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!

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

A Trip to Missing Willow Farms

Earlier this month I had the incredible fortune of having befriended a fellow crafter on my favorite crafting community Craftster. "MissingWillow" kindly selected me to be her partner for the Altered Spool Craft Swap that I signed up for. Each participant was to decorate or alter a thread spool - or in some cases larger ribbon or chord spools - in a theme from her partner's wishlist. Generally items are shipped to another crafter that could be anywhere in the country, or in some cases anywhere in the world. MissingWillow and I live a little under two and a half hours from each other, so she invited me to visit her farm and swap our crafted items in person. When she sent me an invitation, I was pretty thrilled to be meeting another member of Craftster in person for the first time ever. I've been a member since 2008, so I'm sure there have been other opportunities for something like this to happen. I adore animals, so the added bonus of visiting a farm made me ecstatic.

We started our visit with an amazing brunch that I sadly did not photograph. However, among the several choices of food, was a whole loaf of La Farm sourdough bread that I bought that morning in Cary, NC, before heading that way. This loaf was crazy huge. I couldn't resist buying the whole loaf to present to our hosts. Pretty much everyone present at brunch let out an expletive upon first seeing this giant. It was so tasty on top of being a bit of a spectacle.

After a delightful meal, we traded our altered spools. MissingWillow presented me with an amazing Alice in Wonderland-themed spool which was accompanied with a hilarious story about pressing a Walmart employee to sell her the over-sized spool along with the undesirable clearance-marked ribbon it held. I'm extremely happy to be the new owner of this delightful piece of art. As soon as I find a small china cabinet or curio for our kitchen, it will find a place next to my teacup collection. It even had the teeniest of pastries - my favorite are the macarons because I am crazy about macarons these days!


And I gave to her a needle-felted zombie sheep complete with an antique wooden spool body with an embroidered scroll wrapped about it.

After some moderate squealing over our new possessions, our tour of the farm began.  Our first stop was to visit the flock. For being a crafter that uses lots of wool for creating, I am painfully unaware of the type of sheep that might be found on a farm. One variety we saw were hair sheep that didn't require shearing. There coats looks like they just pealed right off on their own. My photo-taking was obviously lacking because I failed to get a picture of Lizzy, the wonderful Great Pyranees puppy that is to be the sheep guardian.We also got to see their dog Jack working the sheep, which was super impressive. I am so amazed at what dogs can be taught.

There were goats that shared the pasture with the sheep, but our next visit was to see a goat named Summer about some milking. I have never milked an animal in my memory, so this was quite exciting. I was really no good at it, and my husband put me to shame when he had a go. Summer was quite patient with us (as long as she had food in her bucket!)

After our go at milking a goat, we visited the chickens. They got to enjoy some leftover biscuits from brunch right out of my hand. This was torture, mostly because the biscuits smelled so yummy. 

We had such an amazing day visiting Missing Willow Farms. I look forward to meeting MissingWillow in person in the future, and I send many thanks to her and her husband for having us!


Sunday, June 15, 2014


Welcome to my blog, and thank you for visiting! I hope to tell you all about my hobbies, travels, and other adventures. If you stick around, you will get to read about various crafts, DIY-projects, gardening, and more.

I have been dabbling in art since I was a child. The life changing event that threw me head first into the crafting world was receiving a sewing machine for my 17th birthday. It was an unwanted gift that I quickly learned to love, and now I can't imagine my life without it. Shortly before that I was experimenting with planting heat-loving seeds in the wonderful climate of the Florida Panhandle. My love for all things handmade or green and leafy has gotten stronger through the years.

I now live in Raleigh, NC, with my husband and our two cats Gemini and Castor. We migrated here from Panama City, FL, just a few years ago to pursue our careers in engineering. We bought our first home in April this year, so I hope to sprinkle in some stories about our experiences as home owners.

I hope you stick around! Thanks for checking in.