From aunty, with love...

I found an awesome loop hole in the "Best Aunt" category. From now on, I will ask my sister and brother what their kids want after Christmas. This has great results for both parties: the kids get things that they didn't get but that they really wanted and I end up being the best aunt ever because I got them those items. It's win-win. It's brilliant. And on top of it, it's so overwhelming to open presents on the 25th, that to get another gift - and a gift you want, mind you - around New Year's is... well, it's like having Christmas twice

This past holiday, the stars didn't align. I tried my hardest to hunt down a sewing machine guard for my sister's machine. Her girls have been begging her to teach them how to sew except that her machine might take off the 6-year-old's fingers. Yeah, that would not be cool. Anyway, I was not able to find one for her machine, nor could I find a generic one. As far as my brother's kids, well, he never got back to me about what they wanted. So, I guess it's their loss. Kids, if you grow up and wonder why Aunty Tara didn't get you any Christmas presents the year of 2011, now you know. And now it's February. 

My sister had a sweet thought: her kids would be ecstatic if they received Valentine's in the mail from your's truly. What a great idea! The first thing that popped into my head was making origami hearts. But instead of paper, make them out of fabric. But I totally dropped that idea when I came across this origami money tutorial. 

And I thought how great would it be to get a small chunck of money in the mail in the shape of a heart?!? Um, I'd love to get that now, let alone if I was 6 or 9 years old!

So I commandeered some blank kitten cards that were lying around. I have no clue where they came from and they are so 90's ridiculous, on par with Ann Geddes baby portraits. Anyway, how else would I possibly use them except for nieces and nephews who still think a kitten stuffed into a typewriter is adorable? Another win-win!

 Then I added a simple message with different colored embroidery floss and cut a slit in the center:

 Then inserted the cash:

 And of course added a few hearts to the front to make them feel more Valentine's appropriate:

Voila! Valentine's out of kitten cards. Not meant to be a belated Christmas present, but a happy surprise on Valentine's Day!

Tile inspiration...

Okay, one more West Elm post. I saw these really cool wall hangings that I think are only store display props. They reminded me of Japanese sashiko which is an old embroidery technique using evenly spaced running stitches to create geometric patterns. Although it would be sweet to tile a bathroom floor or a foyer with something like this!

Stupid Sale...

I went to IKEA in August, and they always put their fabric from the previous season on super sale. I'm pretty sure this was part of last year's winter fabric. Something attracted me to it.

Then I did something I "never" do, I bought 6 yards of it. Yeah. That's a lot. I don't normally do that since I need to have a project in mind, or else it will never get used. But it was cheap, and it's a heavy weight cotton. Don't worry, it's getting used.

I'm making pillows - more on that soon. And maybe a quilt? I'll certainly have enough fabric for that...

Floss. Not the teeth kind...

Oh. Sigh. Most days are fleeting because I get to actually make something. And some days? They're spent organizing. That yarn book I made? I use it all the time. So I'm hoping that what I spent a solid amount of time doing today will pay off in the end.

I've been doing a bit of embroidering lately, something my mother taught me how to do when I was young - maybe 10-ish? I've been using this floss to do some basic embroidery for the notebook style holders, and pillows I've been making (more on those later), and sewing in my tags into scarves and what not.

Except this is how I've been storing my floss.

Yikes, right? It's been in that bag since I was 10 - double yikes. Today I wanted to start another pillow, but when I reached for my "bag o' fun", I couldn't figure out how to get a certain color thread out. [Explitve here.] It's essentially a big Rat King, as you can see above, and although I can untangle everything without cutting, I really needed to do something to reduce the amount of time that takes.

What's funny, is that I had two fixes that I implemented when I was 11 or so (it took me a year to realize that this rat king was going to happen with my new precious floss).

First was the tee solution. My dad is an avid golfer and I'm pretty sure I stole a bunch of his old tees:

Except that there was no where to attach the other end and they would ultimately unravel. The other solution was cardboard, except it was missing the crucial cut in the cardboard to hold the loose end. Yes, both are original solutions from 20 years ago. I was so close. Oy.

I was at Michael's today and found a handy little solution (I really didn't feel like making my own) for a couple of bucks. Winder + cards:

Don't you worry, I'll be making cardboard cards when I run out of those. It's a little ridiculous to be paying for some plastic thing that won't degrade, and cardboard is sturdy enough to reuse in the future. I was just in a rush to get things organized. (Boo, I know.)

Oh, just looking at that picture makes me feel so much better, no?