Sunday, August 11, 2013

Some Crafts and Gifts of Summertime

Well hello!

Again I've noticed it has been a while since a post, and since I still have no job there is really not a good excuse I can use for lack of updating. Funny though, how even without a job and with husband on vacation, we seem to be so incredibly busy! I suppose summer can get that way really fast, and in some ways I'm glad I don't have to be cooped up somewhere during the best hours of the beautiful weather we're having, but this lack of paycheck thing is getting stressful. I now know what it feels like to be amongst the depressed unemployed-and-looking. I don't recommend it. It's exhausting.

Scouring Craigslist and my profession's state association classifieds, responding to anything advertised within 60 miles, networking LIKE A BOSS (but apparently not well enough...??), cold calls, dozens (literally) of inquiries into posted positions with not even a "thanks for your interest and we'll get back to you soon..." even after I've sent follow-up's all very overwhelming and at the end of the day, depressing. It sucks. All I want is to take care of people, improve their quality of life, provide impeccable service and care, and be able to pay my bills. Please?

So obviously I've had plenty of free time on my hands. After sending email responses to classifieds for jobs posted, after driving around with three supply reps to all of their clients, and after making new cold calls almost every day...there's still so much time for everything else that summer has to offer. So, I've filled up that time with crafts, catching up with old friends, cleaning and settling into our new place (still after two months, I know...), and pretending to be tourists in our old/new hometown. If not for lack of income, I'd be having SO MUCH more fun, but I'm really trying to make the best of having free time and still trying to be thrifty as well...

Anyway, down to business! Here's a little project I did to help spruce up our place:

I bought two plain wooden crates from JoAnn with my coupons, and stained and finished them. It took a couple of days to allow time for everything to dry sufficiently. They aren't all that large, the bottoms are about the dimensions of a small TV tray, which is actually perfect for our place. When we moved, we got rid of our entire living room furniture set, and have not replaced it. This has nothing to do with money, it is actually 100% due to the fact that our place is small. So instead of living room furniture, we have several floor pillows, a blanket, and two of these crates. 

We also don't have a television, so instead we use Netflix and Hulu, and have a large flat screen monitor to hook up to our computer and watch movies and Top Gear and British sit-coms. We have five wall shelves, one of which is mounted about 18 inches off the floor, and the monitor sits there. Then we relax on the floor for some movies and cuddles, and we also usually eat dinner during a Top Gear episode or something, on the floor. So the crates come in handy to store some of the pillows, and also to use as little dinner tables. Floor living has been pretty nice so far, except it does make me feel like I don't have a space to use as an "office" or craft area. That is a little tough. But in such a small space, there's not really a ton of room for anything like that anyway.

Moving on...friends of ours had a party for the baptism of one and the birthdays of both of their children, and I wanted to make something they could enjoy as a family in addition to the little books we got the kids for their birthdays. I found the tutorial for the following project at Grow Creative (click for tutorial...) It ended up being pretty easy and turned out great. 

So, a few things I should share about this project. 

1) Yellow is too light...unless your pencil tracing is already super light, you will NOT be able to erase the outline after you've painted with watercolors over it. So, I darkened up the yellow one to more of a golden/light orange and the remaining pencil marks all but disappeared. The other colors weren't as big of an issue, although I would definitely recommend tracing as lightly as possible so that whatever color you choose will cover up the lines completely.

2) The frame I had was 12x12, and since I wanted four images they were each 6x6. I cut my watercolor paper into 6x6 squares, and when I was done painting each one I definitely made sure to use my heavy duty scrapbooking tape runner to then arrange them on and stick them to a 12x12 scrapbook page. Then I trimmed the purple strips to frame each image.

3) Overall I was really happy with this project. One thing the original tutorial on Grow Creative mentions is to pick a photo that has a good balance of shaded and lit areas...but that's actually kind of hard to do. Until you upload the photo into the online editor, it's really hard to tell exactly how it's going to turn out. And I won't lie, I didn't do *exactly* what the tutorial said to do. For her image, she posterized the photo to have only two colors. Well, three of the four photos I was working with didn't turn out that well with just black and white, so I posterized them with three colors, and used a faded version of my main color when I painted. Does that make sense? Just a watered down version of the darker color.

4) I kept small scrap strip of my cropped watercolor paper nearby so that I could test out the saturation of my color before I added it to my image. Helpful.

I think that's it for tips and notes about was a fun project and, especially for photos of kids and pets, is an awesome addition to a home. It made a pretty great gift as well, I think.

Another great gift I put together this summer was a "Just in case..." bag with all sorts of great event-specific-emergency items. I gave it to my lovely bride-to-be friend as a bridal shower gift, and I actually got the idea from a great gift I got from my own bridesmaid for my wedding! I collected the same or similar items that I had received, and then added a few more things that were specific to this lovely's and my friendship together. I found a super cute cosmetics bag, made a cute tag, and just put everything inside! And my lovely bride-to-be loved it :) Oh, and I also made a card with my collection of cardstock, a little snippet of ribbon, lace, and tulle. I made a similar card (with slightly different patterns of how I put the tulle on, and a gray "belt" instead of the white ribbon) for another friend who is also getting married at the end of this summer. I really liked making them, and they were definitely unique; plus I didn't buy them for $6 each :P

Now, I wish I had kept an actual list of all the stuff I put inside. You can see some of it, but that's not even close to all of it! So, I'll list what I can remember:
Travel sized toothbrush, floss, toothpaste, and those little Wisp things.
5-Hour Energy shots
Travel tissue
Travel Tide stain remover stick
A tampon
Lip balm
Bobby pins
Safety pins
Granola/snack bar
Mini box of Altoids
Travel sized deodorant
Gosh, I feel like there was more but I just cannot remember what...! Here are some ideas that you could add also:
An airplane shot of her favorite liquor
Starbucks VIA or other instant or premade coffee drink
Travel sized hairspray
Moist towelettes/hand sanitizer
Sample/travel size of her favorite perfume
Little rubber earring backs
I think that's all the additional ideas I've got off the top of my head right now, but you're creative so you get the point. One thing I appreciated SO much from one of my own lovely bridesmaids was that she brought a PBnJ sandwich and a bottle of water, and she fed me a few bites and sips just before the ceremony as we were hiding from all the guests taking their seats in the chapel. We also had some bagels and cream cheese in our dressing area, but the bagels were really dense; a little hard to chew real quick and get it swallowed before we had to go! Everyone getting ready was able to enjoy a few bites though. Delicious. I then popped a mint, and we were ready to go. It was awesome because it wasn't even something I had thought of - needing a little bit of food between the VERY early breakfast that morning and the hors d'oeuvres at the reception at 2:30 that afternoon. 

Well, I think that's all for now! There will be another post soon about being tourists in our own city, since I've been trying to live up my unemployment time...

Thanks for reading, mates! Until next time, make someone a gift. It feels wonderful to share your creativity, or even just share the fact that you've been thinking about someone in your life.


  1. Hey, that kit looks familiar ;)

    Other items I've found useful in there:
    Band-aids - at one wedding, the groom cut his finger (somehow) while getting ready for the big day. Fortunately I was able to grab a band-aid from the "just in case" kit!
    Little sewing kit - this has actually come in handy at multiple weddings.
    Pepto chewables - again, just in case ;)

    1. Great ideas!
      Bandaids! I did put those in there, I completely forgot - someone ALWAYS needs a Bandaid! A sewing kit would have totally helped, we did have a couple of mishaps that required one...luckily in the suite the Mother of the Bride was in, there was a sewing kit in the bathroom...phew! I totally thought about this suggestion at the wedding, too!
      Thanks for reading, Laura :)


Thanks for your thoughts!