Painting Ornaments
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Painting ornaments

Every year my knitting group gets together for a handmade ornament swap and this year I though I’d combine my swap-ornament making with kid-crafting and make some cornstarch dough ornaments inspired by these.

The dough was easy enough to make (though the cornstarch gives it a sickly sweet smell) and it was easy enough to roll out, but my attempts at yarn embossing were awful and LMC’s insistence at playing with all the dough (not just her half) meant I had to keep rolling it out over and over again, which I just don’t think it was designed to do. So in the end, I had some brittle dough, a lot of ornaments missing a limb and a few with a rather prickly texture. Nothing suitable for gifting.

But, because they were no longer “precious” it meant that LMC and her dad could go to town painting them all and now I think they’re the most beautiful smudgy mud-colored things I’ve ever seen – missing legs and all.

All of this is to say, it was a valuable lesson in managing my expectations. Of course she’s going to want to the play with the salt dough like her play dough. Of course things are going to break. But you know what? At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter a jot because LMC had a great time poking and painting and hanging them up on the bottom of the tree.

So while I did have to come up with another plan for my swap ornament, I’d say all in all, it was a success.

Speaking of success – thanks to the 136 (!) of you who entered the giveaway and a very warm welcome to any of you who are staying around as new readers!

The winners chosen via random number generator are commenters Liz (#129) for the subtle kit, Rachel (#10) for the spicy kit, and Magda (#109) for the gift certificate. Congrats -I’ve sent you all an email about claiming your prize.

I’m down to the wire on my holiday crafting, with one toddler sweater on the blocking board and three more handmade projects in various stages, but the good news is come Friday, I’ve got two weeks off – one to finish everything and one to recooperate!

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It’s giveaway day on Sew Mama Sew and being in the Christmas spirit, I thought I’d participate this year by offering two Maian Shawl kits!

Each of the kits contains enough lace weight yarn to complete the shawl, a Maian pattern, a drawstring-project bag sewn by me, and a $10 gift certificate to my Ravelry store. The “Subtle” kit features Quince & Co’s Piper in Avocet as seen in the pattern sample and a dogs in galoshes project bag (note: the Piper yarn comes with hand-written tags because it came to me without any). The “Spicy” kit features two skeins of Malabrigo lace in Glazed Carrot and a fox project bag.

As an added bonus, I’m offering a third $10 gift certificate!

But wait, there’s more! I’m offering 20% off any pattern in my Ravelry store for your last-minute crafting (or gifting) needs with the code STILLTIME.

To enter, leave a comment below telling me your most (or least!) successful holiday craft project. I just had a bust yesterday trying to make a bunch of (now limbless) cornstarch dough ornaments, but my husband is still wearing the the sweater I knit him back in 2009! Also let me know if you have a subtle/spicy preference!

Entries accepted until December 12 at 5 p.m. PST

As for the gift certificates/discounts – here’s a few ideas from my self-published archive that can made in the next 16 days or less:

Bradac zoetrope Krona

IMGP3371.JPGBob & Wave CowlDomenic Duck

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From left to right:

Row 1: Bradac, Zoetrope, Krona Tam 

Row 2: Shoots & Ladders CowlBob & Wave Cowl, Domenic Duck

Row 3: Zienna Zebra, Fisherman’s Wife Beret (Free), Heartrose Cardigan

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As we’ve now done every other since 2008, the Cleaver clan (now expanded!) took our bi-annual trip down to Southern California for Thanksgiving. It’s a long trip cobbled together on buses to/from Boston and long plane flights, but the travel is worth it to see my now-distant family.

A few nights before we left Mr. Cleaver and I tried to figure out how many times we had done this Thanksgiving trip (this was the 4th): there was the year I have memorialized in a photo on my desk, when my mom  and her mom came and my cousin Preston was there and my grandmother Leota was still alive and there was only one wee member of the next generation.

Then there was the year my grandfather, now a widower, had my brother and I cook an entire Thanksgiving dinner two days before Thanksgiving and when we visited my Great Aunt Betty at her house and she gave me a little brass bird to take with me to look at and think of her. She’s since moved to a senior living community and I haven’t seen her since.

Then most recently, the year we met my little red-headed first cousin once removed, while I was pregnant with my own little red-headed girl, and we stayed with my Aunt and Uncle and went to Disneyland.

This year there was one less member of the eldest generation and two more members of the youngest.  All reminders of why its so important to make the trip, if only every other year. My uncle said it best this year  – “traditions like this don’t just happen, you have to put in the work and everyone has to pitch in.”

I’ll admit that this year, with LMC as part of the group, made for a very different experience for me – not to say she was trouble – she was spectacular on the all the travel and in adjusting to the new people and surroundings, but it really struck me how much more your attention is divided when you’re the parent of a small child. When a half an hour conversation turns into 10 minutes because she needs you in another room, or the shift in times from up late and sleeping in to early to bed, early to rise. But I loved seeing LMC read a book with her Great Aunt, or sit in her Great-Uncle’s lap to watch the Polar Express or for her to play kitchen with her cousin and try to be like the big girl. Not to mention her first experiences seeing a baby hippo, chowing down on In-N-Out fries, or taking her first pass at big-ball bowling.

To some extent, visits to my family during the Holidays have always felt a little bit nostalgic – going back to the places I loved as kid and remembering all the things we did in those backyards and houses, but this year I was reminded how great families (and I have some great family), allow you to change and grow and love you all the more for it.

And for that, I’m thankful.

Punch-Through Advent Calendar

Prepping the Advent Calendar

Prepping the Advent Calendar

I finished my homemade calendar just in time for the start of Advent today!

When I was a kid we had an Advent calendar with little numbered doors that my mom would put candies in. In truth, I can’t really remember what it looked like, butt I do remember the fun of hunting for the right door to open for the day. As an adult, we’ve purchased the crummy $1 chocolate ones with the smiling Christmas mushroom, but I wanted to do something a little more for this year.

I have big dreams of making a beautiful quilted or embroidered or felt calendar for use year after year, but it time-wise, it just wasn’t happening this year and I wanted to make sure LMC had something to open on December 1st.

After scouring Pinterest, this project seemed a little more my speed. So I painted some toilet tubes, bought a Toob of farm animals* and some tissue paper and was off to the races. In reality, this was a three nap project, one for shopping; one for cutting, painting and gluing tubes; and one for assembly of the little gifts and activities (about a 50/50 split).

Today she got a little German shepherd figure and wanted to start punching in all the other days. So I guess you could say it’s a hit. So much so that we had to hide the calendar until tomorrow. ;)

Do you do Advent calendars or wreaths?

* Though they’re a perfect fit for this calendar, technically, the Toob figures aren’t recommended for under 3-years old.  LMC has had some similarly-sized dinosaurs for a while that she loves and hasn’t managed to choke on or eat, but use your best judgement for your own household.

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On Friday we had our second snow of the season (the first being a dusting the weekend after Halloween), but it now being mid-November, this one is the true harbinger of winter.

We’ve shifted our clocks back, I’ve pulled out my sweaters, and generally speaking, the first snow comes right around Thanksgiving, so it’s all in good timing. We’re acclimating LMC to snowpants and boots and mittens (which are tiny and adorable), and planning on more indoor time.

My most recent take on the Geranium dress, made out of some lightweight shot cotton, is mostly inappropriate for the weather, but I bought the fabric back on vacation and cut it out months ago and we can always layer, right? In any case, I cut it long in the hopes that it’ll still fit come warmer days, which are now very far away for Maine. I’ve got a second dress cut out in the same fabric for her still-nudist doll, which I hope to have done by Christmas.  Because there’s nothing like November to kick-start a slightly dormant crafting bug.

Do you have any Christmas crafting plans in the works?

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I’ve finished all the cross-stitching (excepting the name, which I’m saving for last) and have moved on to outlining. With 50 days until Christmas, it’s starting to look as if I might actually be able to finish the stocking in time for this year.

Of course Mr. Cleaver, being the reasonable one (and knowing me all too well), has encouraged me to banish the thought from my mind instead of giving myself some crazy deadline.

He’s probably right, butfor now, I think I’ll keep stitching along and call it come December 10th or so.

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Happy Halloween Everyone!!

I love costumes. It’s the theatre kid in me. But to my surprise, LMC was excited to wear hers too. The first thing she said the morning when I got her from her crib was “ears” because she wanted to put on her headband. Gotta love it – and I think she looks pretty stinkin’ adorable.

Mr. Cleaver and LMC painted the pumpkins together on Wednesday. The tempura paint is starting to peel a little, but I think they’ll make it through the night.

We’re planning to eat pizza and hand out candy, we get 80-100 kids a year. We’re holding off on treat or treating for at least another year.

Hope your Halloween is fun and fabulous!

  • Olivia Dress: McCall’s M6913, View B with D collar. All Kona cottons from JoAnn’s.
  • Pig Ears: Improvised by me. Wool Felt from Z Fabrics.
  • Striped Leggings: Target
  • Tintin outfit: Goodwill and Mr. Cleaver’s closet
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