Monday, October 31, 2011

All Hallows Eve Pumpkin Tutorial

In honor of Halloween every year I carve a pumpkin.  As the years have progressed my pumpkins have gotten more elaborate.  This year I made the above owl.  I love owls and think they are a very majestic beings.

Unfortunately, I am not doing much for Halloween this year.  The party I was going to co-host was cancelled do to an illness in the family.  I had a costume and everything.  I had been saving pins on Pinterest for ages with ideas for hors d'oeuvres and treats.  Oh well, in the end how can I fight the big C and insist on a party?  I can't.  so instead I just have to stay home.

This pumpkin took me a good three hours to carve.  I picked a good night for it.  You see we had a freak snow storm here in NY.

My house under the blizzard.

The trees were amazing.

Some trees had not lost their leaves yet.
I made stuffed apples, learned how to knit, drank hot apple cider with brandy and finished off the night with some pumpkin carving.

Slow cooker stuffed apple.

Apples and twenty year old Portuguese brandy.

Here's how I did the carving.  

First I cleaned off the scooped out all the filling of my very large pumpkin.

The filling.
I cut a hole in the bottom of the pumpkin because it makes it look better in the day time.

Then I downloaded the stencil from Martha and enlarged it (I had to stick three pages together to get the whole thing on the pumpkin).

Here is the original Martha version
(she had a white pumpkin but I could not find any.)

To transfer the pattern onto my pumpkin I tapped the copy to the pumpkin and punched holes around the outline.

Then I removed the outline and carved away all the light grey leaving the dark grey as pumpkin skin in tack.

I used my linoleum carving tools to carve out only part of the pumpkin shell, that way the light would shine through.  In the end I also had to work to scrape out a lot of the pumpkin from the inside to let the light through.  I used a store bought pumpkin light instead of a candle to be more safe.

I like how it turned out in the end.

Happy Halloween Everyone!!!  Hope you are having fun for the holiday.  

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Thursday, October 20, 2011

Putting My Garden to Bed

I discovered in my first summer at my own house (last summer) that I'm not very good with weeds.  I don't like weeding and I don't do it very often.  Needless to say I'm not very good at keeping gardens all summer long.

I hope to change that all next summer when I plan to get all into gardening (I said that last fall but this time I mean it).

That is where bulbs come in.  I love bulbs because you plant them in the fall, they grow in the spring BEFORE the weeds have a chance to take hold.  So you have beautiful flowers and NO WEEDING!

OK I admit it ... I don't have much to show for my work except some flower beds with no flowers, but I will link up the bulbs when they blossom in the spring.

Here is one of the beds I had ready.
I made two new beds around my front porch, and planted bulbs in four beds total.  I planted daffodils, tulips, hyacinth and crocuses (not enough crocuses in my opinion but that is for a discussion with my husband).

Here are my two new beds:

Planting bulbs is pretty easy.  I dig up all the weeds (one not all summer long I will remind you).

Weeds are gone (I need to sweep my porch).
My yard has some weird stuff under all those weeds.  I don't know what the renters were doing but I have found a stuffed animal in the past and this time I found toys, empty cigarette packs, plastic bags, a spoon and a knife (were they eating in the garden?).

Next I distribute the bulbs.  I like to spread them around so I can mix the different kinds up.

Once the bulbs are mixed as I like them I then have to dig a little hole for each bulb.  The daffodils, tulips, and hyacinths get planted deeper than the crocuses.  It is pretty easy to tell because the crocuses are much smaller so they take less dirt to cover them.  It takes some time to plant each bulb but I just think of the flowers I will have in the spring.

Cover the flowers with dirt and then mulch.  You are done!

Now I have something to look forward to in the thaw.  Anyone else planting bulbs this fall?

Next I want to fix up the front porch, but that might have to wait.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Painted the Room Blue

I painted the roses red room blue.  (Sorry had to throw a Alice in Wonderland reference in there)

But I did paint my room blue, my living room that is.  When we moved in I knew what color I want the dining room to be, but I was never sure about the living room.  My old living room was just too much orange.  Don't get me wrong I love orange but I needed some balance. 

But then after seeing these picture I realized I wanted to paint the room blue.

See how the orange is balanced with the blue.  Well that is my new plan for my living room.

So after rearranging the furniture I knew that a new infusion of color would be great.

Now it needs some more blue in a couple of pillows and maybe a lamp.

I can't leave you without a full size picture of my nice new room.

Still to do:
1. Get blue pillows
2. Maybe a blue lamp.
3. Refinish behind book shelves with subtle wall paper.

I also changed one chair, the curtains, and (in case you missed the huge difference) I added a plant.

What do you think?

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Poinsettia Pillow

As you know I have been working on my crafts for the upcoming craft fair in November.  I figure because it is in November I should have some nods to Christmas.

This weekend I made two Poinsettia Pillows.  My inspiration came from this pillow at Pottery Barn.

I decided to use more festive colors (but that might change as I make more of them I have lots of ideas).

Using red and white I made two pillows.

I didn't have any bells for the center so I used some very sparkly beads.  I might use more, and I'm still experimenting with the leaf shapes but I like how they turned out.

The pillows are made in a simple envelope pillow case so that you can either recover pillows you have or buy new inserts.  That way I don't have to worry about the pillows themselves, they can be bought at JoAnn's. Making the pillow cease removable also makes them very easy to wash, which is always good.

There are a million tutorials online for how to make an envelope pillowcase, so I will just go through  it very simply.

To start measure your case fabric twice the length of the pillow plus seven inches (that leaves a one inch trim and a six inch overlap in the back) and the width of the pillow plus one inch (for the hem).  My pillow was sixteen inches square so I made the pillow case fabric 39 inches long and seventeen inches wide.  I then found the center sixteen inches (this will be the front of the pillow where you put the Poinsettia).

Do you see the two little blue lines demarcating the
center 16 inches?  No? well it is there. :P

You end up with one long piece of fabric with two little marks for the bottom and top of the center 16 inches.  does that make sense?  Basically you just want to know where to sew your flower.

Next I found the center of my sixteen inch (front) of the fabric.  This is where my tenth grade geometry comes in.  I just found the corners of the area and drew a line diagonally near the center.  Do this lightly with chalk so it rubs out.  I then did the same thing with the other side, and where the two lines intersect was the center (Amazing I remembered that right?  It is not like my husband is not a Math teacher or anything! hehe  I have been known to call him into the middle of my craft project to get some math help.  Shhh don't tell.)

It is hard to see but I have the sixteen inch center square marked off lightly.
Here I'm finding the center of the area where the flower will go.
Now you have to make the flower petals.  I cut mine out of paper first then traced them onto the felt.

I cut five petals of thee sizes (five big, five medium and five small).  For the second pillow I made my petals wider and the bottom (I think the white Poinsettia came out better, so you may want wider petals than shown here).

I cut out the petals and laid out my flower.

In order to sew the flowers onto the pillow case I had to sew them on one layer at a time.  I pinned the first layer of petals then sewed them with my sewing machine.

Don't worry about the centers of this layer not touching it will be covered up by subsequent petal layers.  TIP: I sewed all the petals from the center out to keep them flat, sometimes I had to pass a quite a bit of the pillowcase under the needle to get to the center but it turned out alright in the end.

I then repeated with the remaining layers of petals.  Take care to make sure your last layer of petals are close together in the center because they have to be covered by the beads.  (It is not like I learned this from experience or anything lol)

Here is my second layer of petals ready to sew.  
Now you can sew on your bells or beads or what ever you want to use.  I hand sewed them.

Now all you have to do is sew up the pillow and you are done.  Hem the short edges (with felt this is super easy as it does not fray, just be sure you turn the fabric to the inside away from the flower).  Next, turning the fabric so that the flower is inside and the two layers are overlapping by six inches (or a little more so the pillow is nice and snug).

Don't worry, it will not be gone for long.
Pin and sew up the edges leaving a half inch hem.  Turn your pillow right side out and you are done!

I can't wait to make one with white petals on a silk pillow case, that will be really nice.  Are you getting ready for Christmas yet, or am the only crazy woman with holiday cheer before Halloween? (Hey, in my defense, they had Christmas stuff up at Lowes today!)

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