preference was loafers with tassels, and she didn’t care if there were feet in them or not. Her second choice, though, was wood. She preferred it nicely painted or stained. The runners on a rocking chair were a snout-level snack when we were all away during the day *sigh*.

Anyway, I had my first grand-baby flying in from Austin (oh, and her parents) and I was by-God going to have a rocker here when they arrived. So I’d been stalking rockers on my fave online estate sale auction site, Everything But The House. Just in time I scored an old rocker we picked up about ten minutes from our house. I was glad Michael had insisted on coming with me, because there was no way I could have moved this baby on my own. I couldn’t even lift it!

It was covered in cobwebs and dust, and someone had clearly given it “a lick and a promise” with some leftover white paint about a decade ago.

Ornate curlicues had been knocked off (probably by a basketball that wasn’t supposed to be in the house) and replaced by someone who needed new bifocals.

It has an embossed leather inset seat that had been painted (EEK), has at least three major cracks, and has plain upholstery tacks holding it in place in a completely random pattern. Or perhaps Morse Code. Or by the same person who painted it after a few too many beers. Decide for yourself.

It also has lovely decorative carving on the headrest, and is way comfortable. Since I can’t sit in an ergonomic desk chair for more than fifteen minutes, this is high praise.

The chair, without even a sponge-off, went to the Graduation / Welcome Baby Emma party along with Emma’s great-great-grandparents’ card table. While I was there the rocker was never empty, despite the overstuffed chairs and sofas in abundance.

Cut-throat card games are a traditional activity at all large Ballard family gatherings, and we were packed in there like sardines. I left before the card games started, but Michael and John didn’t get home until nearly midnight. The party started at 2 p.m. – LOL!
So my question, I guess, is where do I even start? Is the embossed leather salvageable? If so, do I need to remove it and restore the wood and leather separately, then replace? The chair is very sturdy, but this section is split.

Fill with sand-able, paint-able wood filler/glue, right? Ideally, I’d like this beauty to be a deep lake blue, about the darkest blue in this upholstery fabric I bought when a local craft store went out of business. I plan to use it to cover the throw pillows on my chocolate brown sofa (matches the dogs)

But I want it distressed all to hell so it doesn’t matter if a little one scratches it with a fork or colors on it with a crayon, or if I get a bit of nail polish on the arm. And I would like brown leather on the seat, with decorative nail heads or something equally pretty and comfy. I have a large number of creative high school grads I can put to work on this project. And it can be done in stages. Emma is hopefully only one of many children to be rocked in that chair – why not leave room for each to add his or her own touch?

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