Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Anniversary Card

Sometimes I can't help myself.  I'll feel a compulsion to make something besides trouble. 

This card was for my daughter and son-in-law on their second anniversary.  I really wanted to make a card with a moveable wheel--you know, the kind you buy for a child that allows you to change the wheel to reflect the correct age.  I figured if I stamped "Happy Anniversary" and added a wheel with "2nd, 3rd, 4th", etc., I wouldn't need to make another card for several years.  (And that's how long it seems to take me to think up an idea when I need to design a card.)

But I have a short attention span, so this is what I ended up with.  I used a Tim Holtz/Sizzix die (Ornamentals, I think) for the shape, and added the lock and key from the Tim Holtz/Sizzix Movers and Shapers line, which I heat-embossed to give the appearance of metal.  I used a lot of kraft paper to keep it from looking too girly (after all, it really was for both of them).

Thanks for looking!

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Cause for Celebration

According to the calendar, it was my granddaughter's 13th birthday.  I'm beginning to believe it was actually my special day.

We sang a pretty regrettable rendition of "Happy Birthday", ate cake and opened presents (mainly consisting of what every teen wants--hard, cold cash). The child realized she now had enough money to buy what she had always dreamed of (or if not always, at least for the past few months): an IPod Touch.  Grandpa said he'd take everyone with him to make the purchase, and I could stay home and have time to myself.

I had spent the afternoon doing last-minute birthday shopping, baking cakes, whipping up frosting, and decorating for the celebration.  I was also smack in the middle of a mountain of laundry, a sink full of dirty dishes, and making hundreds of trips up and down stairs in the ill-timed process of moving the entire contents of one room to another.  I wasn't exactly relaxing, but with the house to myself  I could now complete my chores without constantly being interrupted and pulled in fifty different directions.

I'll take what I can get.  Happy birthday to me!

Sunday, August 28, 2011

It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year

Hallelujah!  The kids are back in school.  Just the way God intended.

Try not to judge me too harshly for my uncontained excitement.  These are my grandkids.   My youngest child is 27.  I should be resting on a beach somewhere, not raising children for the 33rd consecutive year.  I'm tired.  I'm cranky.  I'm menopausal.

The past few months have claimed the last scraps of my sanity.  Yes, some stay-at-home moms/grandmoms look forward to summer.  I'm not one of them.  I do enjoy not having to struggle to get the kids out of bed at a reasonable hour.  And not fighting about homework is nice.  But having absolutely no time to myself makes me long for the first day of school.  Sure, I love these children.  Can't I love them from afar?  At least for a few hours a day?

This year has been especially difficult.  For various reasons we weren't able to take a vacation.  I really needed a vacation.  It's been the summer from hell.  I just wanted a chance to breath.

Chatty Cathy, age nine, has been following me around since June, unable to stop talking. Somewhere in a medical journal there must be a name for this disorder.  All I know is:  I can't take it any longer.  I love her dearly.  But if I were to go deaf tomorrow, it wouldn't be soon enough.

Lovesick Lucy, age 13, cycles from not speaking to me at all, yelling at me about some perceived injustice, or talking my ears off about the latest object of her affection.  I love her with all my heart.  But there's only room for one hormonal crazy woman in this house.  And I was here first.

I can't find it in the book of Genesis in my Bible, but I'm pretty sure somewhere in those first six days, God created school.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Game Time

I desperately needed to get out of the house.  A little peace and quiet was all I really wanted.

I told my husband I was going to Big Lots.  He just happened to need something from a nearby store.  I hated making another stop, but I figured it was only fair since I was spending his money.  And leaving the kids with him.  And what he needed was a part from the hardware store to fix a faucet.  Even I'm not selfish enough to say no under those circumstances.

When I went to say goodbye (after all, I wasn't sure I was even coming back), the 13-year-old was in his home office badgering him about taking her school shopping.  The kids don't even bother asking me anymore.  I would rather walk across fire with a knife in my back than take the kids to a store with me, and they know it.

Still feeling a little guilty that I was leaving him alone with the kids and a plumbing problem, I thought maybe I would take her off his hands and possibly even stop at Staples to buy the binder she had to have right now.

I knew before I walked into the first store that I had made a colossal mistake, considering the weak grip I had on the remaining scraps of my sanity.  She was bouncing around like a kid in a candy store.  It was Tractor Supply, for crying out loud.  This was going to be a rough night.

Big Lots wasn't any better.  I bought the couple of things I needed and decided there couldn't be anything in the store exciting enough to risk having a breakdown then and there.  There are enough stores I'm too ashamed to step foot in again.  I really like Big Lots.

Staples was where it all fell apart.  While she was trying to choose the binder she wanted (inevitably the most expensive one), I went to find a few things I wanted that were on sale.  She kept tracking me down.  "Nana, you keep getting away from me!"  Yes, dear, I keep trying.  As I tried to steer her back to the binders, she kept finding things she wanted.  Things we probably already have at home.  Things we don't need. But she kept at it.  Finally, tired of being the only grandma in the store yelling at her grandchild, I relented and agreed to one of the items she so desperately needed.  Rookie mistake.  And I'm no rookie.  The game was on.

"Nana!  Please get me this pack of erasers!  The colors are so pretty!  I promise I'll share with my sister!"  (She won't.)

"Oh, Nana, look! I really need this!"  (She didn't.)

"Can I get this, please?  It will really come in handy!"  (It wouldn't.)

I came home physically and emotionally exhausted... and financially broke.  And swearing I'll never take the kids shopping again.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

From Cricut Tool Kit Case to Kindle Cover

(Try saying that fast three times.)

My granddaughter informed me just minutes before her 9th birthday that she wanted a case for her Kindle.  I was actually pretty excited because I was way ahead of her.  Well, ahead in the sense that I knew she needed something to protect the Kindle that I kept finding in the most unsafe places around the house.  I had been looking online, first to see how much the cases cost, and later, to see how in the heck I could make one to avoid paying the exorbitant amount they were charging for these things.

On Youtube, I found some covers people had made from old books, with the book reader nestled into hollowed-out pages.  Nah, not really what I wanted.  I started closely examining the ready-made covers.  I think I could make that.  But wouldn't it be so much easier if I could skip a step!  A few of those cases reminded me of something I'd seen before...

Yes, that was it!  I had been holding on to this case from my Cricut tool kit, "collector" that I am.  How could I throw away a perfectly useful thing like this, even if I had no use for it at the time?  Who's laughing now?  I located the Kindle and crossed my fingers that it would fit inside.  Just like Cinderella and the glass slipper, it was the perfect fit!  For once, my refusal to throw anything away paid off.

Now to figure out the details.  Would it be difficult to remove the foam inserts?

Well, yes and no.  The first piece came out perfectly, leaving a nice foam pad on which to rest the Kindle.  Could it really be this easy?

Of course not.  The second side started ripping as soon as I tried to pry the shaped foam tool holder from the backing.  Oh well, I'm still a step ahead of starting from scratch. 

I then measured the inside to see what size to cut the fabric to make padding for the "naked" side (even though my measurements are shown on the padded side--they're the same size and it photographed better).
Inside Measurements

I cut my fabric the width of the case plus a little extra for seams.
fabric width

I cut my fabric length roughly three times the length of the case to allow for seams and a small pocket.
fabric length

I folded it in half lengthwise, stitched across the width leaving a couple of inches open in the middle for turning right-side-out later. (Sorry, I forgot to photograph this step.)  I then adjusted the fabric so that the seam was about halfway down the fabric length, then stitched both side seams closed (this would allow the seam to be hidden on the backside).  I turned the piece right-side-out through the opening in the seam and pressed smooth.  I didn't bother stitching the opening shut since the case isn't washable and the seam is hidden.

I flipped the piece over so the seam was on the back.  I then folded the bottom up to make a pocket, leaving the finished piece the same length as my earlier measurements.  I pressed the pocket in place.
measuring for final size

I cut a length of ribbon to trim the pocket edge.

I then opened the piece to sew the ribbon in place (shown from the back side).

I then folded the pocket back into place (note the ruler showing the lengthwise measurement of the case).

I turned the ribbon ends under the fabric piece and stitched along both sides to hold the pocket in place.  I used a combination of fabric glue and hot glue to hold the fabric piece to the inside front of the cover.

I then cut two pieces of ribbon to make the lower corners that hold the Kindle in place.  These were cut long enough to double (for added strength) and with enough extra length to hand stitch to the sides and bottom of each lower corner.  Just an FYI:  this step wasn't easy.

I then cut a length of ribbon long enough to go across the top from side to side with a little extra to turn under.  I added a short piece of elastic on each end to allow enough flexibility to slip the Kindle underneath.  (This was originally going to be two corner pieces, but after the trouble I had with the first two, I didn't want to attempt that again.  She's only nine years old; maybe she won't be too critical of my shortcuts.)

Top piece, ready to be sewn in place.  I tried to position it so that it wouldn't interfere with reading.

See how nicely the Kindle fits inside?  How lucky can one woman get???

I used these two items to glue the inside padding/pocket piece.  You could use any fabric glue; this just happened to be what I had available at 1 a.m.

I then ironed some Heat 'n Bond to a piece of the same fabric I used for the inside.  I wanted to cut a flower to cover the Cricut logo on the front with something more appropriate for a young girl.  Don't hate on me all you Cricut lovers!--I still used my Cricut to cut the flower.

I used Design Studio to hide the inner cut lines from a flower shape I found on the Plantin Schoolbook cartridge.  After cutting it on my Cricut (my first attempt at cutting fabric and it worked great!), I used my sewing machine to zigzag the edges.  (Not the neatest job in the world, but acceptable for a rush job at 1:30 a.m.  We'll call it "shabby chic".)

I didn't actually iron the flower to the front cover because I wasn't sure how heat-resistant the case was, but I glued it down with fabric glue.  I attached a jewel to a green button for the flower center (looks like an olive, and at this point I really could have used a martini, or something with a shot of booze).  I cut a piece of ribbon long enough to loop into a leaf-type shape, and glued it down where the pieces met in the middle.  I then cut a length of ribbon for the stem and glued it under the bottom of the flower and over the middle of the leaves down to the bottom of the case (not shown; sorry, but it was nearly 2 a.m. and just hours before the birthday party).

As a final touch, I attached a small piece of ribbon to the zipper pull. 
Here's the finished interior, ready to protect the Kindle from everything except a careless 9 year old.

And here's the finished front cover.  Sure, I could have made it even fancier, but if you know me at all, you know I don't get much fancier than this.  Besides, it's for a young girl who will either lose it or get tired of it soon.  This way, I won't get nearly as annoyed when I find it in the trash.

Thanks for looking!  Hope this inspires you to repurpose something from your hoard!