Tag Archives: cufflinks

This year’s homemade Christmas gifts

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aprons

We did some early Christmas unwrapping today, allowing the kids to paw through the little items that were from their parents, as opposed to the more mysterious gifts that will come from St. Nick tomorrow. I made the kids these canvas art smocks/aprons to wear during their own crafty pursuits. Dorothy had a tiny little painting smock when she was a toddler but it long ago lost its straps and fell by the wayside. My method of keeping the kids clean during art projects has been to send them upstairs to change into old t-shirts when I think about it, but that’s rather inconvenient when one has been hit by inspiration. These sturdy canvas smocks should allow them to act on their inspirations without the burden of climbing two flights of stairs and locating an acceptable shirt. I used fabric paint and freezer paper stencils to paint their initials onto each apron.

painters-at-workOf course unwrapping the smocks caused inspiration to hit immediately, so we had to pull out paints and brushes and canvas boards to try them out.

cufflinksI made these “favorite newspaper” cufflinks for Rob. He likes novelty cufflinks to lighten up his stuffy lawyer garb and we’ve had fun in the past gluing Legos and bottle caps onto cufflink hardware. This year I used a 1-inch round craft punch and epoxy dots to make cufflinks from his own used newspapers. I punched clear plastic (like from the packaging of new toys) for the backing.

cold-process-soapAnd this is a brand new batch of cold-process (lye) soap. I make unscented “man” soap for my brother whenever he starts to run low. He likes a soap without weird chemicals or fragrances and I like the opportunity to make something handmade for a brother who doesn’t need much. This soap will come out of my extremely expensive and fancy (ha!) dishpan mold later today and I’ll cut it into slabs before I give it to him tomorrow. It will still need to cure for 4-6 weeks, but if I give it to him straight from the mold then he will be able to cut it into just the right size bars himself.

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Bottle cap cufflinks and a lesson in elastic

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Rob had a birthday this past week. He collects cufflinks and has many interesting novelty pairs, including a couple I have made from Scrabble tiles and Legos. This year I was thinking it would be fun to have a pair made from the bottle caps of an iconic beer–maybe PBR or something. Dorothy and I keep a stash of bottle caps for crafting so I checked them to find a fun matching pair but all I found were caps from yuppie imports, nothing with the “real man” cache as Pabst Blue Ribbon. I did find some Coca Cola caps, however, from a case of Mexican Coke (made with actual sugar!) we’d bought on a whim last year and enjoyed by drinking with ice cream (him) and bourbon (me), and decided these would work. I glued three stacked pennies inside each cap to make a platform for the cufflink hardware, then glued it on and that was that. Making cufflinks is really a three-step process: 1) find what you want to use, 2) acquire cufflink hardware, and 3) glue them together. Done!

Here is my crew getting ready to sing the birthday song to Dad. Dorothy made the paper chain decoration like last year, and I made Rob’s requested angel food cake with strawberry icing and also devil’s food cupcakes for the chocolate-loving sinners like me. Worth has just recently graduated from his high chair and is proud to be seated in an elevated chair at the table with his sister.

Dorothy decided to sew yesterday. I gave her some scrap fabric and she announced she wanted to make a pair of mittens for her brother, a simple thumb-less pair just like some he’s already got. I don’t like to get in the way of her crafty experimentation, so I allowed her to cut mitt-shaped fabric much too small. She impressed me by turning the fabric right-side-in before stitching around the perimeter of the mitt, but once she turned it right-side-out she realized the sizing problem. Undaunted, she stitched up the other mitt and presented them to him, saying, “Buddy! I made you finger-warmers!” And he wore them around the house proudly. After a few minutes, though, she got to thinking maybe she wanted to try again. This time she asked for my help and suggested that her previous design might also be improved with some elastic. I unearthed some scrap fleece which I thought might make better mittens than the cotton, rounded up the requested elastic, and together we cut out much larger mitt shapes. She stitched around the edges and I helped her make a casing for some elastic at the wrist. Our joint venture just about fell apart at this point because she could not get the hang of pushing the elastic (with attached safety pin) through the casing. She shoved it over to me and just wanted me to do it for her, but I knew she’d enjoy this project more if she could really call it her own. I got an idea to sew a casing into the side of a plastic bag, so she could practice threading the elastic through it and actually see the progress she was making through the clear sides. This worked perfectly.

Dorothy figured out how to push the elastic through very quickly and then did it several more times.

She was rightfully proud of the mittens she made her brother, modeled by her because he refused to have his photo taken in them. He’s fond of them too, since she made them, and I’m hopeful he might even keep them on outside.

I’ve been growing herbs in my basement, of all places, courtesy of an AeroGarden I purchased used last year. I’d gotten it around the time we moved but never had the chance to set it up until this fall when the cold weather chased my outdoor gardening efforts inside. The setup really works beautifully and looks so lively and cheerful downstairs in our basement classroom. The basil has been so prolific I’ve had to take snips upstairs to put in water in my windowsill until I can use it. It feels a little decadent to be snipping fresh herbs in January. (Please ignore the splattered window in the background. I never claimed to be a great housekeeper.)

I just realized that this blog’s second anniversary has now come and gone. Two years! That doesn’t seem right, but as I’m browsing back through my early posts it seems even longer than that, making tiny things for the “big” boy who now sits at the table, and then admiring his wee ways. Dorothy’s grown so much in this time too. I’m glad to have this record to reflect on; thanks for joining me!