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Winner!

Thank to everyone who entered my giveaway, and for all the great food and drink suggestions! The winner is Steph, who said: “I can’t wait to play these with my son. Thanks for the chance to win them. I like hot apple cider and kringla cookies.”

 

 

Giveaway

Welcome to my giveaway! For first-time visitors, I am a reporter for The Associated Press by day, crafter by night. This blog has been a bit neglected in recent months, but I hope to get some momentum back in the new year!

I’m giving away a set of Japanese-style beanbags called Otedama that I made using a tutorial found HERE at The Things That Make Us Happy and Wise blog. Instructions on how to play the game can be found HERE, but it appears to be similar to playing jacks: You throw one beanbag in the air and pick up another before catching the thrown bag in the same hand and so on. My 10-year-old son gave this set a test run this morning and found it fun but more challenging than we expected!

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They were rather tricky to sew because they are so small!

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I will leave this open until Friday at 9 p.m. EST and will announce the winner on Saturday. I will ship internationally.

Just leave me a comment, any comment will do. If you’re feeling chatty, tell me something yummy you like to eat or drink for the holidays.

And please check out all the other great giveaways here:

 

Halloween Bunting

I finally crossed another item off my “Finish First” list, just in time for Halloween. This took all of five minutes to finish, so it’s really ridiculous that I took years to get around to it.

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Our newly renovated living room still is a bit of a work in progress. We still have some touch-up painting to do, and I still have to make a slipcover for one of our old chairs. And figure out what to put on the walls, and how to deal with the windows. Before this room was enlarged during our renovation, we didn’t use it much because it was so narrow there wasn’t room for much furniture. So it didn’t bother me that we have nothing on the windows. But now that we use it a lot more, it feels a bit exposed at night. The windows are huge, but they have glass shelves running across them, which means curtains won’t really work. I’m thinking that sheer shades that hang behind the shelves would work,  because there is a bit of room between the windows and the shelves, but they are expensive given the non-standard sizes of the windows. So for now, they’re only covered by this bunting! (You can find my tutorial on how to make one HERE)

It helps to have a black cat this time of year. He is like a living Halloween decoration!

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This blue chair is one of our old Ikea Ektorp chairs. The cats had shredded the original brown cover, so I cut it apart and used it as a pattern to make a new cover. I chose an indoor/outdoor fabric given how sunny this room is (Robert Allen’s Baja Linen, color is “Pool”) and hoping that it would stand up better to wear and tear. Unfortunately, the cats have already scratched the arms a few times, even though there is a scratching post nearby. I tried using some double-stick tape on the chair to deter them, but it peeled right off because the fabric is so smooth. Anyone have other suggestions?

We purchased a new couch from Pottery Barn because thanks to a mix-up on some lights we had ordered, we managed to get a 30 percent off discount. I also purchased two yards of matching fabric from Pottery Barn and used to re-cover our old ottoman. Pottery Barn sells an ottoman like this for more than $500, so that $40 worth of fabric was money well spent. (Now that I look at this picture, one ‘flap’ on the ottoman looks a bit too long. I’ll have to take that side in a bit) You can also see the corner of the blue chair: I somehow cut/measured wrong, and the slipcover wasn’t long enough, so I cut it off and used Velcro to wrap the fabric around the base of the chair, leaving the legs exposed. I still need to adjust the fabric a bit, but I think  it makes the chair look a bit more modern). The other chair will be covered in a gray and white print.

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Mini Mummies

CRAFTS-MINI MUMMIES

 

We are not an “Elf on the Shelf” household. Part of me knows that I would go way overboard planning creative adventures for it every night, and part of me thinks it’s just a little creepy. That said, wouldn’t it make more sense to have a slightly spooky creature keeping an eye on your kids around Halloween instead of Christmas?

Our annual “apple party” is coming up, and that means I need to come up with a craft for the kids. In the past, we’ve made pantyhose pumpkins, Halloween snow-globes, confetti poppers and leaf glitter paintings. (The leaf glitter trees were actually one of my favorites, but I just realized I never posted about it! That link goes to the tutorial I used.) This year, the kids are going to make miniature mummies!

You can read the full tutorial HERE. (As always, with my AP stories, news links tend to die out rather quickly. If the link is bad, just google “Holly Ramer” and “mummies” and it should pop up.)

CRAFTS-MINI MUMMIES

Apple Party Poppers

For as long as we’ve been married (15 years!), my husband and I have hosted what we call our “Apple Party.” It started out small, and as the name suggests, involved picking apples at a nearby orchard and then returning to our house for a dinner party. Over the years, it has grown exponentially in size, and along the way, we stopped going apple picking and just focused on the party part.

You can read all about it in the article my husband wrote for New Hampshire Magazine here. (I wasn’t quite expecting such a big spread. In the printed version, there is a full-page picture of me and Jason … good thing I knew the photographer — my mom — would do an excellent job!) But I also wanted to highlight the craft project we did last year:

poppers

I got the idea from HERE. They are confetti “poppers.” I prepped all the tubes (This was a last-minute idea, so I actually ordered 70 empty toilet paper tubes from someone on eBay!) ahead of time with the balloons and tape, so the kids just had to decorate them with stickers if they wanted. The only downside was that I way underestimated how much confetti they would go through, and we ran out pretty quick. (I don’t have a shredder, and it took a long time to make that much confetti!)

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I also just realized I never wrote here about the photo booth I made for that party. You can read the tutorial I wrote for AP a few months ago here, but basically, I turned a refrigerator box into a photo booth (I got the box free years ago from an appliance store when I made Parker a castle for his 4th birthday), and set up my iPad with a photo booth app.

I had planned to let people print their pictures on the spot but my printer was not cooperating. It was just as well, since our guests took hundreds of pictures throughout the day and evening! I’ll definitely be pulling the booth out again for this year’s party. It has held up pretty well just being folded flat and stored in the garage. We’ve even lent it to other friends.

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Neighbor Quilt

We are heading back to our summer cabin this weekend, probably for the last time this year now that the weather is starting to get a bit chilly. This fall is especially sad because one of our wonderful neighbors passed away a few weeks ago. He had been in the hospital for most of the summer, but we were hopeful he would pull through.

Early in the summer, I made him this quick quilt, and his wife told me he really loved having it on his bed. I can’t find the exact tutorial I used to do the circles, but this one is similar. It was pretty tricky because I had to piece together large sheets of freezer paper, and it was hard to keep the circles from stretching, so I was not very happy with how wonky it ended up. (Even though it looks like just two blue rings, I basically had to follow that circle technique four times: a layer of blue, then white, then blue, then white again). I do think for a smaller circle, this technique is really quite good.

I didn’t use batting, but used a thick, plush fabric on the back, and kept the quilting pretty simple. The logo comes from a Boy Scouts camp that is on the other side of the pond.

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Baby Knits

Two friends _ one near, one far _ recently had baby girls, so I decided to knit them some gifts. I was so proud that I finished this first sweater a month before Baby #1 was due, and promptly mailed it off to my friend in Australia. I found this free pattern on Ravelry (Rolled Edge Raglan Baby Sweater by Joan Marie)

stripedsweater

This is exactly the style of sweater I wanted to make for Parker before he was born, when I got as far as buying the supplies and a book of patterns and then failed miserably in actually learning how to knit. (I did sent the yarn off to my husband’s grandmother, who made an adorable sweater for me). Ten years later, I finally made one! This one is was not perfect, but it was pretty cute! Note the past tense: I mailed it to Australia and it never arrived! :(

So, after the baby was born, I got back to work, and tried a different pattern, “Cascade” by Raya Budrevich.  This one, I’m happy to say, arrived, and my friend loved it. The little leaf border is so cute, I couldn’t resist adding ladybug buttons.

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For Baby #2, I went with a dress that supposedly will stretch as baby grows, and be wearable as a tunic later. I have my doubts about that, but for now, it is a cute dress. (A free pattern called “Longevity Shirt/Dress on Ravelry)

babydress

 

 

 

Back to the ’80s Craft Kit

I was trying to come up with a little birthday gift for my 9-year-old niece to go with a larger present, and I was thinking of getting her a Chinese jump rope. Horrible name aside, I remember really enjoying those as a kid. But then that got me thinking about other activities I enjoyed at her age, so I ended up ditching that idea and making her a “Back to the ’80s’” craft kit with all the supplies to make ribbon barrettes, friendship bracelets and friendship pins.

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The little set of drawers was under $5 at Target, and I had a lot of the supplies (ribbon, embroidery thread) already. In putting this together, I realized that if you use regular safety pins, your beads will end up on the “arm” that opens, which means you couldn’t attach the pin to a shirt or something. But we used to just put them on our sneakers, and you can just slip the back of the pin under a shoelace. (I’ve seen other instructions that say to use pliers to open the coil so you can slide the pins to the other arm, but frankly, that seemed too complicated.) And then I stumbled upon coil-less safety pins, in the jewelry making supply aisle at Jo-Ann Fabric. So that makes it even easier!

Here are a few pictures of the drawers:

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box2

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And here is a label you can download and print (without my niece’s name on it!) if you want to make one yourself! I also wrote a tutorial for AP, which you can find here, but you can probably figure it out from the pictures!

80skit

 

Pre-camp Crafting

We moved out of our house and into our camp last weekend while some major renovations are done to our kitchen, bathroom, laundry room and sunroom. And while my commute is now more than five times as long (OK, it’s only jumped from 6 minutes to 35 minutes), I do love coming home to this view:

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(Not that we’re swimming quite yet. It’s still pretty cold. We’ve been using the wood stove at night. And we have all three of our cats with us in a one-room cabin, and one of them has already figured out how to climb up the ladder to Parker’s sleep loft to wake him up in the middle of the night. But I really can’t complain about having a beautiful cabin and eventually, a beautiful new kitchen at home!)

The move also means that I had to think about what craft projects I needed to accomplish before the move, since I left behind my sewing machine and nearly all other supplies. (I did bring my knitting, and I’m actually taking an online painting class this summer, so I’ll still be fairly creative!) That made for a hectic few weeks before the move, but the upshot is I finished a few things quite early!

For example, I knew I did not have time to make gifts for Parker’s teachers, but I did find a cute idea for wrapping up a gift card HERE. So I have two of these all ready to go. (Oops, now I see I forgot to make a little gift tag for the present, but I still have time to add that).

teachercard

 

And I made a stenciled t-shirt for my best friend’s son, who is a big Harry Potter fan. I can’t remember where I originally saw this idea of taking the key words from each of the book titles, but I tweaked it a bit, almost accidentally. I used my Silhoutte machine to cut a stencil out of Con-Tact paper, and while I was trying to figure out what colors to paint each word, I realized that the recipient’s name _ Cade _ was right there among the letters!

I was a bit impatient, and for some reason my colored textile paint was much thinner than the white, so the colored letters did not come out as crisply as I would have liked.

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Giveaway Winner

Thank you to everyone who entered my giveaway. I now have lots of great ideas for refreshing summer drinks!

The winner is Karen B., who said people think she’s weird for drinking watered down orange juice, but I actually also enjoy orange juice mixed with seltzer water :)