Beary Handmade Christmas

Meet my latest project:

With the “extra” time I’ve found myself with I thought I would branch out from scarves and hats and see what I could do with three dimensional. I think it came out pretty darn good, if I don’t say so myself.

I’m trying to bust my rump to have some things put together for a crafts show this Saturday (while Chris is out of town and a toddler under foot and a busting headache and a grumpy attitude – yikes!) and I will be taking orders for these guys. For $35 this one of a kind handcrafted bear can be your little one’s little tag-along pal. You pick the colors (or let me know boy or girl) by Dec 8th and I will have it to you in time to go under the tree. Email me [elizabethbford(at)gmail(dot)com] or comment here to order.

Tell you friends. And thanks for contributing to the Feed the Ford Family Fund. (Don’t google it. It’s not official – yet.)

(This bear does contain some wool – if you prefer cotton, let me know…)

Lately.

Neglect doesn’t even begin to describe this little ol’ blog of mine. I won’t make excuses, we’d be here all day. However, this mama’s days as a working woman are soon drawing to a close (for now)… which means more times for the things that bring me joy. Time to cook. To read. To sew. To crochet. To play with a two year old before he turns three. To write. To hula hoop. To start my book. To volunteer. To love on my chickens. And my husband. To get my Dave Ramsey on. To dream about starting my own business (and then I’ll need to Dave Ramsey some more). To be.

Ahh.

And to hold you over a little longer, some photos of our recent(ish) happenings:

This kid turned two… I know, shut the front door.
Baby chicks were born… we’re not sure to which mama bird. They aren’t either. 
Who said chickens can’t fly?
Donuts (aka bagels) have been consumed in record number and Harry Potter scars have been worked on.
We’ve been honing in on our culinary skills – my sandwich, that he later finished, didn’t quite have the finishing touches it deserved.
Someone learned how to read a crochet pattern.
Camera strap orders – finisimo! (Order yours now if you would like one for Christmas!)
And remember this? We “decided” to give it another whirl. We’ve got plans for May 19(ish), 2012 – do you?

Bookmarks the Spot

While “Camp Noah” was in session (check back for more details and how you can sign up for this camp in the future), Bigail and I were feeling a little crafty. Flipping through Handmade Home by Amanda Blake Soule lead us to create, together, these little beauties:

She created the pictures all her own, drew them straight onto the vintage linen from my grandmother’s stash with permanent markers, and I went back over them with the thread she picked out. Once they were embroidered I threw a piece of batting behind the linen and put a back piece of scrap fabric to pull it all together. The “ribbon” is also vintage from mamaw’s stash… I am pretty pleased with how they turned out. And what a cool & useful way to keepsake a drawing forever…

These are Bigail’s & ALo’s, but there is one in the works for big brother Wilbur as well – the program director of Camp Noah has been a little busy lately. She will be back in the office this week…

The Handmade Home is full of great inspirations that you can create and make your very own out of recycled and vintage materials. So far I’ve done the feminine items, a wool hat, a market bag, the bookmarks and next on the list from her book is the Pillowcase Dress – repurposed from an embroidered pillowcase I found for a buck at the thrift store.

I like her very much – her approach to family, life, and simplicity are music to my ears. If only the internet and book world could translate into for real life. I think we would be friends…

Herbs the Word

I would like to think of myself as creative person, an artist even – usually.  I can sew, write, crochet, cook, bake, photograph (decently), felt, etc. to the extent that I would give someone one of the aforementioned creations.

What about painting, you ask?

Not. So. Much.

But that’s okay – because if I weren’t as bad as a two-year-old, blindfolded with their arms tied behind their back I would have never had (what I think) is this genius idea for an herb drying rack:

Putting on the finishing touches…

Drying: chives, oregano, & thyme

So this canvas was supposed to be a solid color with the words “Happiness is not a destination, it is the Journey” – inspired by an overpriced, “Made in China” version we saw last weekend in a store that shall remain anonymous. It was not my best work, so I slathered on a few more layers of reds to cover the words not really knowing what I wanted to do with it. It was about 10pm and I started scurrying about the house looking for eyelets and wire, totally focused on the goal – and voila! an herb drying rack.

I was so impressed with myself that I made two more 8×16’s  – one which is headed out to a special someone tomorrow. As soon as canvases go on sale again I will be racking up, whipping ’em up, and putting them in the shop to sell. If the Farmer’s Market (or booth already there) will have have me, I will try and sell them there as well.

How much would you pay for kitchen art with a purpose?

Sidenote: Herbs are great when dried. Hang the rack in a sunny and dry place – snip some  fresh herbs from your garden or buy some from your local market, bundle them up and hang with a clothespin, wait a couple weeks, then store your dried herbs in a glass jar. Use half the amount in recipes when using dry vs. fresh. Some good herbs to dry: thyme, oregano, sage, mint, dill, chives, rosemary, lavender…

Trash to Pleasure (Part 1 of Many)

Latest obsession – turning things otherwise classified as “trash” into useful and pleasing items.

Living on property at camp, this opportunity seems to be quite available as we are constantly updating, replacing, or forgetting about materials used for past projects. I can’t take all the credit for this one – mom spotted it down by the shop when we were taking some supplies back from the chicken coop construction. Once we cut the vines off that had grown around the cart we hauled it back to the house – and voila! a portable Herb Garden.

Reclaimed Utensil Cart turned Herb Garden

What next? Any ideas?

I Like Big Butts

…and I cannot lie.

Zane's Big Butt Baby Pants (pattern by Rae of "Made by Rae")

Hands down – this is the best baby/toddler pattern I’ve made. Mostly because they are functional but the fact that they are dripping with cuteness doesn’t hurt either.

This particular pair is made with fabric (the green) I rescued from my grandmother’s house that’s been sitting empty – well, full of treasures just not people – since 2004. It’s possible it dates back to the 80’s, maybe 70’s, slight chance even earlier. Shockingly it’s way better quality than a lot of what I come across here in the 21st century. Maybe not so shocking.

Look for them soon on the “Simply Shop” page of the blog and a link to Etsy. I’ve been given the go-ahead by Rae to sell my versions of the BBBPs made with her pattern. If you are interested in a pair of these puppies before they debut in the shop, please let me know. I’d love to craft them for your babe or a babe close to your heart.

Disclaimer: Your baby needs not be cloth diapered or have a big booty to ooze with cuteness in these pants. I don’t discriminate.

Handgrown Goodness

I am a little late in the game discovering this year’s hullabaloo about a growing movement for handmade goodness for the holidays, but I have to say, it’s about time, folks! Welcome to the eternally joyful world of gifts of labor and love.

We (the Bowens and Fords) have been doing something similar the past few years for Christmas exchanges – local products from your respective local markets – and a lot of times, but not always, these items lend themselves to handmade goodness ranging from produce to music to state flags. And we (C & me) have loved every single gift we have received and given.

Here are a few other folks who think this is a trend worth trying, not like the “wear faux fur with a military jacket” (or something like that) that will be over next week (we handmakers hope, anyway – and even if the trend dwindles, we will still be making and giving – so there):
  • Love, Lizzie – mostly kid-minded but she could make anything, I tell ya: skirts, capes, soft toys, bags, etc.
  • Plain and Joyful Living – simple family abundantly gifted in handworks.
  • Sew Liberated – great ideas and patterns for little ones and around-the-house items – and she talks about her cute kids, too
  • Made by Rae – Big Butt Baby Pants – enough said. – and she’s putting together a “Celebrate the Boy” month in February
Check these folks out for ideas and items to buy. The second link has a remarkable list of folks participating in Handmade Holiday 2010.

I won’t launch into a shpiel atop my soap box of why you should, why it’s better, who it’s good for, I will simply say this:
  • Value is not just monetary.
  • Mother Earth will rejoice in singing.
  • Life lessons gently implied.
  • Gifts that keep on giving.
  • Usable and/or consumable.
  • Gentler eco-footprint.
  • Local economy.
The end. Preaching over.

If you want to talk about any of the above topics in more detail, I’d be glad to indulge.

Felt So Good

In the midst of Christmas crafting my fanny off, I visited Living Felt in preparation to resupply my stock very soon (hint on gifts – still act surprised – thanks) and lo and behold I found something that makes me want to dance. I went to the “Testimonials” tab and found this:

Thank you !!


first project: a sweet bird mobile for a new baby… I got myself to Joann’s as hurriedly as I could and nearly fell out at how expensive a quarter of an ounce of roving was going to cost, and I needed a lot more than that. I was a bit discouraged that my new hobby was over before it began because I couldn’t afford it. Sad day in the life of a stay-at-home-crafting-to-keep-sane-because-I-live-in-the-woods-and-camp-is-starting-mama. And now I wouldn’t be able to make my mobile.

I pulled myself out of that close call with defeat and went home to do some more research online…And that’s when I found these fine folks, Living Felt. I quickly and easily found what I wanted and needed to get started at extremely fair prices. I spent about $30 and got a lot of variety of wool and colors…where at J’s it would have cost me almost three times that for the same amount.

Not to mention my order was shipped that same day with a sweet hand-written note from the company.

And then, just today, I got an email from them checking in to make sure I am enjoying my order and lending their assistance if I have any questions. They are good people, making sure they provide folks with the best product from humane practices… I will definitely continue to order from them…

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Holy Guacamole! I am so stinking honored! Not only published in craft but in word as well – and a link to the blog to boot (maybe I should pick up the pace around here)… I am very encouraged.

And because all of this crazy excitement, I am going to give away some felting goodness. Yes, that’s right, tell all of your friends. If a little one (or one to be) in your life needs to have a custom-color “Tweet Dreams” mobile hanging about their nursery, leave a comment here (one per day) and I will draw one week from today – so next Tuesday (11/23). Your mobile will be handcrafted and sent to you after the Thanksgiving holidays.

Spread the word. Get the bird.

Oh, you can also boost your possibilities if you get your friends to comment FOR you – just ask them to leave your name in the comment.

Thanks to Living Felt for proudly displaying my very first project, that now adorns my sweet new cousin’s nursery.

If you aren’t giving handmade for Christmas this year, think about it. Handmade or local – it’s the new black. (More on that later…)