Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Oh, Hello Dear! A Whimsical Crafted Shrine

One of the things I'm very thankful for on Craftster.org is the Swap Angel system. I've been involved in 25 organized craft swaps since joining, and on occasion have had to receive an "angel package". For those sad times when someone just doesn't pull through and send you a crafted gift in return for the one you have sent, a volunteer will step in to create a package just for you. Depending on the angel's situation, there are different perks or rewards for fulfilling this task - reversing negative feedback or receiving a type of premium membership that gets you access to other areas of the forum.

One of the recent swaps I was involved with was the "Whimsical Shrine Swap". I had great fun turning a solar pathway light into a little fairy/nature shrine to send off to Lora of Cackle and Hoot. In return I received the loveliest shrine to birds, specifically native varieties that I have been looking for while bird-watching in my backyard.

Unfortunately, another member of the swap was flaked on. This was such a fun swap, and the crafter did such a nice job on the shrine she sent, so I volunteered to be her angel. I'm so excited about the resulting paper-crafted result! This shrine taught me some new crafting skills that will definitely be reappearing in the future. I sneaked in a few of my favorite things into the shrine also (cardinals, foxes, mushrooms).

Sunday, September 21, 2014

A Well-Flowered Celebration

As I mentioned a couple weeks ago, I was involved in organizing a local group of crafters to make crafted flowers, garland, bouquets, and other decorations for one of my very dear friends wedding. We had less than a month and cranked out over a hundred flowers made with various materials and styles. It all came together beautifully, and I was so proud of what our little clique could do when we put our minds to it. I did the felt ones, other gals did ones from melted fabric, tulle, crocheted yarn, origami, and coffee filters. There were also some white ones that were originally from my wedding dress, but I had them taken off since the clashed with the lace, so they were more of a craft supply than something sentimental. It was still nice to contribute that though. I also provided the vintage suitcase and sign for the card box. The bouquet handle was made with a vintage wooden bobbin that someone wrapped in coordinating yarn.

We never got pictures of the finished bouquet before the night of the wedding, so the colors are weird from the church stage lights in these:

 The couple had am English Tea themed cake reception. I provided scones, too! The groom is a Brit, so I thought it was all quite appropriate and fun.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Take a Deep Breath for August

So many things have been going on this month that I haven't had a chance to breathe! So much for the regular posts I imagined myself pumping out every week when I started this blog. At the beginning of the month, a good friend and fellow displaced Floridian started planning for her wedding which was on Friday. I took on the responsibility of providing crafted decorations as well as a healthy serving of scones for the wedding. But we put that discussion on pause for a second because the second weekend of August, I was fortunate enough to have attended the 5th Annual Lambstock at Border Springs Farm in Virginia, and that deserves some mention first. More on the wedding stuff later.

My friend and fellow Craftster "MissingWillow" invited me to join her at Lambstock this year. My husband and I were blown away by the three-night event celebrating the super delicious lamb. Chefs from all around gathered together to prepare fantastic dishes and meals of all sorts and enjoy music, some good drinks, and great company - all to be followed by camping in a sheep pasture with a lovely view of the mountains beyond.The busiest night saw at least two hundred folks.

The view from the camping area

Lamb cooked all day over a fire

Grilling on a Cowboy Cauldron
The biggest paella pan ever!

Did I mention free booze? (This was delicious)

How about a Bloody Mary for breakfast? With a lamb meatball garnish!

Thanks, Sunwolf, for playing on the last night despite the dwindling crowd after three days of nonstop rain.


I definitely did not have enough alcohol before deciding it was time to dance. Had a blast anyways.


We enjoyed lamb churros with lamb dulce de leche sauce on the last night.
And the trip wouldn't be complete without a visit to say hi to the sheep.

I had so much fun, and cannot wait for next year! I'm now mentally prepared for the degree of awesomeness that Lambstock has achieved. 

Thanks for reading,

Sunday, July 20, 2014

A Quick Trip to the United Kingdom

The first week of this month my husband, eight of our good friends, and I traveled to the UK together. I've been talking about this trip with my college friends for years, and I'm amazed that it actually happened and all of us made it together. Our first stop was London, then we took an excursion to Cardiff for the Doctor Who Experience (which was mostly the inspiration for the group trip because we are a nerdy group), and Edinburgh. We had very beautiful weather for most of our trip with just a couple spots of rain here and there. It's exciting to share all these memories with so many friends. Here are some snippets of our adventure.

One of the views that we got coming off the Underground on our way to Westminster Abbey - Big Ben!

A reconstruction of Shakespeare's Globe Theatre

The Palm House at the Kew Gardens

The Doctor Who Experience

The three TARDIS props from the 50th Anniversary Doctor Who special - I'm really loving the War Doctor's on the right.

An unexpected discovery while checking out the docks in front of the Roald Dahls Plaza - a Shrine to Ianto of Torchwood (a fictional character from a TV show)

A view of Edinburgh from the Scott Monument

The Glasshouses entrance at the Royal Botanic

Hillside near the dormant volcano in Edinburgh

Maybe I'll show some more detailed photos later. I took over a thousand pictures, so there is lots of good stuff to share.

Thanks for reading,

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Craft Swapping

One of my favorite parts about being a part of a crafting community is craft swaps. Getting to put together boxes of handmade goodness to ship off for someone else to enjoy is so much fun. In return receiving my own package of handmade items just sweetens the deal so much more. There are many crafting communities that organize craft swaps. My preferred community is Craftster. I've been a member since November of 2008. Before that I just read members' posts and secretly admired the craft projects that they shared.

In October of 2011, I signed up for my first craft swap. It was something that I wanted to do for ages, but was always too afraid of. The particular swap I joined was the "Jar of Whimsey" swap. If you have never heard of a Jar of Whimsey, it is typically a mason jar or other container filled to the brim with trinkets, small supplies, and other fun items. It was a very easy introduction to craft swaps since the crafting requirements were pretty low.

Here are a couple of the Jars of Whimsey I received in my first craft swap!
And here are a couple that I sent in the second Jar of Whimsey swap I joined.

  I have been in a total of 23 organized craft swaps on Craftster so far, and I don't foresee myself backing down anytime soon. On occasion I also do private swaps with friends for some extra special crafty goodness.

There have been way too many amazing craft swaps to choose a favorite, but here are some crafts that I sent to other crafters, and the treasures that people have made in return:

I sent this little guy who resides in his very own solar-powered garden lantern for a shrine swap.

And received this amazing hand-built nature-inspired shrine

This was one of my favorite crafts I've sent, which was for a decorative pillow swap - a needle felted fox on upcycled sweaters.

And I received this lovely deer head applique pillow that still sits on my couch with four other handmade pillows.

Another hard one to give up - I sent this wood-burned Doctor Who spoon for a Make-a-Friend swap along with other items.

And I received this very truthful hoopla (decorative embroidered hoop).

Next week I'll be receiving yet another amazing package of handmade gifts - this time with a whimsical woodland theme. I can't wait to share what I receive and to see how my craft swap partner likes what I've sent!


Sunday, June 22, 2014

Backyard Birdwatching Journal: Entry #1

When my husband and I first saw our home while house shopping earlier this year, one of the things that really appealed to us was the big backyard opening onto a lovely wooded area. At that time of year, the trees were bare and there was still ice and snow on the ground from one of those freak snow storms that hit us this year. It was still absolutely gorgeous. As soon as we moved in in April, I made a habit of getting up on the weekends to sit on our back porch and watch the birds for long periods of time. It has been a fun challenge to try to identify all of our visitors. My "educated guesses" on these birds' names have a chance of being wrong, so if you think you might have a better guess, let me know!

Today wasn't a good day for backyard bird watching because of the soggy weather, but here are some other recent photos I've gotten of our resident wildlife. This series was from a couple weekends ago when I realized that our neighbors' tree is a fruiting mulberry tree. The birds seemed to be enjoying the fresh snacks that the ripening mulberries provided.

A Gray Catbird taking away a mulberry from our neighbors' tree

An Eastern Bluebird perching pretty for his photo.

I'm not sure if this is a Brewer's Blackbird or a Common Grackle or something completely different!

A silly Red-bellied Woodpecker hanging onto the side of our feeder.

A Northern Cardinal with a mulberry-stained beak.

And a couple of Carolina Chickadees sharing a mulberry.

You can see more of my backyard birding photos over on my Flickr here!