A DIY Wreath from Paper Bags and Faux Flowers

Arts & Crafts, DIY

Who knew brown paper bags and faux flowers would make such a handsome wreath?

Crafty Little Gnome Adrienne Paper Bag Wreath

Adrienne at Crafty Little Gnome

This wreath is by Adrienne at Crafty Little Gnome. Very nice indeed! She used a commercial straw wreath base, but I bet you could replace that with a homemade base of some kind. And depending on the color of the flowers, the wreath can be as versatile as you want.

Note: I wasn’t paid or perked to mention this; just passing along a good thing.

Shallow Shelves Swing out to Reveal Even More Shelving

DIY, Inspiration

DIYer Eileen, who blogs with her husband Ash at Just Measuring Up, built from scratch a set of gorgeous, narrow and shallow shelving that swings out to reveal even more shelving:

Just Measuring Up Ash Eileen Rainbow Swing-out Wall Shelves2

Ash and Eileen at Just Measuring Up

Doesn’t it look fabulous? I’ve often wanted shallow shelving for smaller paint containers of sewing notions or other crafting gear. Or tea, to think of it. 🙂

Visit Eileen and Ash at Just Measuring Up for the how-to.

Note: I wasn’t paid or perked to mention this; just passing along a good thing.

June 2020 Recap

Newsletters

Massachusetts covid-19 cases went down enough so that we moved to phase 2 of reopening this month. Yay for less death! It meant e.g. that restaurants could open their patios and non-essential shops were allowed to open with restrictions and safety measures in place. (I haven’t gone yet myself.) The best is that we were able to get our first curbside pickup of library materials. The process is slower than browsing shelves yourself, of course, but I’ll take it!

If all goes well, as it still seems, we might be starting phase 3 early to mid-July. That would mean opening movie theaters with moderate capacity. Movies and dinner out afterwards are things I miss most (now that libraries are available), but I confess to being over-careful; I can’t decide yet when I might feel safe to go.

I continue to deal with mild respiratory symptoms on and off. Namely, it’s a cough that comes and goes, but it still seems to be merely asthma-related. My allergy symptoms have, thankfully, subsided for now. I am usually due another bout at the end of the summer, so I’m going to take full advantage of these coming weeks when I don’t have to deal with plant reproductive matter. Ahh, life is good when you can smell the summer!

I’ve heard of people having many more nightmares this spring – no surprise there. A bit inexplicably, I still haven’t had a single one. In fact, the other day I woke up in the middle of filling the dishwasher. It’s a “You know you’re middle-aged when” moment, I guess! 😀

In any case, fingers crossed (U.S. way) and thumbs up (Finnish way) that people continue to behave in ways that will repress the virus!

I’ve had energy to plan and do crafts again. In May I made a piece of heart wall art in rainbow ombre. An in-progress photo is below, but you can see the finished piece at my Flickr account.

Ombre Rainbow Heart Art WiP3

This month I have, among others, made a smaller heart art piece as a gift, refreshed two photo frames, whitewaxed a small wall shelf and ordered lots of materials for other projects and updates.

Whitewaxed Wall Shelf3

Foodwise, we’ve had a good month, including this amazing floral focaccia made by a friend:

Flower Focaccia

She did a bakeathon to raise money for Black Lives Matter and other good causes. Our focaccia is not just beautiful but so tasty – quite possibly the best I’ve ever had.

This June we have also been treated to not one but two baby bunnies visiting our backyard with some regularity. It’s amazing – I’ve never seen wild rabbit young live, let alone on my yard. Earlier they looked very much like plushies – a fluffball topped with another fluffball for a head…

Baby Bunny by Raspberry Bushes

…but by now they’re starting to look like big bunnies:

Baby Bunny Starting to Grow

They’re still Very Smol. What a treat! ❤

We also may have a cardinal nest somewhere nearby, for we keep seeing both a male and a female cardinal around. And another visitor we don’t see every year is a snapping turtle.

Unfortunately, June in our corner of the state has been abnormally dry. It’s also been so hot that apart from sneaking in yardwork on some mornings, a lot of the time we just skip all except the absolute musts. Husband has given up on trying to plant a garden this year, and we may have lost a crop of grass seed, as the rain that was supposed to arrive a few days after sowing never materialized. I feel so bad for the crunchy grass, wilting plants, birds and small critters. (At least, if I’ve got it right, grass has evolved to withstand bouts of drought.) We actually set a shallow dish outside this year under the shadow of a rosebush to help the little critters stay hydrated.

Be considerate. Wash your hands. Wear your masks. Stay safe. ❤

P.S.: Note that due to the 4th of July holiday, I will have another short blogging break. Happy Independence Day to my readers in the U.S.! See you back again the first full week of July.

World Map Wall Art in Rainbow Ombre

Colors, DIY

Eileen and her husband Ash, who blog at Just Measuring Up, did a fantastic rainbow ombre wall art project with craft paints and a stencil of the world map:

Just Measuring Up Ash Eileen Rainbow Ombre World Wall Art

Ash and Eileen at Just Measuring Up

Doesn’t it look fabulous?

And here is their project hung up:

Just Measuring Up Ash Eileen Rainbow Ombre World Wall Art2

Ash and Eileen at Just Measuring Up

In addition to giving you the how-to, Eileen also lists 6 other ideas for filling up a blank wall. Visit their site for a look!

Note: I wasn’t paid or perked to mention this; just passing along a good thing.

Online Finds: Abstract Art with Cooking Oil and Food Coloring

Arts & Crafts, Colors, DIY

Allison at Dream a Little Bigger came up with an ingenious way to make abstract art – with cooking oil and gel food colors:

Dream a Little Bigger Allison Food Color Art WiP

Allison at Dream a Little Bigger

Her point was to use something she already had. Can you believe the resist patterns were done with canola oil?

Dream a Little Bigger Allison Food Color Art

Allison at Dream a Little Bigger

Very nice! Apparently the colors change a little as the paper dries, but it looks so vibrant either way. I wonder whether you might be able to do wrapping paper with this technique?

Visit Allison’s tutorial at Dream a Little Bigger for more photos and a how-to.

Note: I wasn’t paid or perked to mention this; just passing along a good thing.

Dot Photo Frame Refresher

Arts & Crafts, DIY, Leveling Up

Many people in my social bubble have turned to handcrafts during the covid-19 pandemic as a way to pass the time and provide comfort. I’ve seen such a wide spread of projects and patterns and inspiration as a consequence, and enjoyed every one. Here’s a project of my own.

I’ll share what I thought would be a quick photo frame refresher but turned out to be anything but. The results are worth the effort, though, so all’s well that ends well. 🙂

I wanted to make over two older, uber-cheap 5”x7” wooden photo frames. They’re made from pine (I think) that had yellowed over the years, and I was quite tired of the darkened wood. I’ll first give the short version and the before and after photos, and after that the full saga.

Here’s a frame after the complete refresher: white wax, faux nailhead trim done with paint, and permanent marker polka dots.

Dot Photo Frame with Pens

Dot Photo Frame After

Apparently I didn’t take a before photo, but here’s a photo of similar untreated frames:

Walmart Wallniture Unfinished Wood Photo Frames

Walmart

The only difference is my frames were much more yellowed. (Oh, boy, how much more!) Here’s a frame in the middle of the transformation:

Dot Photo Frame Middle Closeup

I originally intended to try whitewaxing the frames. It’s a new-to-me technique I found via Cami at Tidbits. (I like her clear tutorial and whitewaxing projects; please visit her site if interested.)

However, I accidentally bought clear wax instead of white. (I worked on this just before and during some of the worst covid-19 panic in Massachusetts; I guess I had a coronabrain on.) Even while working on the frames I didn’t notice, because the clear wax looks white in the jar. Only after applying a couple of layers did I start wondering why the frames don’t seem to be gaining the lovely transparent white surface I expected… D’oh!

After some thought and more research I tried adding white acrylic crafts paint into the wax and wiping that on with a rag. Either I didn’t mix it properly or the rag wasn’t the best tool, for the surface came out quite uneven. You can see some of the effect in the photo above. However, it was much closer to what I had envisioned.

Perhaps I should’ve left well enough alone – indeed, in hindsight I think I would be quite happy with the improvised faux white wax – but at the time I was disappointed and wanted something else to “improve” the frames. I had an idea of trying to mimic nailhead trim with paint.

Dot Photo Frame Middle

I used an eraser at the end of a pencil and blue acrylic paint. Unfortunately, that made it worse. I’ve never been a polka dot person, and apparently this faux nailhead trim is close enough not to appeal to me. Plus, the eraser was a bit difficult to load with paint and use, even though I started with a clear expectation that the result wouldn’t necessarily be very even.

At this point I had to set the frames aside and chew the matter some more. Eventually, while looking for something else, I ran into two permanent marker tutorials. One is by Jessica from Cutesy Crafts (posted at DIY Candy), and the other by Tasha at Kaleidoscope Living. Both used letter stickers to mask off an area and applied small permanent marker dots all around them, spaced very tight close to the stickers, and wider and wider apart the further you went.

Bingo! I adapted the idea and used markers in five different colors. First I had to make a few dry runs on paper to see what kind of dot distancing and which color combinations I liked best.

Dot Photo Frame with Pens

I ended up starting with a few small brown spots here and there (maybe 4-8 in an inch of frame). Then I added dark blue and green dots, increasing the density slightly. Next, a few more spots of turquoise. Finally, I filled almost all remaining gaps between the blue “nailhead trim” and the rest of the marker dots with lime green.

Here’s the after photo again:

Dot Photo Frame After

…and a closeup:

Dot Photo Frame After Closeup

And only very, very belatedly did I notice that I completely forgot to wax-treat the inner edge of the frame, the one closest to the photo. Fortunately at that point I was able just to laugh at my poor coronabrain project!

And it actually doesn’t look that odd in the end. Live and learn! After all of the rigamarole, I was definitely able to earn a number of experience points from this project.

May 2020 Recap

Ahem Ahem!, Newsletters, Thumbs Up

At the end of the month, Massachusetts moved into the first stage of gradual opening. Accordingly, I’m happy to announce that Playfully Grownup Home on Etsy is open!

2019 Nov Dec Green Blue Collage

Please note: Due to the difficulties and delays in shipping internationally, at this point I will only deliver orders to the USA.

(I’m very sorry to have to do this, but as long as it’s impossible to tell how long shipping will take – or whether an order is going to reach its destination at all! – I can’t in good conscience inflict that kind of stress on my customers.)

From May 25, the first non-essential businesses were allowed to open, as long as certain precautions were in place. I have to say that, of all the business-related paperwork I ever expected to have to fill out, this wasn’t on the list: Massachusetts state Covid-19 Control Plan template form.

Covid-19 Control Plan Form

Fortunately for me, since I operate a one-person microbusiness, the procedures were really easy. I did write an outline of how I work during the covid-19 pandemic. If you’re so inclined, please have a look and let me know if you have any concerns.

Also during May, the Massachusetts confirmed cases finally, FINALLY, leveled! It took about 2 months, a month later than originally predicted. The hospitalizations graph had been trending down for longer than that, though. We’re not out of it yet, but I’m so happy and relieved we’re seeing definite signs of improvement!

The mild symptoms I mentioned in the April recap are unfortunately still with me, plus my eyes have started to itch. As far as I can tell this means they’re allergy- or asthma-based, so I’m not too worried, only inconvenienced. Other people are also reporting a bad allergy year, so it’s not just our neck of the continent.

May is also when the nature here absolutely, definitively moved on to spring: we’ve seen so many critters and birds come out to enjoy the sun, including this wild bunny hiding amongst tall grass:

Bunny Hiding in Tall Grass

We’ve puttered around the garden since it warmed up and finished some long-running outdoor projects. (And mowed for the first time.) My latest one is trying to transplant some wild violets into what I hope will become a natural bed by the backyard flagstone landing.

Violets Transplanted

I love our violets. You can’t really see it in this photo, but there are both white and purple ones. They’ve been especially welcome this spring, as are the other flowers. The best thing about them, though, is that the violets came along for a ride with some raspberry canes we got from Husband’s grandmother, who is no longer with us.

Foodwise, we’re managing with 2-week grocery runs, although at times it means ex tempore solutions and trial and error. Husband experimented with store-bought puff pastry and unsweetened apple sauce. Voila – an apple puff pastry loaf with pearl sugar on top.

Apple Puff Pastry Loaf

It was as delicious as it looks – instead of just sugar, you could taste the ingredients. This will be a keeper.

Stay safe. I know it’s more difficult now, 2 months into our new covid-19 world. My urge to go out to eat, go see a movie or visit the library like in the Before Times comes and goes. Mostly I’m okay being at home. I’m missing the ease of getting physical media from the library most of all. Maybe soon! ❤

Intricate Knitting Pattern Based on Pictish Artwork

Arts & Crafts, Design & Designers, Fabrics & Materials

Many people in my social bubble have turned to handcrafts during the covid-19 pandemic as a way to pass the time and provide comfort. I’ve seen such a wide spread of projects and patterns and inspiration as a consequence, and enjoyed every one. Here’s an example.

This intricate knitting pattern for a scarf by Lucy Hague is based on Pictish artwork. In Hague’s words, it “explores the relationship between key patterns and spirals – slowly morphing from one to the other, and then back again.”

Twitter Lucy Hague Kirriemuir

Lucy Hague at Twitter

Ravelry Lucy Hague Kirriemuir Closeup

Lucy Hague at Ravelry

Isn’t it absolutely gorgeous? The knitted surface can replicate curvilinear shapes well, and the purled background literally lifts up the pattern. Excellent design work!

The color is wonderful, too; it reminds me of the blues and greys in northern skies and waters. 🙂

Find the pattern at Ravelry.

Note: I wasn’t paid or perked to mention this; just passing along a good thing.

Quilling Artist Sena Runa: Update

Arts & Crafts, Colors, Design & Designers

I’ve shared quilling artis Sena Runa’s work before, but that was five years ago. (Yikes! Where does time go?) It’s high time to do an update.

Since I last posted, Runa has moved to Lisbon, Portugal. She also published a book, Quilling Art, and a second one, Quilling: 20 Beautiful Designs, will be out this summer. Congrats on both!

Like before, I’m only posting three of my favorites, but Runa is so productive it really is difficult to pick only from among her recent work.

World map (selection):

Facebook Sena Runa World Map

Sena Runa: World Map

Tardis – naturally, bigger on the inside!

Etsy Sena Runa Tardis

Sena Runa: Tardis

Welsh Dragon:

Instagram Sena Runa Welsh Dragon

Sena Runa: Welsh Dragon

Which one’s your favorite? I think I prefer the Tardis. 🙂

See her Instagram and Facebook accounts or Etsy shop for more!

Note: I wasn’t paid or perked to mention this; just passing along a good thing.

Last-Minute Han Solo Valentines

Arts & Crafts, Bits in Spaaace!, Geek out!

Need a last minute Valentine’s Day card for your Star Wars sweetheart? No problem – Havalah at Sister, What! made three free printable cards, and they’re not too scruffy-looking at all. Here’s the Han Solo one, for instance:

Sisters What Havalah Han Solo Valentines Printable

“I’d be solo without you” – LOL! So awesome. The other two designs clearly refer The Mandalorian series (which I haven’t seen yet, waah).

Thank you for sharing, Havalah!

Happy Valentine’s Day, or friends’ day as it’s known in Finland!

Note: I wasn’t paid or perked to mention this; just passing along a good thing.