Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Tutorial and Pattern: Recycled Mooshy Belly Bunny

This all came about because of a large multi-colored stack of stripey tees I have had taking up space in my workshop for months. The t-shirts were all thrifted and reclaimed and salvaged from our own outgrown boxes of clothing, of course. When I started collecting them, I admit, I had no idea what I intended to do with them. But those colorful stripey tees kept calling my name every ime I went to the thrift store...even Mr Beeper commented when folding a freshly washed pile how lovely they were to look at. Yep.
And so here we are, a little Mooshy Belly Bunny tutorial and pattern download for you so you can cut into some of your own discarded stripey tees and get something simple and sweet back from it.

And this is an easy plushie to make--you can turn this out in about 1 hour. For real ( I made three, I would know). So, for those of you who have left comments stating that you do sew but want to sew more, and more specifically, want to sew plushies but are a little intimidated to try--well, this tutorial is dedicated to you. Yes, you. And you know who you are. Anyone can make this little guy, and even with a screw up or two, it will still look sweet and be mooshy and stuff.

And need I also point out that this is the prefect last-minute bunny to make for someone's easter basket? You could easily do it tonight.

So, go root through your boxes of discarded clothes, dig through the bowels of your kids'closets, find some stripey tees and go to it. Because I know you can make this one. And I know the results will be just fine. Just relax, drink a glass of wine (or two) if you have to, and try to enjoy this. It's just a little bunny. Easy peasy, people.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Lucky Day Give-Away: Mr Cotton Tail

Once again, it is your lucky day. I just so happen to have an extra little blue plaid Mr Cotton Tail waiting to find a home with one of you. He is made from a vintage wool Pendleton shirt that used to belong to Mr Beeper (before the aforementioned washed it in too warm of water and the arms were suddenly two inches too short), and has a lovely little pouf of a tail made from reclaimed yarn picked up at my favorite local thrift store.

If you are interested, please leave a comment sharing with me what your favorite crafting technique is (sewing? crocheting? decoupage? paper quilling?...you get the idea) and which technique you wish you knew how to do better (or at all). You should leave your comment by the end of the day on Friday, April 2, and I will announce the winner on Saturday, April 3.

Oh, and please leave your email address with your comment. I have not asked you to do this in the past, but I actually have an as of yet unclaimed giveaway from a previous lucky-day-give-away (Margie Oomen? I am talking to you...if you are reading this, please do contact me because there is a little bunny with your name on it just waiting for you...if I do not hear from you by this weekend, your bunny is destined for a Toy Society drop next month, I am afraid), and would prefer to know what I am giving away will actually make its way to someone rather than languishing on my windowsill...

So, bon chance, mes cheries and I eagerly await your comments.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

New Crafty Links and Lots o' Easter-y Projects

I just updated the Projects Found Elsewhere You Should See button over there in the sidebar. Lots of lovely easter-y and spring-y projects over there for you to check out--projects for the kiddies, but also a couple of big people projects too. Go check them out and make something handmade (or 2 or 3...) this week to tuck into an Easter basket, or to give as a special spring-time gift. I will be back here tomorrow with another tutorial of my own for you...in the meantime, happy-crafty-link-surfing.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Kiddo Travel Desk: Thanks MerMag!

Made this on on Monday for Beeper--an uber-handy-dandy travel desk for kiddos. Check out all the cool features...
...handy pockets to hold a gaggle of markers, and anything else you want to zip into a little pocket...
...an applique monogram so your kid will not confuse his travel desk with anyone else's in the car, plus nice button and loop closures for the EXTRA pockets that reside behind other pockets (yes, that's right, pockets on pockets...oh the stuff you can stow...)
...and even more handy pockets on the other side to hold more stuff and a water bottle if you want...
...and while I forgot to take a photo of it, this is the pillow that slides into the pocket on the backside of the desk, under the board that sits in there too. This means you can remove the board and the pillow at will so you can launder the desk when your kiddo spills his grape juice all over it (oh, and did you note the convenient carrying handle pictured in the first photo?)...
And you can make one too! Simply visit Merrilee's blog--MerMag--where you can find her tutorial on how to make a travel desk like the one she made for her own kiddo (see more photos of her desk design here).

I did make some small modifications to Merrilee's design--1) appliqued the desktop initial instead of embroidering it 2)did not make the pockets slotted to hold individual pencils--I wanted my pockets to be deep and big enough to hold a handful of markers or crayons so they could be at the ready for Beeper to color (when you color everything in rainbow colors just 4 crayons will not do) 3) I made my slot for the desk board big enough to accommodate a pillow insert (then skipped the step of creating a stuffed pillow pocket to the desk)--what I love about this particular modification is that I sewed a cotton fleece cover for the pillow insert so it can do double-duty as an actual pillow when pulled out from the travel desk slot.

And I have to tell, you we put it to use last night during our 10 hour drive to central Illinois (doing time with the in-laws), and it worked beautifully--Beeper colored and did dot-to-dots and played with his monster magnets and then ate his dinner on it...this travel desk comes highly recommended by 2 out of 2 moms (um, that would be me and Merilee).

Sunday, March 21, 2010

In My Shop: Egg Design Felt Books

Get your own egg-centric felt busy book . Find them in my shop--right here.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Tutorial and Pattern: Felt Egg Design Book

Come have a look at what is inside this little book...

I've been wanting to make some sort of little creative felt book for a while now, and then last week, in the middle of a completely unrelated meeting at my day job with some boring white guys in suits, I just started having all these ideas for new tutorials I could create around Easter and spring related themes. Not sure where the inspiration was in that scenario, but I came out of that meeting with a whole list of ideas scribbled in the margins of my notebook. So, this is the first in a couple more to come...

I had something sort of traditional in mind at first for this little egg design book, but then just found I loved making the kooky monster and character faces more than anything else...so the shapes I started cutting out from felt became more and more conducive to facial features rather than stripey and dotted eggs.
Whatever the case, I love the portability of this book and its open-ended creative potential using just basic felt shapes in a variety of colors. While I admit, it has taken me all week to really work out the end result you see here, the book really should come together quite easily. (don't let the 9 pages of instructions scare you--almost half are rectangular templates).
Here is the tutorial for you...

Please take photos of any new and interesting egg designs you or your kiddos come up with and share them in my Beeper Bebe Project Flickr group--I would so love to see them. Just because I know you will come up with some good ones, and I want to share in the fun.

Happy felt book making.
(oh--and did I mention I will be putting the books you see here up in my Etsy shop? Well, I will, sometime later this weekend--and I have a couple extra I am making...so if you are too lazy to make your own, you can just buy your own--I got no judgments about that.)

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Some Local Color

I just wanted to share some of the stuff around here giving me a little happy boost whenever I see it. It is all about color (a continuing ode to Beeper and his rainbow vomit coloring style). Like these melamine mixing bowls in a lovely nesting rainbow set. They are designed by Michael Graves for Target. And while I already own a couple of sets of ceramic mixing bowls I could not walk away without bringing them home to my kitchen. Bliss in a bowl (or 6).And this. Have you seen the lunch boxes by GoodByn? We bought one for Beeper earlier this year and I am grateful for it every single day that I pack it. There are so many reasons to love it: made from recycled materials, comes with 3 sheets of stickers so the kiddies can do it up in their own style (without the influence of any mainstream cartoon characters), bento-influenced with all of its little compartments, dishwasher-friendly, you do not need to use baggies or individually portioned items because each food item will stay contained in its own compartment, and it can be recycled when you are done with it. Go see the GoodByn site. Get your own--in fact, I am waiting for the adult version so I can have my own.
And this is Beeper's latest doodle face. It is a wizard. Ala Dumbledore, I think (or so I like to think since I have great affection for Dumbledore, like he is my favorite eccentric uncle or something). He happens to be holding 3 wands in each hand too, in case you did not notice.

And on an entirely separate side note--I wanted to share some info with all of you about the Rainbow Sunshine Plushie fiasco. Coincidentally, my brother-in-law happens to work in the US Patent Office--he is an uber-smart guy with a science-y PhD AND a law degree, for good measure. He actually reviews patents for his job. Naturally, I sent a little note his way when Taggie's attacked. And what I learned was that I actually was in violation of their patent. He said with the way it was written, what they had actually patented was specifically the use of folded ribbon. I know. He thought it was a little surprising too that there was a patent on that. He did say that if I had the inclination, I could set about trying to challenge their patent, and find some examples prior to the original patent date, showing that they were not the first to use ribbons in the way they do. Tempting--but not really. At this point, I could give a rip. I am just over it. And while I still think it is ridiculous, I have to admit that it has been a good lesson in patent law, but more valuably, it has taught me how supportive all of YOU are. I was truly wowed by the support so many of you showed to me over this crazy issue. And your own commitment to standing up to the man, when called upon. The comments you left made me smile, laugh and just feel downright warm because I knew I was not alone. So, thank you for all of that. Thanks for visiting, reading, and supporting. It is that sort of thing that makes all the time I spend on this blog worth it. I love you, man (big group hug vibe coming your way).

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Please Meet Socrates

I want to introduce you to Socrates. We found each other on Friday, at our local Humane Society. Beeper and I always go out together on Friday afternoons to do a little something fun together, and we decided we would visit the Humane Society this week. In my defense, it was supposed to be just that, a visit--one that only involved some looking and maybe some petting...but I suppose thinking that it would be that was quite naive. Especially if you lost your beloved cat a couple of months ago. But about Socrates...

He was the only cat in the entire place mournfully meowing for all he was worth, in addition to sticking his entire paw up to the shoulder through his cage bars and waving it around maniacally, positively pleading for release. Naturally, he caught our eye. But then the clever volunteer sidled up and slyly informed us that Socrates only behaved that way because he loved to play. Oh, and also, did we know what a lovely, friendly cat he is? And then she went in for the kill--asking us if she could take him out from the cage so we might pet him and just play with him a bit. To which Beeper, of course, nodded so vigorously I thought he might give himself some sort of shaken-baby type of injury.

So, there we were--in a little room, with Socrates, and a few toys. And I am sure you can only imagine what happened--Socrates did his damnedest to show us how very good he is at playing with little boys who are 5 years old and making them dissolve into hysterical giggles, and then he sidled up to the mama, rubbing his head against her, looking inquisitively into her eyes, and asking, "Meow?" A real professional, I tell you.
You can see now, we didn't even have a chance. Resistance was futile. We just rolled over and said, "We'll take him." I think the whole visit took about 10 minutes from entry to committing to adopt Socrates. We were like injured wildebeests come to drink at the lion's watering hole--easy prey the moment we walked in.

But he is the perfect cat for us. And I do mean, perfect. He is so adoring and affectionate and ridiculously tolerant of Beeper and most importantly, does love to play (endlessly). He and Beeper have been inseparable--tossing and chasing balls, reading and cuddling in Beeper's teepee, and even watching birds together out the window.
Socrates was a stray kitty. He had been at the Humane Society an entire month--hard for me to believe no one else found his manic meowing and paw waving as irresistible as we did. And Socrates was the name he came to us with--and despite my offer to name him BatKitty, Beeper was adamant that we keep the name Socrates. We really do not know why he was named Socrates...perhaps because he does love to engage in dialogue (if you talk to him, he always has something to say back to you).

Whatever the case, he is part of our little family now. Curled up in a patch of sunshine as we speak. A bit of good fortune found at the Humane Society (and like public libraries--isn't the Humane Society such a good, good thing?), even if we were easy prey.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Eat This: Irish Rachel Sandwich

I have to admit, I hate Reubens. I am not particularly fond of corned beef and have always hated sauerkraut ever since I was 5 years old and an evil nun at catholic school made me eat it, even though I warned her I did not like the taste of it, and then I vomited all over the cafeteria table like some sort of demon-possessed child in The Exorcist. (serves her right)

But then last summer a colleague and I met for lunch at The Local--a perfectly lovely Irish pub in Minneapolis--and I had one of these sandwiches. I love the notion of replacing the two things I don't like, with two ingredients I really do like--turkey and cole slaw. Also, I used to live in Ireland, and the Irish really were always eating cole slaw on their sandwiches, so it felt familiar to eat this (although I never really ate a sandwich quite like this in Galway).

So, with St Patty's day right around the corner, thought the timing might be good to share this recipe with you. And I can only make a strong suggestion that you enjoy this with a pint of Caffrey's (Mr Beeper claims it is some of the best in Irish ale and gets hearts in his eyes when he spies it on the beer list).

Incidently, if you ever make it to Minneapolis, you should 1) call me, and 2) make a point of visiting The Local. It is as close to an Irish pub as you will come in the US and is run by real Irishmen, and the chips and vinegar are authentic, and unbelievably (but true), sells more Jameson Irish Whiskey than any other place on planet earth. I mean, as I said, I used to live in Ireland, and trust me, there is no small amount of whiskey consumed in that country in their own prolific pubs--but apparently, here in my hometown, we can out-drink the Irish when it comes to whiskey. And as a girl who enjoys her whiskey, well, I do my best to help out.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

A Litter of Mr Cottontails

A litter of 5 bunnies made from recycled wool suiting (and one from a Pendleton wool shirt) are in my shop. Find them here.
And these bunnies have back, baby.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Read This: My Many Colored Days

I know. You've probably seen this book before--or maybe already even own it. My Many Colored Days by Dr Seuss. But the thing is--it really is one of my very favorite all-time books. And it has been a favorite of Beeper's ever since we gave him a board version when he was two.
But what if, somehow, by some sad twist of fate--like that you were raised in a locked and dank basement with no access to sunshine or libraries--you had never seen this book? And, that's why I have to tell you about this book even though you probably already know about it.
I love the simple rhyme based around the the simple themes of feelings expressed through colors and animals. Personally, I relate to the notion of the color of your mood shifting from one end of the color spectrum to another from day to day. I admit, I am like that. And guess what? So, is Beeper. (poor Mr Beeper is one of the least capriciously moody people I know--the man is like water, flowing from one day to the next, with few ripples)
But look at all those gorgeous illustrations--done by Steve Johnson and Lou Fancher, by the way and not the Dr. I love the blissful marriage of his words and their pictures. Honestly, I cannot imagine a book being much better than this.
And the colors. Not quite like a rainbow threw up on it, but so many happy and pretty colors, nevertheless. No wonder Beeper loves it. How can you help but love it too?

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

In My Shop: Baby Animal Applique Onesies

Paired Onesies. Made from 100% recycled onesie goodness. Embellished with some sweet and simple animal appliques.

A gift any baby would appreciate (particularly when paired with a rattle--a mere suggestion).

Find them here.