I've been a busy bee with earrings lately. I had a special request for guardian angel earrings (last set!). A group of teens (8 in total) will be wearing them in solidarity for a Pro-Life event they helped put together through their Youth Group. How cool is that? I did them free of charge (of course!). How cool that they thought to wear earrings in solidarity with the "angels" lost to abortion every day? Sometimes these kid astound me. They'll be giving the Pro-Life Union of Philadelphia the first My Broken Fiat check I've been able to amass through your generosity. $100! So thank you so much for your support, guys!!!
When I get a new batch of these particular beads in, I'll start offering them in the shop. The others are new designs I was fiddling with to add some gold to the mix since most of my pieces are silver.
Anyway, here's what I've got! I'm really loving the metal charms and glass beads. The colors are pretty and they're just so much fun to work with!
Since I've still got plenty of beads and yarn to work with, I tried to figure out a fun Lenten craft that would use them up!
I lucked upon some cheap foam sheets at Walmart and put the two together. Fun was the result!
Since Ash Wednesday falls on the day before Valentine's Day this year, I decided to combine my Lent and Valentine's Day crafts. To prep my students for the upcoming craft, I spent Tuesday night's lesson explaining to them the purpose of Lent and why we prepare through prayer and sacrifice. We spent a good portion of the class going through the Triduum and why that is considering the most sacred time of year for Catholics. Since Jesus was willing to sacrifice so much for us, it's only fitting that we return His love by showing our love for Him by loving others.
So this coming week, we're going to be doing Valentine's to Jesus, but instead of simple "I love you Jesus" messages, we're going to be offering LENTEN Valentines. I'm having the kids mark down things they'd like to both give up as a sacrifice and do for others as a sign of love. They'll put their ideas onto the foam sheets and frame them out with decorations and symbols of their faith.
To further prepare, I mocked up these samples:
The first one is a combination of Love Letter and Sacrifice Beading. I took 40 purple beads to signify the 40 days of Lent and strung them along four strings of yarn. For each time the child resists temptation, a bead can be moved down the line. This is a good way to help children see the progress they're making and give them a sense of accomplishment. The beads along the bottom are red, white and blue. They weren't chosen because I was feeling patriotic. Instead, I chose them to provide special meaning for "gifts of love" done by the child.
Red is to remind us of the pain that sometimes comes along with sacrifice. Jesus gave us the gift of Eternal Life, but it came at the cost of His Blood. Thus, when we sacrifice things during Lent, we should aim to sacrifice things that might be a little difficult (like video games, candy, fast food or shoe shopping!).
White is to remind us of the purity of God's gift. The Father did not force the Son to sacrifice Himself for us. Jesus was not guilty of anything. Instead, Jesus's motive for coming to earth to die was pure. His Sacrifice was driven purely by love. Our sacrifices duing Lent should also be driven by love.
Blue is to remind us of the Blessed Mother. She, too, consented to take part in these Sorrowful Mysteries because she knew it was necessary for God's children to return to Heaven. When I explained this to the kids last week, I likened Our Lady to a firefighter's mother.
If a firefighter knows a baby is at the top of a burning building, what does he do? He runs up to the top of the building to save that baby! It's his job! It's what he chose to do with his life because he cares about others and wants to spend his life helping them!
Would his mother object to him trying to save the baby? Would she have jumped in front of him and sacrifice the life of the baby? No. Why? Because she understands he has to save the baby. She knows the baby would die without her hero son, and so she suffers the fear and pain of losing her son because being a fireman is who he is.
Just like that fireman was born to save lives, Jesus was born to save humanity. Thus, Our Lady consented to the fear and pain that went along with seeing Her Beloved Son die so that we could all gain eternal life. In my Lenten meditations, I always tend to stick with my sacrifices better when comparing them to hers. If she could do that, I can give up fries and junk food, ya know?
So I put the blue ones in there in case the kids want to do something similar.
Put a magnet on the back and you can hang it up on your fridge so you can keep track in an easy-to-reach spot!
The next one is a horizontal frame that includes three "give up X" and three "do X for others" items. I alternated them and to denote which was which, I placed either a heart (for loving others) or a cross (for sacrifice) above or below the corresponding picture.
I'm a terrible artist, so forgive me. I used Sharpie markers for this one. I chose three typical sacrifices to showcase as ideas: Fast food, chocolate and mean / angry language. For the "love others" items, I chose organization, prayer and monetary donations. Obviously these pictures can vary based on the child's choices. I liked putting the "Lead me to Your Cross, dear Jesus!" at the bottom, though. It just seemed to fit. Sacrifice undoubtedly leads us to Christ, and loving others through things like prayer and help are about as Christ-like as you can get!
I chose to make slits in the frame to give the smaller foam piece a place to anchor into. No glue necessary! Just make the slits with a knife or pair of scissors.
Finally, I made the more "traditional" Valentine card. It's very simple and made mostly with the little foam stickers I found in my travels. I did end up hot gluing the red piece onto the white background for this one.
Fish on Fridays, remembering to make my bed in the morning, and making a concentrated effort to pray with faith - no empty words here!!!
So those are just a few of the fun little projects you can do with your kids / classes. It will give the children a chance to really think about and express their love for Jesus while preparing for the Lenten / Easter season.
Thanks to Anabelle for the reminder to link this up! All you other fine bloggers out there, don't forget to link your crafty posts to places like Catholic Bloggers Network and Raising Little Saints! Other folks out there are looking for ideas JUST LIKE YOURS, so help them out by linking up!
My friend, Faith, got Vince a super cool sleeping bag for Christmas. He uses it for nap time at daycare almost every week. As a result of the constant use, the velcro straps on the ends have become relatively useless as of late. So, I decided to try fixing it with a single velcro strap that went around the middle of the entire bag instead of around the two sides.
I originally wanted a buckle, but I couldn't find one of those snap buckles (the kind on high chairs?). So I went with velcro since it was cheap and easy to use.
I did a quick measure of where the stitch would need to go and set that bad boy through my sewing machine. Again, success! I really enjoy short little projects like this because I end up feeling productive and motivated to try again.
So that's my advice to newbs out there like myself. Keep trying your hand at the little things. Build up your confidence and motivation through them. They'll hone your basic skills and introduce you to new ones little by little. Yay!
Again, straight lines just aren't my thing yet.
But it WORKS, and that's the important thing. Woo hoo!
So I saw this adorable idea on Pinterest the other day. I don't have a Pinterest account, but I do regularly see "pins" on Facebook and this particular one caught my eye. An easy apron you can make out of a potholder and a dishtowel?
Color me intrigued.
So off I go to find a cute potholder / dishtowel duo that can serve as my base. Here's what I found (Walmart for $3!):
The set came with two square potholders, a mitt, three towels and a washcloth. Not bad for $3. Material definitely isn't the best, but I figure $3 on a practice project is $3 well spent, especially when I can get several projects outta the pack!
So anyway, I decided to give the project a go tonight after I picked up the pink ribbon you see above.
I cut the towel a little less than halfway through. I wanted the pattern of little cupcakes to still show up in a way that didn't look odd when completed. Unfortunately, I underestimated the fabric allowance I'd need to fold over to sew a decent looking seam. As a result, the lines aren't straight again and I think the cupcakes ended up being on a slight angle. Meh... gives it some character. *Grin*
Pinning this way was not my smartest move.
Totally zigged when I shoulda zagged.
From here I decided I should attempt to fold down the corners of my little rectangle so I could sew the potholder onto the towel. I eye-balled two triangles on either side of the top and sewed them in place. I didn't take pictures of this part - though I really should've - because I didn't want to stop since I'd finally gotten things working right.
Those triangles taught me the importance of having an iron handy. I don't think I'd've been able to sew those seams closed had I not had the iron to help me make the creases that would hold down the fabric. So yes! Irons really DO make all the difference in the world. Who knew?
Once the triangles were in place, I took on the potholder. I measured the seam out to where I thought it should go. GLORIOUS mistake on this one. Since I was sewing backside (to keep the stitch colors where I wanted them) I didn't see that my measurement was way off until I flipped the pieces over to view my not-so-handy-work. I actually laughed. This is what it looked like:
That's not under the cupcake!!!
Oh well. I figured I may as well continue making as many mistakes as possible with this one. Get 'em out of the way so when I try my hand at this again, I won't have so many goofs to take photos of. Ha ha!
Once the potholder was attached, I decided to put a ribbon across the center as a little belt. It'd cover the stitching error and would add a touch of cute (as if cupcakes weren't adorable enough!).
So I grabbed the ribbon and was pleasantly surprised to find that it folded out into 2 inch fabric! It's not real ribbon... it's something called bias tape. Worked for me!
So I unfolded it out and cut a center piece for the belt. Again, I eye-balled it since I'm not really sure what I'd be measuring anyway since I didn't start out with any sizes. I then folded those and sewed the ends into place.
Note to self: Choose ribbon that is actually opaque next time.
I decided against sewing the belt down the center because after I secured both sides, it actually sat pretty flat against the potholder. I felt that adding a sewing line would be silly. Granted, I would've gotten practice sewing in a straight line, but I think it looks cute enough without the line and I do plan to give this to my niece.
Anyway, after the belt was secured, I attached the ribbons to tie in the back and around the neck. Those were simple enough. Once completed, I was pretty pleased with myself. It took me about an hour and a half to accomplish (mostly because I was fighting with my machine), but all in all, this was a really good practice run and I learned a few new things about my machine and the sewing process. Plus, I feel like I'm an expert threader now that I've had to do it about a bazillion times.
Here's the trial run apron. Can't wait to see what the 2nd one looks like!
I sincerely hope a year from now I have enough practice that I can look back at this photo and cringe in horror. Right now, though, I'm basking in my success, even if it's the messy sort. :)
I think I'm gonna do blue ribbons for the ties next go around...
I'm currently teaching my kids about the Liturgical Calendar. I wanted to do something more hands on for them to help them better understand how colors and season work together to tell the story of Jesus' Life.
Since I have a plethora of colored beads on-hand (these are given as rewards that kids can exchange for treats), I figured a beaded liturgical calendar was in order!
I pulled some yarn and cut them into strips about 12 inches long. I then had the kids sort the colored beads into their proper seasons and string them, in order, onto the yarn. Once completed, they tied their ends together to create an easy to follow (and portable!) liturgical calendar!
These are what the looked like:
The best part about these (aside from how cheap and easy they are to make), is they can be customized to suit the level of your children!
Older kids can do a calendar that features Holy Days of Obligation (the above is only Sundays plus the Triduum). Or maybe they want to do the ENTIRE calendar and see if they can't coordinate the feasts of martyrs, the Blessed Mother and other saints while still paying attention to season.
This one features a few of Our Lady's solemnities.
I was so pleased with how these turned out that I plan to do one with Vincent! He'll enjoy stringing the beads, and even though he doesn't have much concept of Church colors, we can match them each week when we go to Mass so he can begin to "follow along" in his own way.
So there's my liturgical craft for the night. You folks enjoy!
So I finally buckled down and took those two sewing classes I've been eyeing for the last several months. While I'm certainly no seamstress guru, I'm not terrified of sewing my fingers together anymore.
The first class I took was back in October. Me and another woman learned how to sew a pillowcase. I still have no clue what basting means, but I was able to figure out where things needed to be placed in order to look "right" when the seams were finally stitched. Good thing, too. Our teacher was so busy working the front desk that the other woman and I were left to our own devices. Ah well. At least she taught us how to thread the machine! I feel like that's half the battle right there!
Anyway, after the class I purchased extra fabric as "homework" for myself. I wanted to make a matching pillowcase at a later date just to refresh me on how the machine works.
My machine, fabrics and tools. I'm gonna make me a pillow case!
Unfortunately, I ended up neglecting to touch my sewing machine until December when I took the 2nd class with my friend, Faith. Lucky for me I hadn't forgotten everything and was able to set my machine up out of the box again (woo hoo!).
For our second class, we were instructed to make pajama bottoms. These were a lot trickier than the basic pillowcase. These things had patterns and everything. Talk about intimidating! In order to cancel out the intimidation factor, I chose the most ridiculous pattern I could get my hands on.
I was glad to also have Faith there to keep things entertaining. Neither one of us really had a clue, so we sorta winged it as the teacher - again - flitted back and forth between us and the front desk.
It's okay, though. Considering how condescending she was to Faith, myself and the other two women taking the class, I was happy to have her attention focused elsewhere. We were able to manage well enough on our own, and she was there if our thread tangled, something wasn't working, or the directions didn't make sense.
But boy oh boy. It took us almost FOUR HOURS to make those gosh darn pants! All of you wonderful women out there who know how to sew - GOD BLESS YOU! I'm envious of your natural skill set.
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Oh yeah - those are puzzle pieces. Thousands of multi-colored puzzle pieces. Oddly enough, the pants didn't come out nearly as horrific as I thought they would. Plus, now I can wear any color shirt I want (or any of John's that I can get my hands on) and they'll match!
But yeah, aside from style, these things sport an elastic waistband and zig-zag hems courtesy of my lack of finishing skills. Even though the teacher 'tsked' me, I say these were a success.
I'm happy to report, however, that I did practice this weekend since it's been about a month since that December class. I was able to successfully make a matching pillowcase with the fabric I purchased in November. Even more exciting, I was able to fix one of my veils that had ripped last summer. But the best part? I figured out my machine. I had been taught to incorrectly thread the bottom bobbin and it took several messed up attempts to finally figure out the problem.
I had run into the same problem repeatedly at the sewing shop, but each time I was met with the same "solution." I knew it was wrong (because my machine kept angrily spitting out thread), but I couldn't figure out why it was wrong.
So I spent a good fifteen minutes taking apart the bottom workings of my machine and tinkering around until I realized my thread was getting caught because I was loading it improperly. Once I worked that out, it was smooth sailing. I was so proud of myself!
That's one item slowly being marked off my "things I'm going to learn someday" list. I've wanted to learn sewing for a long time now. It took me about 3 years, but I feel like I'm finally on my way towards learning a skill that I can really utilize for myself and my family. Torn toys, here I come!
The finished pillow case.
I have been incredibly busy the last few days (as you could probably guess from my lack of posting).
Anyway, some good and blessed news!
First, I attended the beautiful wedding of two wonderful people up in NY on Saturday. The 5 hour road-trip was a ton of fun, and the end result of the ceremony and reception will be fond memories I'll always treasure.
The rest of the weekend I spent filling orders and creating new earrings (which I've now posted to the store... mostly).
Also, I was privileged to see one of my best buddies for his birthday as an unexpected bonus. How incredible is that???
And finally, please shoot a prayer of thanksgiving up to God for the miracle of my friend's bike accident.
And yes, I just said the miracle of my friend's bike accident.
While he was on his way to the wedding, he was thrown from his motorcycle at about 80mph. The angels must have been with him, because he ended up walking away with a dislocated shoulder and road burn.
80mph on a highway into a guardrail, and the boy not only survived, he was able to leave the hospital the very next day.
God is incredibly good to have protected him from what could have been fatal. Thank you, Lord, for keeping an eye on him. We like him around. :)
Here are some pictures!
Faith and I
Hugh and his ring bearer
The groom, Hugh, with the... Hamburgler? You just had to be there. :)
The Groom and his Best Man
John and I
They couldn't have asked for a more perfect moment. <3
I've finally updated the Craft Store a bit with new styles I'd been working on.
Special thanks to those of you who helped kick off my online selling venture. I appreciate it and John no longer things my "religious blog" is a complete waste of time anymore.
It's the little things... heh.
Anyway, I mailed out the last remaining orders that needed to be filled and am mostly stocked on everything. The Miraculous Medal dangles, however, are just about depleted (one pair left). I'm waiting on a backorder of the centerpieces.
I've had several of you write in to ask about the cat beads. I don't make them. I wouldn't know how to make a glass bead! Ha ha. But yes, they've very adorable and I'm willing to work with you on creating a fun reminder of your furry friends.
I'm also looking into possibly donating 10% of the "Kitty Collection" sales to a local rescue organization. I haven't figured out exactly how to do that yet, but as soon as I do, I'll let you all know!
I'm open to any suggestions and feedback you might have (even if it's unhappy!). I promise not to be personally offended if you want / need to return something for whatever reason. I'm new at this, too, so I'm willing to work with you until you're happy so long as you're willing to give me the chance to ensure those ends!
Thanks so much for your well-wishes and prayers everyone! Blessings!
1st three projects!
I've been trying really hard to expand my skill set recently. I've decided to get serious about trying my hand at sewing, and I finally buckled down and agreed to give jewelry making a go.
Tonight was my first attempt at jewelry making and it was so much fun!!! I went with two friends I don't get to see much of - Faith and Sam. Double happy!
Jewerly making, itself, was definitely a lot harder than I thought it'd be, but once you get the hang of it, you can't stop!
Anyway, our first "project" was simply a string of beads we had to wire together. It was to teach us how to use the various tools to make the loopy things that connect the beads together. A series of seven beads (5 large, 2 super tiny) took us about 20 minutes to complete, but once we did, we were ready for the earrings!
The earrings were a bit more complicated because of the center piece (something called a briolette?). Once we figured that out, though, the rest was cake. I made the purple earrings for my first attempt (since I'd been wanting purple earrings for about a year and hadn't found any I liked enough to buy). I'm pretty pleased with the way they turned out. On the way out, I picked up the two rose beads and the four "leaf" beads you see in the picture above.
After I put Vince to bed, I found an old pair of earrings and dismantled them in order to get two spare beads to recycle into the rose earrings that became my third attempt (the first without any help!). I'm so happy with how they turned out. In fact, I'm wearing them as I write this!
Anyway, it was so much fun learning a new skill. I absolutely cannot wait to go back and learn some more!!! And what a great excuse to get out with friends. I've missed that sort of camaraderie. What a blessed night!
Sam, myself and Faith showing off the fruits of our labor!
Theresa and I
Today I got to help throw my friend, Theresa, her bridal shower. It was a blast!
I even wore pink for the occasion (she's a huge fan of pink).
Anyway, it was really nice getting to meet all the wonderful ladies who've been dropping me messages and phone calls these last couple months with their respective RSVPs. Putting a face to the lists of names I now seem to have memorized is nice. Ha!
Anyway, since this is one of the five separate parties I've been helping to coordinate, one of my friends asked me to list some of the things I ended up doing that weren't trashy or marriage / bride degrading.
May this help her and the rest of you looking for fun things to do for a shower!
Vistaprint. Seriously. For anything printed, I use Vistaprint. It's like the Salvation Army of print shops. I chose a postcard format with a butterfly backdrop (since she loves butterflies) and went to town.
I stayed super simple on this one. I created my own crossword puzzle using an excel spreadsheet (for the blocks) and Word for the clues. I used clues that were unique to Theresa and her fiance, but I tossed in some general "wedding" hints in there, too.
We also had a candy counter filled with Reeses Pieces (due to Theresa's sometimes nickname in high school - Reeses). Folks could guess how many pieces were in the dispenser and the closest number won the dispenser. We ended up giving it to a woman to take back to her 1st grade classroom. :)
Finally, little things like winning a prize if the bride opened your gift first, if you had a sticker on the back of your poem (part of the favors), or best "First Kiss" story (done at the individual tables) kept folks entertained as Theresa opened the line of presents.
I don't know if this'll help anyone, because these were really, REALLY specific to Theresa, but who knows?
Keeping the butterfly theme going, I found these incredible Murano glass butterfly keychains online. I tried to get them in pink (her favorite color), but they only made them in purple / blue. I got them anyway, because I knew she'd still really like them (especially since they matched the invitations).
From there, I knew I'd want to make her chocolate keys to go along with the keychain. I found the molds online (Amazon, I think) and purchased the meltable candy from AC Moore. I also got little pink heart candy to spruce up the key molds a bit.
Finally, to tie everything together, I wrote a poem entitled "The Key to Love."
Back in high school, I used to keep a book that would keep tabs on all the poetry I'd write. Theresa would sometimes keep track along with me, and after I hit the 200 mark, she said I'd have to write her wedding vows one day. I replied that I wouldn't write her vows, but I'd definitely write a poem for her. This was that poem, and it tied together the favors nicely.
This is what it all looked like:
Prizes - I admit I went a bit overboard on these, but I like variety!
I ordered a bunch of yummy smelling candles online. They were wonderful, a great price, and who doesn't love a yummy smelling candle? Theresa and her mom love those things, so I figured if we had any left over, they'd be more than happy to take them.
A couple nice accessory scarves found their way into the prize bags because I found them on sale while I was at AC Moore.
Two pretty (and sweet smelling) perfume spritzes were also found on sale, so they, too, found their way into the prize bags.
Oh, and the cake - Theresa's mother wanted to provide the cake, so when she asked me what should go on it, I said, "Just make sure it's pink and has butterflies."
This is what she came up with:
So that's about it. Lots of fun was had by all. Happy planning to all you ladies out there!
Oh! And the wording to the poem:
The key to love is simple
yet so very hard to find -
For some it's in a sonnet
or two roses intertwined.
For others it's a mystery
with an ever-lasing quest
to find "the One," a soul-mate
or the man most richly blessed.
There are those who search in vain
amongst novels, songs or plays
for this key that's ever hidden
in an ordinary haze.
The key is not some trophy
or a prize that's won and done.
It's a friendship that rekindles
with each rising of the sun.
So search out not a soul-mate
or a lover, god or spouse
Look not in romance novels
or in bankrolls, cars or house
The key is there before you
in a friendship strong and true
Love, sacrifice and compromise
The vows of "Yes, I do."
(She's a fan of rhyming quatrains... at least those were her favorites back in high school).