Category Archives: fun

Snow Dog

It’s been too long between blog posts thanks to a full workload. We’ve also had three “snow events” in the past week, which meant more time spent outside shoveling. Around here, snow also means Doggie Lily will demand some snowy doggie walks.

While I have a project in the works, it’s not quite ready to post. In the meantime, here’s Lily in her element…

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She may be 13, but the second Lily hits the cold air she becomes Crazy Snow Dog. She’s so frisky it took 8-10 attempts before one of her photos was in focus.

Do you enjoy winter as much as Lily? Or do you prefer heat, sand and sun?

Pumpkin Obsession: Extreme Edition

In honor of the season, I thought it would be nice to revisit a popular post from the past:

 

My brother gets a little crazy every autumn. Brice is always buying pumpkins in October, and he carves them all, or as many as time allows. Gourds aren’t even safe from him at this time of year.

As of Monday he said the current count was 26. That was nine pumpkin-shopping days before Halloween, so he may have even more by now. (I think he’s regretting not following through on his idea of planting a pumpkin patch this summer.)

It all started way back when little Bricie won a ribbon in a pumpkin carving contest. Not that lots of actual carving was involved – his creativity caught the judges’ attention.

Every Halloween season, Brice & I wind up talking about pumpkins. When I carve jack-o-lanterns, I only do one or two. I carve slowly, but add special touches like freckles (by plunging a metal skewer through the shell) or scars (by scraping skin and a little flesh off the pumpkin). Brice? He uses power tools.

Use extreme care when using power tools – especially on round objects.

Brice’s carving isn’t completed yet for this Halloween, so let’s take a tour of their yard from a Halloween past. (The great photos are by my sister-in-law, Jeanne.)

Hmm, doesn’t that white jack-o-lantern way back there appear to be eating something? Let’s take a closer look….

This last one looks a bit Seussian, don’t you think?

All right. It’s time to admit my role in my brother’s autumnal obsession. A couple years ago I gave him two Extreme Pumpkin Carving books by Tom Nardone.

Hey, Bri, it seems Nardone has an annual pumpkin carving contest. Enter it, and maybe you’ll repeat your childhood success with another win!

What are some of your favorite Halloween traditions? How many pumpkins do you plan to carve this year?

It’s American Craft Week!

Just a quick post to say Happy American Craft Week, everyone!

Maybe you’re participating in our Pink Sock Monkey Craft-along for Breast Cancer Awareness Month, or perhaps you’ve got a woodworking project going or you’re busy making spooky Halloween decorations.

If you’re not making something yourself, you can celebrate American Craft Week by purchasing something made by a local craftsman. What a great way to inspire people to keep producing their handmade wares!

What fun (or challenging) things are you working on this week?

Sock Monkey Invasion!

On a really hot day last month my sister-in-law, niece, nephew and I went to Midway Village Museum. One of the first things my niece noticed was a banner for the museum’s annual Sock Monkey Madness. She said, “I love sock monkeys!” Inside, the gift shop was filled with all sizes and colors of sock monkeys imaginable. Even my nephew wanted one. Unwilling to strike a deal with their mom to earn the bigger sock monkeys by doing extra chores – helping weed their garden, for instance – they had to settle for the smallest monkeys. That’s when I knew I’d be making sock monkeys for their birthdays!

(Yep. That’s what I had Old Reliable out for a couple weeks ago.)

It all started with two pair of original Rockford Red Heel socks. One pair per primate. The Sock Monkey directions are inside the label.

The scary bit for any knitter is cutting the socks, but the trick is sewing the simple seams before cutting. Then the live stitches don’t unravel.

One monkey body with legs stitched and cut, the other stitched and ready to be cut.

The second sock of each pair is then stitched and cut to make the tail, arms, mouth and ears. The ears were the trickiest for me since I didn’t have an actual monkey on hand to gauge the size and curve of the ears.

I used good old fiber fill to stuff the monkeys, but added little red felt hearts in each torso – because the monkeys were made, and given, with love.

The secret ingredient is always love!

Perhaps the trickiest bit was attaching the arms, tail, mouth and ears. Mostly because you need to fold the live edges under and stitch the pieces on at the same time, but also because the directions don’t say exactly where to position the bits. Were the ears to high? Too low? Does the tail go on the brown part of the sock? The white? (Surely not the red.)

By the end of day one I had two faceless monkeys with gigantic ears. One friend who saw them at this stage quipped, “I didn’t know you were making the sock elephants.” (To be fair, I hadn’t shaped the ears by stitching in half circles yet.)

The next day I cut eyes from black felt and adhered them with fabric glue. When I stitched in the ear circles, I did a little sock monkey plastic surgery by repeatedly pulling the thread crosswise through the stuffing of the ears and tugging them closer to the body.

Right ear done, left ear yet to go.

My favorite part was adding a bit of personality with a few quick embroidery stitches. I started behind the ear, stitched the lips, dimples, nostrils, and then ran the floss through the stuffing and back out behind the opposite ear. The sock monkey plastic surgeon strikes again!

One down, one to go!

When my niece and nephew were trying to convince their mom to buy sock monkeys for them, I suggested making them. My niece shrugged off the idea, her brother didn’t seem to hear it. So I decided to fake them out. When it was time to open presents, I had them open theirs at the same time. They each had a smaller gift on top to open first: Red Heel socks. I said, “You know what those are for, right?” My nephew was first to answer, “To make sock monkeys!”

Then they finally got to open their real gifts. Both kids kept their monkeys close at hand the rest of the day, one being hugged, the other being tossed in the air. Just so they won’t fight about which monkey is which, I pointed out the subtle differences – one has a small notch on one ear, one has a leg where the sock rows didn’t align (not me – it was the actual sock).

Now the hard part: they need to name their new sock monkeys!

Do you have, or have you ever made a sock monkey? If so, what do you like most about it?

An extra bit of polish

Everyone who knows me knows I’ve had a life-long fascination with wild and crazy nail polish. Before wild polish colors were the norm, I’d seek out bizarre colors. In second grade, another girl and I had an unofficial contest to see who could find the weirdest nail polish. One day I came in wearing dark blue glittery polish only to find her wearing a frosty mint green.

In high school and college every so often I’d pull out every color in the polish box and paint a different design or pattern on each nail – using toothpicks, not an airbrush. Amazing what things someone can find to do when trying to avoid homework.

These days, I don’t always have time to get too crazy with my nails, but after a celebrity (Mindy Kaling, if you’re curious) tweeted a photo of her sparkly fun nails I realized I already had all of the polish, even if not in the exact same exact colors. Before I tried it, a friend borrowed some polish to do her nails and said the combo wore really well. So when I did my nails last week, I gave it a shot – four days later (which included a flea market, cleaning, yard work and lots of typing) I only see one chip.

It’s a bit blurry, but you try taking a photo of your own fingers – chances are one or both hands will wiggle a bit. My nails looks kind of stubby at this angle, but it took about 20 tries to get a halfway clear shot so this will have to do.

If anyone’s curious, this is what I did: On top of a good base coat I applied 2 coats of “For Audrey” by China Glaze. After that was dry, I used Orly’s “Dazzle” on the tips – I actually went nearly halfway down each nail, but love the accidentally rakish angle on the center finger above (next time I’ll do that intentionally). After that dried, I brushed on My Generation’s “Silver Fever” which is clear polish with random size bits of glitter (it’s so old I had to add more clear to the bottle to get the glitter flowing again) and followed that up with a clear top coat.

The great thing about adding the glitter is it blurs the line between the colors, so you don’t have to worry about a straight line or arc like you would with a fussy French tip. (I’m not a fan of French tips, which make even real fingernails look fake and make toenails look severely overgrown.)

I wish the photo were clearer – this polish combo is really fun for summer. It’s so much fun that I did something I seldom do and painted my toenails to match, but limited the silver “Dazzle” to a sun-catching dot on the smaller toenails.

Yeah, this photo is even blurrier than the one above, but with my crooked toes, bug bites and irritated skin, you really don’t want to see a crisp clear shot of my feet.

I know I’m not the only person who enjoys nail art. At least one reader has sported images on her toenails, another likes crazy colors as much as I do, and a couple of you have been known to get creative with nail polish at family gatherings.  What are some fun and funky things you’ve done with your nails lately?

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