20 August 2014

Teacher Gift Jars

How do you even begin to say thank you to the people who have guided, taught and loved your child since he was a baby? A cute pack of Sharpies at the end of the year hardly seems like enough. Maybe a million packs of Sharpies? AND a bottle of hand lotion?

Today is my son's last day at preschool. His last day with friends he's had since he was 12-weeks-old. His last day with teachers he's has since he was 20-months-old. Sad business. There are no words, no gift I could make or buy that could express my gratitude for these women. They've taught my son his colors and letters and shapes; they've taught him how to share, take turns and count. They've taught him how to "use his words" and stand up for himself when he wasn't being heard. They've had a significant role in making him the amazing, smart, thoughtful, funny boy he is today. It truly does take a village.

While gifts and sentimental blog posts don't come close to conveying the appreciation I have for his teachers, it's something. I hope they know how much they mean to me, my husband and, of course, our son. (End sentimental portion of this post, moving onto the craft portion of this post.)

The jars. I've been on a cross-stitching kick lately, so I grabbed my trusty needle and thread and got to work making these adorable little apples modeled after something I saw on Pinterest. Add a trendy chalkboard sticker to the front of a square little Mason jar filled with treats and gift cards and you're in business! But the best part? The very best part? My son wrote every teacher's name on the stickers. Yeah, they taught him how to do that. :-)

The second-best thing about these gifts is that I had most of the supplies on hand. And they're somewhat unique. And they're handmade. (I have the hot glue-burned fingertips as proof!)

At the end of the day (I can't believe I just typed that; I hate that phrase), the most important thing about gifts, whether they are for friends or family or amazing teachers, is that you put thought into them. They don't have to be trendy (although aren't those chalkboard stickers a.dorable?!). They don't have to be expensive. They don't even have to be handmade. They just have to be heartfelt. And these definitely are.

19 August 2014

The Saga of My Sunglasses

I’ve never been one to value things. I’ve always been more of an experiences kind of girl. But that philosophy flies out the window when it comes to sunglasses.

I have certain preferences – my husband would say I’m as picky as all get out – when it comes to my eyewear. They have to be brown. They can’t have wire arms. They can’t have bling. And they can’t be round or twice as big as my face. Oh, and they can’t cost more than $15.

Do you have any idea how hard it is to find sunglasses that fit this description? Im.Possible. Seriously.

A few years ago I found the perfect pair of sunglasses. Aside from some diamond bling on the side, that is. They fit my face. They were brown. They weren’t wire. And, bonus, they were $6.

I knew the second I stepped foot outside the store that I should’ve bought 2 pairs, no 3, no every single pair they had. But did I? Well, if I did I wouldn’t’ve been in the predicament I found myself in this winter.

I had gone back home to sled with some friends and accidentally left my sunglasses at their house. No worries, I thought. I’ll get them next time I’m home. Fast forward through the storm of the century, literally, and you’ll find me 4 months later nearly blinded by that big yellow ball in the sky.

I finally broke down and decided to replace my sweet, sweet sunglasses. You can guess how well that went. In a last ditch effort before filing for divorce, my husband convinced me to just-buy-a-pair-of-damn-sunglasses-already. I settled for a pair that met most of my requirements. I even tried to pretend I liked them. But you and I both know round frames are not me. So not me. I looked like a fool. People never came right out and said anything, but I know what they were thinking.

A couple months passed and finally, finally!, I was in possession of my old sunglasses. For about 2 minutes. They, along with jeans my husband left while sledding, long story, were waiting for me in a bag by the front door of my friend’s house. All I had to do was pick it up on my way out and – yahoo! – my sunglasses and I would be reunited.

But did I pick the bag up on my way out? Of course not.

More months passed and I officially gave up all hope of being reunited with my sunglasses. My son, who lost an arm of his sunglasses down an elevator shaft in Florida earlier this year, still has hope that he’ll be reunited with his sunglasses. But I knew my ending wouldn’t, um, end like I wanted.

Then, one day it did. I was once again at my friend’s house, once again in possession of the bag with my sunglasses and my husband’s pants (you’re just dying to know, aren’t you?). Only this time, my husband proved why I love him so much. He walked the bag to our truck and plopped it down on the back seat. There was no way I was leaving without them this time!

So here I sit, at my computer, inside, typing this little story, wearing my sunglasses. They are never leaving my sight again.

07 July 2014

I'm Crafting for a Cause

Last fall, between Thanksgiving and Christmas, I had a bit of a breakdown. Work stunk. I was in a funk. Blah, blah, blah. After a really uncomfortable "discussion" with my boss, I realized a lot of things - about life, about myself. I might go into that at some point, but the important takeaway today is that all of that chaos led to something pretty awesome: Northwest Ohio Crafting for a Cause.

I needed to find balance between work and, well, life. Crafting has always been a hobby of mine, but spending time on it honestly makes me feel guilty. There's always laundry or dishes to do. Toilets to clean. Windows to wash. Dust to, um, dust.

More importantly, there's always BB to play with, read to and spend time with.

But, in a stroke of genius (if I do say so myself), I decided that crafting can be important as well - if I have a good excuse. That was how Northwest Ohio Crafting for a Cause was born.

I rounded up several of my crafty friends and started talking through my idea: what if we organize our other crafty friends and make things for organizations in need. Things they could use or raffle or auction off to raise funds for things they could use. (I should note that a lot of people do this. We're not the only ones by any means.)

Thanks to some amazingly supportive friends, we started our first project in April, creating items the Theatre Workshop of Toledo could auction off at their annual fundraiser to raise money for summer camps. I made these (terrible) bags:

But several other people made some pretty awesome stuff, which you can check out at our Facebook page: www.facebook.com/nwocraftingforacause.

We are currently making blankets for the Troy/Oakland County Chapter of Project Linus, which collects handmade blankets and donates them to children in various situations who could use them. Our goal is to donate 10 blankets by the end of the month! Here's one I made:

We have an advisory committee made up of 6 crafty ladies, including myself. Our goal is to participate in 4 projects a year, primarily to benefit small, local non-profits. If you want to help us with our projects (we're always looking for crafters!) or if you would like to suggest an organization for us to support, e-mail us at info@nwocraftingforacause.com. You can also check out our Facebook page, where we share information about our projects, including photos of completed donations. We also hold fan raffles every so often, so like us, too! Here are two things we've given away in the raffles so far:

Isn't it amazing how that old cliche about good things coming out of trying times can sometimes come true? Happy Crafting!

Summer 2014 Handmade Gift Exchange Results!

Earlier this summer, when my to-do list was already bursting at the seams, I stumbled across the Craftaholics Anonymous Summer 2014 Handmade Gift Exchange. Wendy has gotten me into a few of these types of exchanges in the past, but this is the first I decided to do on my own.

I was paired up with another crafter with whom to exchange handmade awesomeness and got to work. My partner was extremely easy going, which is great and also a little painful. I snooped around her Pinterest page a bit and didn't get anywhere. I wanted to make her something she would love or needed or had her eye on, but nothing jumped out at me. With little to go on, I stuck to what I (currently) love, stitching. The things I made her:

The first is a cross-stitched monogram necklace, the second, an embroidered and framed flower (the flower was made by my friend Barbara; I can't crochet or knit to save my life).

My partner sent me these handmade goodies in return:

I especially love the wreath because I haven't had one to put up in what feels like forever (I should probably made myself one, huh?).

The next Handmade Gift Exchange starts in December. Click here to sign up for an e-mail reminder so you can join the fun!

26 June 2014

I'm Drawn to these Magnets!*

Have you ever seen a craft or project or recipe on Pinterest and thought, "I need that in my life! Now!"? That's how I felt when I saw these adorable Pantone chip magnets from How About Orange.

Luckily I have access to some Pantone chips and was able to get right to work making my own magnets! The hardest part was finding Aleene's Paper Glaze. So hard, in fact, that I couldn't find it at all. I used Ranger's Glossy Accents instead and it seemed to work pretty well. ← Those are my magnets!

Jump over to How About Orange for the easy-to-follow tutorial! She has a bunch of fun tutorials to check out while you're there.

* See what I did there? :-)