Wednesday, March 4, 2015

:*:~Grand Opening~:*:

Oh, boy! The last couple of weeks have been a doozy! It started while driving home from a cheer competition in Atlanta through a huge (well, huge by southern standards) snow and ice storm. It took forever, and by the time we got home... our house was covered in over a foot of the white fluffy stuff. No big deal. I lived in Alaska for years, and the kids loved playing it it. For a day or two. But, that snow hung around. School was cancelled for nearly two weeks straight. We began our bathroom remodel. The contractor flooded our kitchen. Plumbers. Contractors. Contractors to fix what the other contractors ruined. Tears. Stress. More tears. No time to work on my Etsy store... or much of anything else for that matter.

Once things finally calmed down, I finished a few wreaths. But, here's the thing: living in dark cozy houses like I love... it doesn't make for good lighting when it comes to photographing your products. The outside walls of my husband's studio in our backyard, those are the best walls for photographing wreaths. But, those walls? Couldn't get to them because of that white fluffy stuff that just WOULD. NOT. GO. AWAY. Until a couple of days ago. Finally! I could photograph my wreaths!

So, without further ado... I am so excited to announce the grand opening of my Etsy store: Charmed Home Boutique!!!

Here's a little back story on my wreaths...

My handmade flower wreaths were actually born several years back when I was working on the design team for American Crafts. The original flowers were made of paper, and buttons. Paper not being the most pliable material to work with in this instance, the flowers evolved into fabric, then felt pieces. I added the glittered tulle, and rhinestones for extra sparkle. 

Over the years, I gave many of my wreaths away as gifts. Then, my daughter began competing in all-star cheerleading. Oh, the crazy life of a cheer mom! I found that these wreaths made the perfect gift for coaches, team moms, gym owners and cheerleaders alike. They're a fun way to display your team spirit year-round! And, that is how my Custom Spirit Wreaths were born. 

Perfect for not only the cheerleading set, they also make great gifts for all you football moms, volleyball moms, teachers, college student moms, and #1 fans! If you've got spirit, I've got a wreath for you! I also carry pre-made holiday wreaths, and some of my more popular designs of spirit wreaths. If you're looking for something a little smaller... I can also make mini versions of any of my 14" wreaths in a 10" size. And, coming soon... patriotic and military wreaths!

Because wreath-making isn't my only crafty endeavor... check back often for new holiday and team spirit decor items!

Here is some of what you'll find in the shop...

Pre-made wreaths in some of my more popular designs and color schemes. This one is called The Extreme... in the colors of one of the best cheer gyms in the world: Cheer Extreme Allstars. My daughter started her cheer journey at their gym, and I still have a soft spot for the teal, black, and white. 

In case you're a forward-thinker like me... there are a couple of holiday designs already available. 

The Sweetheart was intended for Valentine's Day. But, clearly the shop got off to a bit of a late start. It's still a lovely color scheme! And, it's one of the 10" mini wreaths. 

And of course, I can make any wreath that your heart desires. There are custom listings in my Etsy store, and I will work with you to create a wreath in your favorite colors. Directions for placing a custom order can be found in the details of the listings. But, here are the color options of felt, tulle, and rhinestones to choose from...

And, here are just a couple samples of what can be made...

Well, that's it for now!  But, as I type this... another wild winter storm is pulling into town. This time, I am prepared... with TONS of wreath-making supplies. So, stay tuned for more designs in the next few days! In the meantime, thank you for checking out my store, and supporting the handmade movement!

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Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Snow Day = Snow Cream

Well, we finally managed to finagle some snow out of the skies. And, boy... did it EVER snow!!! Almost a foot at our house. My oldest was so excited. She hasn't seen snow like this except for a handful of times while visiting my parents in Alaska. She was in heaven...

Our oldest boy was back inside with "stinging skin" before I could get even ready the camera. And, this little guy, well...

I think that's fairly self-explanatory. He really doesn't like getting wet. In ANY form or fashion. He did mellow out just a bit, and played....

Five minutes later... back inside the warm house. As beautiful as this foot of fluffy white stuff is... it's of the dry variety. Not too great for making snowmen. Or snowballs. And, a bit too deep for snow angels. But, one thing snow is ALWAYS good for... SNOW CREAM!!!

Truly simple, and there isn't a kid that doesn't love to help make (or eat) it! Generally, snow cream is just snow, milk, sugar, and vanilla extract. I wanted something a little different, though. One of my favorite treats during the holidays is peppermint ice cream. Throughout the rest of the year... the stuff is at best hard to find, but mostly completely unavailable. Now you can make your own! Well, providing that Mother Nature blesses you with some of the white stuff. Here's what you'll need...

Snow Cream

8 C Fresh Snow
1 C Whole Milk
1/3 C Sugar
1 tsp Peppermint Extract
Crushed Peppermints (I found a little jar of pre-crushed mints at the store back around Christmas, but you can always crush up that stash that were delivered with your restaurant checks that I know you have hiding somewhere)

Start off by adding your milk to a large mixing bowl. I like to use a metal bowl because it keeps everything so much chillier! Next, sprinkle in the sugar...

Then the peppermint extract...

Whisk to combine until sugar is dissolved...

Put bowl in the freezer while you go out to play in... er... gather the snow. Don't let your kid eat your stash on the way back inside...

Remove the bowl from the freezer, and add the snow to it. Gently fold in the snow until combined...

Serve it up! Scoop snow cream into dishes, and top with sprinkles, and crushed peppermints!

Enjoy! Quickly. This stuff melts much faster than the grocery store stuff! 

***After I made this, I considered that adding the crushed peppermints right into the snow cream while combining the snow & milk mixture would be a really neat idea! I will definitely be doing that next time. I would say about 1/4 - 1/2 C of crushed peppermints would do the trick! I'll definitely be giving that a go next time!***

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Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Nerdgasm: A collective of cross-stitch patterns for your inner nerd!

Well, yesterday's post got derailed by a string of doctor appointments, and one of my littles that decided to flush paper towels down the toilet resulting in a small pond in our downstairs. Lovely, right? Just how I wanted to kick off the week. Let's hope it can only get better from here! *knocks on wood*

But, as promised... I'm back with February's 12 months of Christmas project!

Any guesses as to what this might be?

Sometimes, I can whip through a cross-stitching project. Sometimes, not. So, the beginning of the year is a great time to get started stitching! This time, we're tapping into your inner nerd. We all have something we nerd out about, don't we? For some, it's Harry Potter. For others, like my husband, it's Star Wars. And, we all have that quirky person on our shopping list that is next to impossible to shop for. The perfect solution? A handmade gift honoring their crazy little obsession.

On my list, I have 1 super-hero fanatic, 2 Harry Potter nuts, 1 Star Wars freak, and 1 Lord of the Rings junkie. (There's a 12 Days of Christmas *Nerd Edition* in there somewhere.) Hahaha. And, trust me... there are cross-stitching patterns for ALL of them. I'm going to round up a few of my favorite sources here, and I hope that you'll stitch along with me!

If any of you guessed Harry Potter for the theme of my sample up above... you were right! I'll be working with this pattern from Cloudsfactory...

Cloudsfactory is probably my favorite for nerdist stitchery. They have some super-cute Doctor Who patterns to include this clock project. I never would have thought of turning one of my projects into a clock, but Doctor Who is a home-run for that idea. There are also Star Wars alphabets, dozens of Disney patterns, this Star Trek pillow, and even an obscure A Clockwork Orange pattern. Basically... anything your nerdy little heart desires, I can almost guarantee that Cloudsfactory has a pattern for it! I also couldn't resist purchasing this super-hero alphabet for the aspiring little Hulk on my list...

80's & 90's sitcoms more of your nerd-out thing? Tiny Modernist has some cute Golden Girls and Designing Women patterns. I love Tiny Modernist. She isn't just all nerdy patterns... you should really check out all the adorable patterns at her shop! 

Pixels In Stitches is a shop I just recently stumbled across while searching for a The Big Bang Theory pattern...

She also had a pattern of my favorite nerdy obsession: The Walking Dead. She also has a great selection of 80's and 90's cult classic movie samplers: Heathers, The Breakfast Club, and Empire Records to name a few. 

Didn't see anything here that caught your eye? Head on over to Etsy, and search out your nerdy treasure. You'd be surprised... they have cross-stitch patterns for almost ANYTHING nowadays!

As for me, I had better get back to stitching. I really wanted to finish this Harry Potter project by the end of the month. Although, I think that aspiration is a bit lofty. If you want to follow along, or participate in this nerdy cross-stitching adventure, use #nerdystitcher on Instagram (I'm charmedgirl). Can't wait to see you there!

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Friday, February 6, 2015

Oh, my deer!

Well, this project took a little longer than expected. Between letting the Mod Podge and the glitter dry, and me nit-picking over every last detail... here we are two weeks later. Sometimes, I really prefer working under deadlines. It's one of the reasons I really miss being on design teams. Having a deadline forces me to make quick decisions, and move things along. When I'm just left to my own devices, my brain works a little something like this: Gold glitter. No, platinum glitter. Or, maybe antique gold glitter. No, gold. Or maybe BLUE. Yeah. That can go on for an hour. No joke. But, internal glitter arguments aside... here she is!

She didn't turn out exactly the way I had envisioned it in my head. It never really does, does it? But, I'm happy with her. I got the deer head when I visited my mom back in the fall. Michael's carries them. Or, at least the did. They're just made of the brown papier mache, and were with all of the boxes, bird houses, and project bases of that nature. We don't have a Michael's near us. The nearest one is in Nashville, an hour and a half away. And, it's not a good one. Hobby Lobby doesn't carry them, and I've scoured the internet to no avail. So, if anyone knows where to get more of these... hit me up! It's a really fun project. Let's get started!

Here is what you'll need...

Papier Mache Deer Head
1 Fat Quarter Worth of Fabric
Tape Measurer
Disappearing Fabric Ink Pen
Pinking Shears
Micro Scissors
Fabric Mod Podge
Foam Brush
Martha Stewart Crafts Glitter Glue
Ultra Fine Glitter (I used Martha Stewart Crafts Fine Glitter in Florentine Gold)
Stiff Bristle Brush (Like A Stencil Brush)
False Eyelashes
Double-Sided Tape Sheet
1" Circle Punch
Black Diamond Stickles
1" Round Rhinestone
Hot Glue Gun

Step 1: Measure from the widest and tallest points of the deer head to figure our how much fabric you will need. I used a seamstress tape measurer so that I could form it to the shape of the head while measuring to assure there would be enough fabric. Mine measured 16" x 16".

Step 2: Iron your fabric so it's nice, and smooth.

Step 3: Measure, and mark off where to cut your fabric using your disappearing ink pen.

Step 4: Use pinking shears to cut out your fabric.

Step 5: Using a foam brush, apply a generous coating of Mod Podge to the area of your deer head that you want to start working. I began at the bottom of the nose.

Step 6: Adhere the fabric to the Mod Podge on the nose. Add more Mod Podge, and start working up the face. Stop around the bottom of where the ears begin.

Step 7: Apply Mod Podge to the sides of the face. Again, stop right around the bottom of the ear. Adhere the fabric.

Step 8: Once adhered to the sides of the face, use your pinking shears to make a diagonal cut from the edge of the fabric to the base of the ear. Repeat on other side. This allows your fabric a little give, and makes it easier to work the fabric to fit the form.

Step 9: Fold fabric into the back of the deer, and trim the excess fabric off. Leave about 1" worth of fabric to adhere into the back of the head.

Step 10: Apply Mod Podge to the back inside edge of the head. Fold fabric over, and adhere.

Step 11: Moving back to the front of the head... Make a neat little pleat in the fabric just underneath the ear. Secure with a little Mod Podge. This will neatly secure the extra fabric you will have in that area.

Step 12: Apply a generous layer of Mod Podge to the top of the ear.

Step 13: Adhere the fabric. Use your fingers to work the fabric into all of the nooks, and crannies until it is perfectly molded to the ear. I started referring to this as "fabric sculpting" because you really are working with it like you would clay... pinching, pulling, pushing until you get it formed into just the right shape! 

**Tip: Make sure your hands are extra clean! Some Mod Podge will seep through the fabric when you are working with it like this. And, that's okay! It dries clear, and we will be applying a sealing coat on top later on. But, if your hands are dirty, it will make the glue dirty. And, especially on this white fabric... you WILL notice. I washed my hands several times during the process of working with the ears. Anytime I felt there was a build-up of glue on my fingers, I would make a trip back to the sink.**

Step 14: Once you are satisfied with the front of the ears, turn the head over. Trim around the edge of the ears using micro scissors. I left about a 1/2" lip that will adhere over the edges of the ears.

Step 15: Use your fingers (the foam brush is too big to work in this area) to apply Mod Podge to the edge of the ears. Adhere the fabric.

Step 16: Use the micro scissors to trim the fabric around the base of the antlers. DOn't worry if it isn't exactly perfect, or frays a bit. We will be covering it up with glitter later. 

Step 17: Trim, and fold the remaining fabric until it fits neatly between the antlers with a 1" lip to tunk under, and secure inside the back of the head. Apply Mod Podge, and adhere fabric.

Step 18: Admire your work so far! Your deer head should look something like this. Set it aside, and let dry for 24 hours.

Step 19: Apply your sealing coat of Mod Podge. Let dry for at least 24 hours. I found mine to still be a bit tacky after than, and let it dry for a total of 48 hours. When dry, it should have a texture similar to oil cloth. You don't want it to be tacky AT ALL because next we will be applying glitter to the antlers, and you don't want that getting stuck in Mod Podge all over the face.

Step 20: Get ready to apply the glitter to the antlers. Martha Stewart glitter glue is my favorite to use for projects that require large areas of glitter application. It comes with a brush already inside the lid. Michael's carries it. But, you can also get it here.

Step 21: Apply glue to the top area of the antlers. You can work in patches, so that the glue doesn't dry out. 

Step 22: Sprinkle glitter over glue-covered area. Repeat until antlers are completely covered in glitter. Allow to dry for 24 hours.

Step 23: Once dry, use a really stiff bristle brush (I like to use a stenciling brush) to brush off any stray bits of glitter on the face of the deer.

Step 24: Now we can start constructing the face of the deer. I selected these pretty tinsel eyelashes. Originally, I had ordered silver. They sent me red. It was too much hassle to return them, so I just hung onto the red ones. I'm glad I did! They worked better than I believe the silver would have. Trim about 1/4" off of each eye so it will fit to the form.

Step 25: Use a tiny dot of hot glue at the corners of the lashes to adhere them to the head. This is one of my nit-picky things that took me FOREVER to get them exactly where I wanted them. So, be patient.

Step 26: Use your 1" circle punch to punch out 2 circles from the tape sheets. Or, if you're like me, and the movers lost your box of punches... use a 1" circle stencil to draw them, and cut them by hand. I have hoarded my Art Accentz Terrifically Tacky Tape sheets for years. They don't make them anymore. But, I imagine these tape sheets from Ranger would work just as well.

Step 27: Peel off one side of the backing. Sprinkle glitter over the exposed sticky tape, and use your fingers to make sure it is generously well-adhered. Repeat for both circles.

Step 28: Peel off the other side of the tape, and adhere under the eyelashes on the deer head.

Step 29: Select some brads that you like. These are black pearl brads that are rimmed in silver. I've really been trying to de-stash so these are old. They're from the My Mind's Eye "Lush" collection. They're discontinued, but there are plenty of other companies that put out brads similar to these. Or, hey... dig through your stash! Take your micro scissors or a pair of wire snips, and cut off the prongs on the back of 2 brads so that the back is now flat. 

Step 30: Use a dot of hot glue to adhere the brad to the glittered "eyeball." Repeat on second eye.

Step 31: The eyes didn't have quite the doe-eyed affect that I was looking for. So, I rimmed them with some black Stickles.

Step 32: Use a dot of hot glue to adhere the rhinestone nose.

Step 33: Tie a bow with some pretty ribbon. Use a dot of hot glue to adhere it to the top of the head.

Step 34: Stand back, and admire your craftiness!

This project allows for so many personal tweaks: fabric selection, glitter colors, etc. I even considered using some ribbon to hang some Christmas balls from her antlers, but decided against it. But, you can really get creative with these deer heads!

While my design is decidedly Christmasy, yours certain doesn't have to be. But while we're on the subject... a few years ago I did a fun project that ran all year long on the blog: "12 Months of Christmas." So, why don't we give it a go again in 2015?

I know a lot of us crafters are big into giving handmade gifts during the holidays. And, if you're anything like me, you'll come up on November faster than you can bat a red tinsel eyelash. Inevitably, you'll have a long list of gifts you want to make with not enough hours until Santa comes a knockin' to make them. The idea here is to knock out a gift a month throughout the year. It makes the holiday time SO. MUCH. EASIER. And, who doesn't need their holidays simplified in one way or another? So, my sweet little deer will be January's installment for the 12 months of Christmas (although it's a few days past January... darn those days spent waiting on that Mod Podge to dry)! Hahaha!

If you make a deer head... or even if this project inspires you to try another papier mache project... post them up in the comments! I'd love to see them. I'll be back on Monday with February's project for the 12 months of Christmas. See... I didn't let those hours of waiting on glue to dry go to waste... I just started on the next project!

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