Jun 29, 2012

Epic Fail!



Here's the deal, and let's just get this out there right now...

I failed.

It's hard for me to admit this but it's true, I failed.  As in epic fail!  I don't know about you but I have this un-natural belief about myself that I can do all things.  The fact is, I can't.  But, I don't always believe facts, do you?

My husband points out every time we grocery shop that I'm not Wonder Woman. He's not being mean, he's just stating the facts because I try really hard to carry all the groceries into the house in one trip and it drives him crazy.  I'll carry 10 bags all at once while he carries 2.  And, if there is room on my pinky finger, well, I can grab his bags too.

This is a good analogy for the rest of my life too.  I usually think I can do it all and do it all at the same time.  And not only do it all but do it all equally well.  This past week though has given me a reality check.  If I was being graded on  getting things done among chaos, well, I would have gotten an F!

So, what did I fail on?  I'm really sorry but there is not going to be a June Nativity!  My intentions were good but with the craziness that hit and the things that are coming up I realized I can't do it.  I'm going from dealing with funeral to a wedding both in the same week.  Doesn't that seem like a cruel joke?  Oh, and let's add a birthday in there too.

As you know the funeral was for a family friends who lost their 17 year old son, and while my role was minimal, there was a lot to be done behind the scenes.  I'm the secretary for the women's origination at my church so lot's of phone calls, lots of emails, and lots of coordinating this & that was going on.  There were others who did way, way, way more than me and I'm blown away at what they can handle. I learned a lot from watching and working with them.

Anyway, June's piece was going to be the Camel.  He is the hardest part of the Nativity.  I thought June would be a great month to do a hard piece.  It's the first month of summer, we are all kicking back and have nothing better to do, right?  Ya, that thinking didn't work out so well for me.

So, here's an idea....  If you are following along with these monthly tutorials than you've probably already made the three wisemen right?  Well, if you really, really want to get a piece done this month and are a visual person, you can probably look at the Wisemen and put together a Shepherd pretty easily.  You follow all the same steps as the Wisemen, use tin foil for the body and head, add the clay, etc... They are the same height and have the same faces.  The major difference will be in the clothes and colors.  Shepherds are humble so use muted colors like various shades browns.

The photo at the top of the post is from a Nativity I made two years ago.  The photo below is the Shepherd we were going to make in our tutorial.  I will still do the tutorial but it's not going to happen in June.


Anyway, if you want, try it without the step-by-step.  If you don't want to do that, just hang tight.  Hopefully the month of July won't be so crazy.

Sorry to have failed all my Nativity Clubbers.  Hang with me though, we'll get all 12 pieces done.  But for now, I'm off to prep for the wedding I'm helping decorate.  Oh, and grocery shop - maybe I can carry 12 bags today.

P.S. - thanks for your comments, emails and prayers.  Your support and encouragement over the past week have been inspiring.  One fact I do believe is that I have nice readers!

Jun 27, 2012

Life saver fireworks


Independence Day is just two weeks from today.  Hard to believe we are already that far into summer.

If you are looking for a fun, easy craft here's a quick idea worth revisiting.


It's easy enough for kids to do and they might like to decorate their own firecracker.

Jun 22, 2012

Waiting!



Sometimes all we can do is wait.  I feel like that lately.  When tragedy hits waiting for news is the hardest part.  My poor kiddos feel that way too.  They've been waiting for me a lot the last couple of days.  

"Please wait, I have just one more phone call to make." 

"Hold on, let me send this email."

"You'll have to wait for lunch, I've got an errand to run."

Do you have those days?  Things have been busy around here, there is much work to be done, love to give and service to be rendered to those in need.  It feels good to help.  I'm glad to help.  

And, I think my girls understand.  They've been helping too.  They've been patient.  They've even been crafting by themselves because they know I've been busy.  The photo above was taken as I was finishing a phone call and I realized they were waiting  yet again.  

This time though, not for me.  

They were waiting for Shrinky Dinks!   

Instead of guilt for making them wait for me, I felt happiness that they were working and waiting on a project together.  It was a tender moment and a touching visual. One worth sharing.

................................................

P.S.- Thanks for waiting for me to post the Nativity.  Things are settling down, the chaos is calming a little bit.  There is still much sadness but we are moving forward knowing that all things are in God's hands.  I am forever grateful for the calming peace that my faith brings me and that I know eternal families are part of Heavenly Father's plan and that while this sweet boy may be separated from his family now, they will be reunited again.  There is a wait there too, they will wait to see him again but the reunion will be joyous.  

Thanks for your love and support and understanding.  I will return to normal posting soon you just have to wait a little longer.


Jun 21, 2012

Dealing with Tragedy

My post is short today.  It's been awhile since I have updated and on my last post I mentioned that the June Nativity was coming.  I hope you all understand that it will be further delayed.

A dear friend, our Bishop at our church, who my husband serves with closely, is in the midst of a major tragedy.  He has lost his teenage son to an accident.  While there is little we can do, our family is hurting greatly.  Our efforts and time are being focused on serving and helping this family and those others that are in our ward and community who are also hurting because of this tragedy.

If my readers are at all the praying type, prayers would be appreciated for this family.  And, I appreciate your patience as I take a few more days off away from the blog.

Life is truly precious.  Hug those around you.  Hug them tight.

Sincerely,
Amy

P.S.  - If you have placed Etsy orders in the last week, most of them have been shipped.  All others, including bulk orders, will still go forwarded as we have communicated.  Thanks!

Jun 14, 2012

I Heart...

I heart Etsy but I just got word that they are doing a mandatory maintenance shut down this weekend.  I was planning to post these then but decided I'd better get them up now.  Etsy shutting down for a few hours on Saturday is almost as bad as getting that 404 response from Pinterest - it just should NOT be allowed!

Anyway, I hope you enjoy these new additions to the Then She Made shop.  


First up, a fun little steam punk heart that hangs from a gear!


Then there this one.  Red Swirl Heart, I like it's more traditional shape and it's simpleness.  No added charms or doohickeys.   


And this one is fun too.  Heart pendant with charm, it's a little more rounded and has a pearl charm with copper elements to accent it.

I finished these up and had them sitting out on my table the other day.  My Miss M, who is almost 15, walks by and says, "Ca-Ute!!! Can I wear one tomorrow?"  She was pretty sad when I told her no but that she could buy one.  Then I smiled an annoying grin - am I mean or what?!

Anyway, just a little FYI, the clay is out and June's nativity is in the works.  I've been putting it off because out of all the pieces it's one of the hardest, at least I think so.  Hmmm, I probably shouldn't tell you that, should I?  Maybe it will be easy for you - I'll do my best to document it well in the tutorial!

Boredom Buster: Bleach Shirts

Do you have bored kids?  Me too.  We've been doing our best to our best to keep that dreaded statement, "I'm bored!" out of our house but it doesn't always work out so good.  Especially yesterday, I was busy filling Etsy orders .... (thank you all by the way, I only have two purses and a few bracelets left!) .... so my kiddos were left to come up with their own entertainment.

First they read - in the bathroom.

I'm not kidding.  They were being unusually quiet.  It was the kind of quiet that makes you worried about what kind of trouble they are getting into.  So I called for them and they answered saying they were reading.  I immediately thought, "Awesome!  Reading is great!  I have smart kids!".  I was quickly humbled when I realized their reading location of choice was a little wonky.  Were they in their room where it's comfortable?  Nope!  They were in the bathroom.  One had made a fort in the tub and the other wrapped up in a blanket in front of the toilet.  Still.  They were reading!  Awesome.


Reading lasted for a while but then it was hands on time so I did what all good, responsible parents do - I let them play with bleach.  Here's a little photo story of the process in case you want to do the same ....


1- Pick a t'shirts and stencil  

2- Place a few pieces of cardstock inside the shirt.  It's not shown but that is so the bleach does't soak through to the back of the shirt.  

3- Then tape the stencil down


4- Take a picture of your cute kid 


5- Give her a bleach pen and let her get to work dabbing bleach into the design of the stencil


6- This is what it will look like when she's done dabbing it on.  You can see how the bleach is already working.  Let the bleach set for about 10 to 15 minutes.


7- Throw the shirt in the wash and launder as you normally would.  Plus, give the hard working kid some M&M's, which she won't eat until she has sorted them out by color.  This will fill her with sugar which will give her energy to sustain the wait for the shirt while it goes through the laundry cycle.


8 - Pull the shirt out of the dryer and let her wear it.  Most likely she will refuse to take it off and will ask to wear it every where because, well, it's her own handy work and she is very proud!

So, these bleach shirts aren't a new idea.  You can Google them and get a million results.  But, they are great boredom busters so if you are looking for something for your kids to do, and I do recommend that the kids be older kids, than give them a try. They are kind of fun!

Oh, and if you don't have a t'shirt already on hand, Michael's has them on sale for 2 for $5 until Saturday 6/16.  That's a pretty good deal!


Jun 12, 2012

Deal of the Day: Bracelets and Bags

In between reading fire reports and entertaining the bored kiddos in my home, I've been busy.  I've filled a few Etsy orders and decided it was time to restock the shop and do another Deal of the Day, my last one was blue pendant necklaces so this time it's - drum roll please - Bracelets.

I love bracelets!


I've got a good mix of different colors and metal finishes that are just waiting for new homes.  You can check them all out here:  Then She Made's Etsy Shop  they are a deal at $12.95 and you can combine shipping too!  Each bracelet comes securely on Then She Made... packaging and in it's own little box so they make great gifts.


Also, because I had a few people email me and ask, you can also find this...


All the info and detail shots can be seen here:  Chevron Cross Body Purse Etsy


I've added a cute little trimmed back pocket and some other fun details.  For now I just have the chevron pattern done but I have stripes and florals cut out, in bags, waiting to be sewn.  They are super cute too.  I'm kind of in love with these bags.  They are a perfect size, not huge but big enough for all the important stuff like a phone, lipstick, keys, and money.  Sorry, the kitchen sink won't fit in these but the snacks you sneak into the movie will.  Just sayin'!  


Jun 11, 2012

Fort Collins Fire


(Photo taken last night by my awesome better half)

If you've been watching the news, you've probably heard about the fires in Colorado.  Not too long ago, just a few weeks ago in fact, we were dealing with a big fire.  It was bad enough that kids were not allowed to go outside for recess and ventilation systems were shut down to keep the smoke out of buildings.  That was a big one.  It was contained and eventually put out.  Thank goodness.

But now, now we are dealing with an even bigger fire.  It's up to 40,000 acres and is just on the other side of a ridge of hills from our home.  We live on the south end of Fort Collins so we are not in danger, well other than smoke, but we are safe.  Many others are not.

My heart is full of worry for those families that stand in harms way.  Several homes have already been lost, businesses have been destroyed and sadly, the fire is 0% contained.  That means it continues to burn.

Today the fire made it's way over the hills and is now working it's way East towards some small towns and areas that border Fort Collins.  Crews are coming in from all over the US to fight the fires.

It's hard to be so close and feel so helpless.

My heartfelt thanks goes out to all those we are bravely battling this and other fires in our nation.

In talking with a friend today, - she doesn't live near me but does live in an area where fires could happen and spread quickly - she told me that she was warned that if she gets a knock on her door she needs to be prepared to leave her home within two minutes.  TWO MINUTES!  That's been on mind all day as I try to take a mental inventory of what I would grab if I only had two minutes.

What would you grab if you only had two minutes to leave?

It's hard to think about, isn't it?  But, it's good to think about it too - that way, maybe we can all be a little more prepared should an emergency, fire or any other kind, hit.

Think about it.

Do something about it.

I know I am.

and, if you get the chance, hug a fire fighter or at least make them cookies and say thanks!


Jun 8, 2012

Girl's Camp Question: Clay Pendants



I've been getting a ton of questions about my word pendants.  Seems it is a popular craft idea for girl's camp this summer.  To which I say, AWESOME!  However, there are several things to think about before you commit to making these.  When I've been responding to emails I've tried my best to give as many tips as possible.  And, because I'm still getting questions I thought it might be best to just list my response and tips here....  

Ok, are you ready?  There's a lot of info.  


Time:  You really need to set aside about 3 hours to make these, start to finish.  For a girl's camp, at least the ones I've been too, that's a lot of time.  You need to leave time for sculpting, stamping, and cooking the clay.  You need time to let the cooked clay cool, then time to paint, time for the paint to dry, time to seal them, time to dry again, and then finally you need time to turn the pendants into necklaces.  If you try to rush the girls, it won't be successful.  And, every girl will work at a different pace.

Practice:  Do not even attempt to make these at camp without making them for yourself first.  You might make them and realize that they are more involved than they look.  You also might make them and then love them and want to make tons of them.  Either way, at least you'll have hands on experience and will be able to make an educated decision.

Organization:  In order for this craft to be done successfully, you need to be highly organized. If you want the girls to do these start to finish, I highly recommend having everything ready and in small little kits.  Include everything from flattened clay to pre-cut hemp for the necklace.  It will take more prep time for you but the results will be worth it.  I recommend flattening out little mounds of clay for each girl.  Once they are flattened you can store them in between two pieces of wax paper.  Doing this ahead of time will save a ton of time with the girls.  I found that the girls had a hard time flattening out the clay and making it even.  This was really frustrating for some of them. Also, it will save you on clay expenses too.  When I let the girls break off and condition their own clay, there was a lot of clay wasted.  Plus, some girls made their clay really thick which didn't work very well when you turn it into a necklace later."

Oven:  Remember, you have to have an oven.  No exception to this rule.  The clay has to be baked.  If you are roughing it and camping by fire, than this craft will not work for you.  If you still wanted to make them, you could do all the prep work, make all the pendants at home and bake them at home.  Then the girls could finish them at camp by painting them, sealing them and turning them into necklaces




Stamping:   Stamping the clay is not hard.  It's probably one of the easiest parts, however, remind the girls to press hard enough to make a good impression, but light enough that they don't push all the way through the clay.  Aim for a good happy medium.

Word Placement:  By far writing the word on the clay was the hardest thing for the girls.  Some of my girls just couldn't do it and got really frustrated with it.  I've had other adults complain about this too.  You will have girls that will just give up at this point.  I've done many of these so I'm used to it but for a first timer, it's hard.  To avoid the frustration you could do a couple of things: 1- skip the word completely and just stamp a design.  Or, 2- have them put the word on the back of the pendant where it won't show.  That way if it isn't perfect, they won't care as much.

Cost:  I get asked a lot about cost.  If you are careful, you can get about 8 pendants from one small block of clay.  That's if you separate out the sections before hand.  If you let the girls break off their own, you will only get about 5 per block of clay.  The circle cutters can be bought at craft stores but come in a pack of three different sizes for about $2.  You only need the middle size and if you have a large group of girls you will want to have more than one cutter on hand.  Paint is pretty cheap, one bottle will go a long way.  Hemp can be bought at Walmart in a large spool for around $6 and will go far.  


Expectations: Expect different levels of artwork from the girls.  Plan ahead that they will compare their work and some will get discouraged.  This is life but since it is at a girl's camp where you want positive feelings, be prepared to give lots of pep-talks.  I've done these with several different groups of girls.  Some of them young, in activity days and some in Young Women's.  Interestingly enough, the young women gave up first.  Most will try but you will have a few that will just give up.  It might be wise to have some pre-stamped/pre-baked pendants on hand for those girls.  That way they can still paint them and have something to turn into a necklace.  Plus they will leave happy.  These pendants aren't hard but they do require some patience and time to get them right, lots of girls will come into the craft expecting instant results and these don't work like that.

Paint:  Don't use black!  For some reason black paint stains the clay and will not come off as easily.  Use a dark brown instead.  Also, and this is important, stress to the girls that they need to get the paint off as QUICKLY as possible.  Put it on, wipe it off!  Fast.  You pendant won't look good if the paint stays on the pendant for a long time.

A short cut idea:  Lately when I've done these with groups, I've done all the beginning steps in the process ahead of time.  It's more work for me, kind of, but it's worth it.  So, when the group starts to craft, we start with a pre-stamped and pre-cooked pendant.  The girls then paint it, seal it and turn it into a necklace.  I'm not sure how you feel about making 150 pendants ahead of time but if you can do it, I'd recommend it.  Then you don't have to worry about the girls getting frustrated, wasted clay or needing to bake them at camp.  Also, it's helps cut down the time too.  And, the girls won't need as much hands-on help, which in a large group, that is huge time & sanity saver.  Instead, the girls just get to do the fun part and almost always will leave happy.

After all this info, probably the best advice I can give is to just practice, practice, practice.  Do them yourself and make sure you still love the craft.  Make sure you can teach the craft.  And make sure that you get the results you want in the time you have available.  If not, save these for a mid-week activity with a smaller group and find something else to do at camp.

Oh, and if you do make them at camp, I'd love to see the results - shoot me a pic and will do a little gallery of sorts.

Smiles,
Amy


Jun 7, 2012

Painted Ikea Storage Boxes

Do you love Ikea?  I do.  And, no, this is not a sponsored post.  I just want to share a project I did that helps me with my storage issues.  We are currently renting a rather small town home.  It fits our needs but finding storage space is tricky.  Especially for, ummm, all my craft stuff.  I have craft stuff stored under the bed, in closets, on top of cupboards and in my living room.  I have more craft items than I do clothes - no lie.

Fortunately, I've been pretty good at keeping it concealed so if you came into my home, you wouldn't know that they were craft supplies.  Here's one of the ways I did it.  Last fall I stocked up on Ikea Prant boxes.  Have you seen them before?



These are wooden boxes that come with a lid and have cool metal sides.  You do have to put them together but they are pretty easy as you just slide the metal pieces into little tracks on the wood.  They come in various sizes, I bought the big ones, I think they are like 13x13 or something like that.  I went with these boxes mostly because of the lid.  A lot of the baskets and storage bins are open top and you can see all the stuff inside.  I have some of those, and while I like them, I needed some of them to have lids.  Plus, these boxes are sturdy and can hold heavy things like clay.


After they were put together I took the unfinished box and taped off the metal edges with painters tape - sorry, I don't have a photo of that.


Then I painted the all the boxes - I'm kind of on a warm, muted orange kick so that was the color I chose.  I love it!


Next I took a large wall stencil that I picked up at Hobby Lobby, it was on sale for 50% off - wahoo, I love a bargain - and I placed in on the box.  Then took a lighter orange paint and stenciled on a the swirl pattern.


Here is it with just the orange swirls.


Then I took some other colors that are in our home like yellow, blue and green and I add them to the swirl designs.  Just a little bit of color was added as I wanted most of the color on the swirls to be orange.


And that's it.  It was a simple way to personal some storage boxes.  Then I filled up the boxes with some craftin' supplies and put them in their place on the shelf.  Seriously, they hold so much.  I have jewelry supplies, clay, stamps, fabric, ribbon, shipping stuff, etc... plus, my kiddos have a box (Wasn't I so nice to give them one box?) for their Wii stuff.  It's all in my living room, easy to get to but nicely hidden.

The shelf, which is an Expedit shelf, and the baskets are also from Ikea too - I said earlier that this was not a sponsored post but dang, maybe it should have been.  :)

Hey, just a reminder that I still have several items up for grabs in my Etsy shop.  I'm working up another deal of the day so I won't be recreating some of the items currently in my shop.  So, if you've had your eye on something, you should grab it now.  Go here: Then She Made Etsy Shop to see all that is available.

Smiles,
Amy

Jun 2, 2012

The Good, The Bad & The Ugly!

Have you seen that movie?  Don't.  I watched that show with my older brother when I was 15.  We watched it on Halloween.  Not because it was scary, I think it was just the only thing on.  It was quite possibly the dumbest movie that I've ever seen in my life but it stands out as a great memory of time spent with my brother and it is also a great blog post title because it describes this week of my life perfectly.  The Good, the Bad and the Ugly.

The GOOD!



Holy crap - I made this! (Yes, I'm patting myself on the back.)  I fancy myself a clever person, I can do crafts.  I'm a pro with a glue gun, scissors, and clay but sewing is something I rarely do.  I'm self taught and sometimes I get confused.  This week though, I had to dust off the sewing machine.  My Miss M is heading out on a youth trip for our church on Monday and needed a smallish bag to hold little treasures like her money and camera.  We looked in stores but couldn't find much so I got creative.  I even designed my own pattern.  She loves it.  I love it.  It's the GOOD from the week.  I failed to take photos while making it but plan to make another one soon and if you're interested I'll do a tutorial on it.  If I can sew, SEW can you.  (Yes, laugh.  That was a cheesy play on words)


The BAD!

I had an affair this week.  I met up with an old love.  Like most instant gratification, it was lovely in the moment but the guilt and regret set in.  Plus, stupid me - now my cravings are back.  For those new to my blog, you can read about my relationship here: Good-bye My Love

I went two months - TWO MONTHS - without a coke and this week I caved.  Someone asked me how long I plan to go without soda, like was this a lifetime commitment.  Honestly, I hadn't thought about that.  I was just trying to go a day at a time.  And, I did good.  I just stumbled this week. I read something about you don't have to be perfect, just be better today than you were yesterday.  So, with that advice tucked away and the knowledge that I did make it two months once, I will try, try again.  

The UGLY!


Since the sewing machine has been unearthed and is sitting in my living room it has piqued the interested of two little 10 year old girls.  They are out of school now and are already bored.  They want to push the pedal and make lovely creations.  So, we started a basics sewing class.  Let's face it, the basics are all I really know anyway.  I had a special "mom & me" date with one of them (the other was off with friends) and we went to look at patterns and fabrics.  She chose these monsters by McCalls they are ugly little creatures but are kind of fun to make.  The parts; legs, arms, ears, etc... are all interchangeable pattern pieces so the girls have been able to customize their creatures.  We are still mid-process but so far, these ugly little things are coming together. 

So, that's my week - the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly!  I wonder what next week will bring?!