Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Knock-Offs

I've seen (and drooled over) a LOT of other brave bloggers out there that have been inspired by designer jewelry and fashions....and instead of paying those pricey prices....have gritted their teeth and made their own!  Ok, I don't know if there was actual teeth gritting on their part - but I do sometimes find myself CLENCHING my teeth as I work hard to get a design just right (you know, how I've pictured it in my HEAD).

So, that's what I've been up to lately (in between filling orders...THANK YOU SO MUCH to all those who have ordered items from me....I LOVE making them for you....LOVE IT!).....Anyway....I've been making "Knock-offs"!!!  Or at least, I guess that's what you call it.  I've been seeing other awesome stuff out there, and making similarly designed items for a super small FRACTION of the price. 

I'm not an overly fashionable person....but I've recently come to believe that it's not because I don't WANT to be fashionable....oh no, it has MUCH more to do with the fact that I don't want to SPEND so much of my hard earned money on such high priced "fashion!"  I mean, I have kids to feed, clothe, spoil, etc....

Instead of going crazy with online shopping - I go crazy with MAKING.  Here are some of the latest:
My very first "knock off" - inspired by a Kate Spade necklace.  It took me almost two hours to make b/c I kept having to re-do the stems until I figured out the best way to make them straight!  :)


Another Kate Spade "knock-off"  The concept and supplies I wanted to use were floating around in my head for a while...finally figured out how to make it work this evening!  :)

Close-Up of the Flowery Fun!  :)


I think I first saw these birds nest necklaces on one of the blogs I follow (I REALLY need to get better about keeping track and then providing a link back to those blogs....
uhmmm.....as soon as I figure out how to "do a link.").

I just love them....they're the cutest little things.  I feel the need to make one in every possible color of glass pearl.  I'll try to control myself....


This is a J-Crew "knock-off".  Another blogger did it, and had a tutorial, and I made my own from that. 
I REALLY like this one too.  :)

Close up of the Sparkle....These can be done in any color assortment. 
What should I do next??!!


This is actually one of MY designs.  I like things pretty simple, and balanced, but also a little different.

And, here's one of the latest little interchangeable jewelry projects I've been working on:
I've made them in a variety of beaded designs...with LOTS of ribbon colors to choose from to swap out with!  For more pics of the designs available...check out this facebook album:

Sooooo.....you wanna know what ELSE I've been up to? 

I'm starting an ETSY shop!!!  SQUEALLLL!  I'm SO excited!!! BUT.....I didn't realize how LONG it would take me to upload all my pics of all my products!  It's been a little overwhelming.  I'm trying to organize how I can make it a little less daunting.  Maybe I'll do one product per week and have it be like a "feature album"....that way I could let everyone know on facebook and through my blog which items would be coming up for sale each week??  idk....I'll get it figured out. 

WHAT?  You don't know what ETSY is?  That's okay, I didn't either until I started dabbling in this wonderfully fun world of crafting and blogging.  The website is http://www.etsy.com/ and they sell ONLY hand-made items, vintage items, and supplies for making things.  It's like the crafters EBAY!  :)  There are SO many neat things on that site.  Check it out!  :)

Monday, May 23, 2011

The Coupon Experience

Do you "coupon?"  I guess it's a verb now...?  Or are you a "couponer?"  It's not like I've NEVER used a coupon before....sure I have.  Hellloooo....Kohl's discounts, Bath & Body Works, etc...  But I'm talking about browsing magazines and newspapers to clip out coupons and haul them to the store and actually REMEMBER to get the stuff you have coupons for and hand them over to the cashier.

Well, I tried that this evening.  Actually....I clipped the coupons last week out of some magazines...and finally got around to using them this evening.  I tried really hard to only clip out the ones that me and my family would ACTUALLY use...and not a bunch of coupons for new things to TRY...JUST because I had a coupon.  I think it would be easy to end up spending MORE money from buying extra unnecessary things - JUST because I had a coupon.

So....I'm not gonna lie.  It was a little awkward.  Do you hand them the coupons as you go along and they scan your items?  Or do you hand them all over at the end?  One of the coupons wasn't scanning...so I wasn't sure if they were going to honor it.  After fooling around with it for several minutes - they finally just entered it manually.  It was hard not to feel a little embarrassed on my first time out.  What if a long line had formed behind me and people started looking at me funny like "Geez....crazy coupon lady holding up the line!"?

Overall, it was worth the weirdness - because I ended up saving about $6.50....and with my total bill only being $19ish...that's a pretty good percentage for my first go of it!  :)  That's right people - you haven't seen the last of the new coupon lady!  I need to do better about searching out the coupons for the specific items that I KNOW we will need, or use weekly...that way I can be more prepared for my weekly grocery shopping trips and save even more $$$$!! 

Disclaimer - this coupon shopping trip was done WITHOUT children.  I assure you that if I would have had my children with me, there would have been about a 92% chance of me FORGETTING to HAND the Cashier the COUPONS!  I will probably have to work hard to improve this average - because my children are in fact usually WITH me when I have to get groceries.  I'll keep you posted on how THAT goes. 

Sunday, May 22, 2011

The Bench - REVEALED!

Remember a while back when I showed you this?

It was my original "score."  My first exciting "Make It NEW - Decor" project that I couldn't WAIT to make fit perfectly into my space.  After some cleaning, priming, painting, distressing, and Mom making the cushion for me out of some fabric I had picked out and some foam....we have:

I used the same heirloom white spray paint as I did in the small foot stool project, and distressed the edges.

I love the look of the distressed edges.  It also makes me WAY less picky about if it gets "bumped" or if a there is a small paint chip, etc...  I also love the fabric I found for the cushion.  My mom did a great job sewing it for me!!!

Cute, functional organization....LOVE. 

Here is where it lives now:


Just need to find some baskets in the right size....and we'll be good to go for attempting to keep all the kids' stuff organized for summer, and then school....and so on!  :)

It's been a GREAT weekend.  I probably have enough fun stuff to talk about for a post for each night of the week this week....but we'll see if that actually happens. 

For now - here's a sneak peak of my next project....
BAhahahaha....ME, with a Power Tool, and an ugly bookshelf.  Be afraid...be very afraid (you know, like I AM.....can you SEE the FEAR in my eyes??!!!)  LOL

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

First Things First

I talk (whine) a lot about all the things I want to do.....crafting, scrapbooking, jewelry making, furniture re-newing, etc....  The reality is....First Things First means FAMILY first.  Sure there are times when I tune my kids out a little when they're begging for their millionth snack of the day while I'm trying to finish up something on the computer - but when they need something, that comes first....ahead of any new projects, or orders to fill, or house to clean.

Last night was a pretty good example of that.  I consider my close friends an extension of my family, and when one of them is going through a hard time - they definitely go on my First Things First list (yes, I often make to-do lists, daily).  So, part of yesterday's to-do list for the evening was making supper for not only my family, but also my friend's.  It was easy.  I just made two lasagnas, split the huge loaf of garlic bread, and brought over a bag of salad to go with it.  I delivered it, along with some hugs, and came back home to feed my family.  It was an easy thing for me to do to help, and I think it meant a lot to them.  I've been praying for them a lot lately....if you feel so inclined - please add a precious little girl with a brain tumor to your prayer list as well.

Next on the to-do list - end of year teacher gifts!  This was Tuesday evening....Wednesday was Keely's last day and Thursday was Braxton's....can you say "Last Minute!?!"  I had several things in mind, it was just a matter of getting it all put together and DONE.  Here is a pic of some of the things I had to work with in my stash:

I used my Cricut to cut out CCDC (my daughter's preschool), and Mrs. Thompson (my son's 1st grade teacher) out of some vinyl, and applied them to glass jars that I'd been saving for just such a project (purchased at a thrift store in Crete, NE).  I then used my Creative Memories circle cutting system to cut out circles from my scrapbooking paper to decorate the lids.  I used some random stamps and letters with brown ink to decorate the cirlces for the lids.

Next, it was time to fill the jars with goodies.  I didn't have a lot of sweet treats or goodies on hand, so I gazed around my craft room at some previous projects that I had made.  I had personalized hand-sanitizers, purchased from the dollar tree, removed stickers, printed out custom phrase collage with laser jet on transparency sheets, cut to size and shoved in the sanitizer with the pump!  I also had a few of the card sets that I'd sewn (my only sewing machine project - to date).  Pencils I'd purchased at the Dollar Tree (yes, I LOVE that store)....wrapped with tulle and fabric and attached a hand-written card made with scrapbook paper.  I made some quick custom magnets with glass pebbles, scrapbook paper, circle magnets and my trusty glue gun.  And....I think that was about it.  Oh, I also added a zipper ring for Braxton's teacher and some chocolate because he said that chocolate is her favorite!  :)  Here is how they turned out:

Throw in baths, baked a cake, a quick and very much needed walk with a new neighbor friend, putting kids to bed, and spending time with hubby.  And THAT is how I put First Things First. 

THIS evening, however....after feeding kids, getting B to & from ball practice, baths, laundry, dishes, hopefully getting some cookies baked, and putting kids to bed....I am SO TOTALLY going to make some jewelry!!!  Uhm....If I'm still awake....
That's me with a bunch of costume jewelry from Lynn's Daycare (the kids dressed me up in it)....and I'm going to repurpose some of it!  :)

Monday, May 16, 2011

Round 2 = Foot Stool

Alrighty - time to tell you about Project #2 from my fabulous weekend!  As I mentioned previously...my Mom (Mary), and my kids and I went "thrifting" at one of the thrift stores in Marion, KS - and one in Hillsboro, KS.  We found several goodies.  I found some jewelry and pins that I'm excited to tear into and make into something WAY cuter.  Mom found a couple broches because she wants to try to make one of those awesome tie accessories that my friend Jen made on her "Jen Creates" facebook page.  Found a little bit of fabric, a jacket for a friend, some misc toys for the kiddos, Mom got a steamer for $1.50, talked Mom OUT of buying a sewing machine she didn't need from the 70s for $10....and then....the SCORE. 

As I was walking around...I noticed a little footstool sitting on the floor by an entertainment center.  I looked it over - and no price.  That's SO annoying to me.  So much so that I rarely even bother attempting to find a clerk to ask how much it is.  BUT - my Mom is a rock star, and she picked that bench right up and walked straight to the front counter to get the scoop.  She came back and said it's $1.99 - but EVERYTHING is 1/2 price all weekend.  So, that's right people, this baby was ONE DOLLAR!

Well, as soon as we got back to her house...silly me starting tearing it apart!  Darn it!  I always FORGET those important BEFORE pictures.  So, I sort of slapped the frame and one of the legs back on it and snapped a quick shot to try to convey how UGLY it was before:

And it smelled BAD.  Dingy, yucky, gross.  Hideous tan vinyl-type slightly sticky cover with wooden legs.  But other than that it was in pretty good shape!  It had some weird feature where you could prop up one side of it.  Sorry, but I thought it was dumb...and that my kids would probably just mess with it and end up breaking it.  So we redid it to just be a stationary bench.

My Mom may or may not be a bit of a fabric HOARDER.  Which is GREAT for me because I got to dig through her stash to find some cute fabric to recover the stool!  And the best part is that it was FREE!  We were able to reuse everything on the bench - including the nails.  So with just a few staples from Mom's staple gun, and some spray paint I had left over from my other project "score," ......we were able to turn UGLY into this:


Isn't it adorable?  Seriously....you can NOT find a cuter little foot stool for anywhere NEAR $1!!!! 

My daughter with her model request to take the pic with her eyes closed:
(One of these days I REALLY need to figure out how to flip pictures in this blogging program.  If any of you readers know how....PLEASE HELP!)

I have to give HUGE thanks to my mom for being the awesome, independent person that she is.  Everything from tracking down the price, to helping me recover it, and using her awesome fabric and staple gun.  I may have been able to do it without her - but it wouldn't have turned out NEAR as nice.  THANKS MOM!

Isn't it just so cute??!!

Oh, and in case you are wondering WHY I needed a new footstool....this is what my current one looked like after my son took some aggression out with a pocket knife:


He's never done anything like that before.  Not even in his "terrible twos!"  I don't know what he was thinking.  My husband said "it's a boy thing."  WHATEVER.  I think I'll hang onto this and recover it too.  Check out how easy it looks from the bottom....just six small screws:

So - I might have to give this one a try solo.

BUT...being the awesome Mom she is and knowing that I'm not nearly as confident or proficient enough in my sewing skills....yet....she is making the seat pad for my other "score."  She's going to bring it this coming Sunday when she comes up for K-bug's birthday party...so I'm hoping to post that big reveal Sunday evening!  :)

So....what do YOU think about THIS little project?  I'd LOVE to hear from you!  :)

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Make It NEW - Decor

I had a GREAT weekend.  After work on Friday, my kids and I headed down to my mom's in Marion, KS....and I of course packed about 1/3 of my craft room!  :)  We unpacked and talked about fun craft and jewelry ideas Friday night.  Went "thrifting" Saturday morning.  Threw a surprise baby shower for my sister Saturday afternoon.  Worked on some jewelry and projects Saturday evening.  Went to karaoke Saturday night.  Then did MORE crafting Sunday!  Today I'm going to tell you about just ONE of the many fun projects we worked on....

Did I ever show you THIS little guy??


Well, this has been in my family for a while.  I remember it growing up at my Dad and step-mom's house.  Then she let me have it as part of my old Americana decor above my kitchen cabinets.  After I re-did my kitchen....my kids started using it for a stool to sit on at the coffee table.  They were kind of hard on it...and my daughter also tried to "paint" it with that special paint that only shows up on the special paper....hence the clumps: 
My husband banned the children from sitting on it when the nails starting popping up recently:

....so I decided to "Make It NEW!"

I sanded it down a little, hammered down the nails, and painted it one of my favorite colors....heirloom white.   It was already looking much better....but it needed a little sumthin' sumthin'.  SO....we busted out the cricut machine, brown vinyl, and a sanding block.  I cut out the numbers from my Wall Decor and More cartridge in brown vinyl and applied it to the little stool.  Then I roughed up the edges with the sanding block because that's what all the cool kids do now (it really does add a lot of character).

And here it is!  :)

They can practice their numbers:

Look at those perfectly imperfect edges!  Love that!!
So....what do you think???  PLEASE, please, please leave a comment so I can have some feedback!  I would REALLY appreciate it!  And don't worry....I'll be posting the rest of our projects from this weekend soon!  ;)

Oh, and if you have an old piece of furniture that you would like to Make It NEW....I hope I've inspired you!  What?  You don't think you can do that kind of stuff?  Well.....I can help!  I'd LOVE to give you an estimate!  I really like $10 projects....so chances are - that's all it would cost you!  :)

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Don't Make Me Come Up There!


There are definitely times when I feel like this.  Check out this blog:
http://asoftplace.net/2011/05/dont-make-me-come-up-there-a-giveaway/comment-page-1/#comment-42770

For a chance to win this book:

I'm sure I'll only have more of these feelings as my lovely children get older and have more hormones.  Ah, the anticipation....LOL.

I love checking out other blogs...and this one is great.  So head on over to see what I'm talking about...and to have a chance to win!  :)

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Make It NEW

I already shared this photo on facebook:


But let me tell you the whole story on how that came about.  I've seen a lot of really pretty creations out there in the "blogosphere" ...as they call it...  I really like the combonations of the different styles of necklaes in to one.  And, as many of you probably already now....I like to use/re-use things to make "other" things (hence the necklaces made out of dominos, rings made out of zippers, etc...).  SO....I've definitely been on the hunt lately for "things" that I can REUSE and make something NEW out of them. 

Randon Background Info:  Growing up here in Concordia, there was a woman and her mother that lived together right next door to us.  I didn't know them all that well at the time, but I got to know the daughter better through one of my jobs after college.  I then kept in touch with her some throughout the years because she lived across the street from my children's daycare provider.  Sadly, the woman passed away not long ago.  She liked to "collect" things, and one of the things that she collected was costume jewelry.  My daycare provider was also the executor of this woman's estate, so when she passed away - she allowed me to choose some pieces from her collection, and in return I made a donation to her estate.  I think she would have liked that I was able to use the pieces to create new things.

This is how the set pictured above (one of her pieces) started out (sort of):

It's not a great picture of the piece - because silly me....I tend to rip right into things without giving much thought to taking a "before" picture.  And, yes, the tag was still on it.  It was a three strand necklace with tiny, clear plastic bead spacers.  I knew that I definitely wanted to make a necklace like this:

and I was also DYING to try to make a three-strand bracelet because I think they are SO cute with a flower pin attached to them.  Here's a pic of the bracelet (sorry, no flower pin available):

I made the set while at the Glamour and Glitz for Gals craft show in Clay Center, KS.  I like Clay Center.  It's a cute town.  My parents and my step-brother and his family live there.  They have a nice down-town, and cute stores.  This craft show, however, was a total BUST.  AWESOME vendors, don't get me wrong....but no one CAME.  Kind of defeated the purpose.  I got to shop a little tho, and meet some GREAT people/vendors that I'll be inviting to MY next craft show!  :)  SOOO.......I was BORED.  Which is why I tore apart the necklace and made those other two pieces.  Well, in case you haven't noticed....I like RINGS.  So I had to make this little beauty to go along with the set:

My Dad and Step-Mom watched my kiddos while at the craft fair, and the next day was Mother's Day, and two days after that was her birthday.  So....I gave her an awesome Satin Hands set from Mary Kay for Mother's Day (yep, I turned into a Mary Kay lady all of a sudden).  AND, I asked her to pick out a set from my jewelry collection for her birthday.  She had already seen most of it...including a few new pieces that I had made at her house the night before.  Here is one of them:

***Maybe some day I'll learn how to flip pictures up-right on this stinkin Blog!  Ugh!!!

Anway, when I showed her the new set that I'd made at the craft fair....she really liked it.  So, Happy Birthday!  :)  I was really excited.  It's pretty cool to be able to give nice gifts now that I've been exploring this wonderful world of CREATING. 

I'm pretty sure my favorites will always be new things that I create out of old things.  I started working on my "score" tonight (finally).  I've primed it, and started painting it...but then I ran out of my new favorite spray paint.  I would tell you the color, but that would RUIN the REVEAL!  LOL  Happy Crafting!  :)

Monday, May 9, 2011

Surgery Happened

You know the saying "Life Happened?"...(or "happens").  Well, recently, SURGERY happened.  It was a simple outpatient procedure to correct a hereditary hearing problem.  But it was still SURGERY.  I thought I was cool with it....until a day or two before.  I was pretty much freaking out!  I was an emotional, teary, blubbering MESS. 

I've only had surgery 3 other times in my life.  The first was in 4th grade.  I had ear tubes put in because I couldn't hear.  It was because I had SO MUCH fluid constantly in my ears.  That is the only time I had ever been put under general anesthesia.  The second time was in 8th grade.  I had an in-grown toenail surgically removed.  That was a local anesthetic.  Kind of gross, not fun, but not too traumatic either.  The third was the birth of my daughter.  An Emergency C-section.  I was TERRIFIED.  Here I was planning to have a nice easy birth in little old Concordia, KS.  It was going to be "great" b/c I was going to get an epidural (which I wasn't able to have with my 8lb 1oz son b/c our hospital is small and only has one anesthesiologist who was stuck in emergency surgery during my delivery!).  Well, Miss Keely progressed too quickly and her heart rate started dropping when I tried to push.  I BAWLED the whole way to the OR.  Everything went completely fine.  Keely just had an abnormally long umbilical cord and it was tucked up around her stomach...so every time I pushed, it made her heart rate go down.  That was the first major surgery I'd ever had - but I was still awake.

So, I was pretty freaked out about the whole general anesthesia thing.  The condition I have is called Otosclerosis.  It basically means that I have a bony growth that forms on the middle ear bone, called the Stapes.  That bony growth eventually makes the middle ear bone not be able to vibrate properly - which doesn't allow sound to travel through the ear canal like it's supposed to.  The only people that had really started to notice that I hadn't been hearing well lately were my husband and my co-worker.  I could tell that I had a hard time hearing male voices, and other low sounds - but I never had trouble talking to people face to face because I could read their lips.  I also didn't have trouble on the phone because I used my left ear (it's not as bad as my right one). 

So...they performed a Stapedectomy - to remove the Stapes bone with the bony growth - and replace it with a PISTON.  My MIL went with me to the initial appointment.  She and I both thought it was kind of funny that I was having this type of "part" put in my ear -and thought my mechanic BIL and service manager hubby would think it was pretty funny. 

My step-mom came with me on the big day.  I had a HORRIBLE migraine two nights before the surgery.  I called her and was bawling.  I think she knew I was pretty stressed out about the whole thing.  So, between that and carrying Keely's twin frame, box and mattress up to the top floor from the garage by myself...causing my neck to need a chiropractic adjustment (I cried at the chiropractor too)....I was pretty miserable!!  I was nervous the whole way to Overland Park the night before.  I was nervous that morning...and then I had to wait over an HOUR after being prepped for surgery.  Talk about BORING, and even MORE nerve-racking.  I remember being wheeled into the operating room, and thinking it was pretty freaky looking.......and then I remember waking up in the recovery room.  The nurse was there beside me - but I was pretty freaked out.  I didn't go crazy or anything, but tears started running from my eyes.  I think I was scared.  She asked me if I was scared, and I nodded yes.  She asked if I wanted my Mom, and I nodded yes.  She came back, and I knew I was okay - I was just pretty out of it.  They said I had trouble waking up after surgery, but thought that I was just really tired (Gee, ya think?  I had NOT sleep well the 2-3 nights leading up to it - so my body probably took advantage of the anesthetic and got some much needed rest!). 

I felt like I had a bad ear ache, and my throat kind of hurt from the tube they have to shove down it.  They had me eat some ice chips, then drink some water, and then eat some applesauce before taking a Vicadin.  After that I was feeling pretty good!  LOL  I wasn't in any pain.  I wasn't even very dizzy, and I was NOT nauseaus...so that was awesome.  I was afraid I'd feel like I needed to puke afterwards - but nope! 

We were able to leave shortly after, but they recommended that we break up the long trip home.  We stopped in Topeka for a late lunch, and I felt good enough to eat pretty well.  I even felt good enough to go to Bed, Bath, and Beyond to get Keely a new bedding set for her birthday...AND to Hobby Lobby to pick up a few things I needed for a couple projects.  That's right people...shopping for birthday gifts and craft projects ON the SAME DAY as SURGERY!  Woot!

I had to stay the night at my parent's house that evening because I wasn't allowed to drive home and I had to be monitered for 24 hours.  The next day I got up, stopped by "Total Addiction" in Clay Center b/c I've been following them on facebook.  They said 1st time shoppers got to pick out a free $5 ring!  SWEET!  I also found some cute little red earrings (I've been looking for cute little red earring since last Fall!)...AND I picked out a blue pair for Jill for Administrative Assistant's Day.  When I got back to Concordia, I ordered flowers for Jill, picked my daughter up from preschool, and covered the shop over the lunch hour (against doctor's orders).  And then I went home and took a LONG nap!

The next week and a half were a bit of a blur.  I tried to take it easy, but of course DIDN'T do a very good job of that.  I had a really bad dizzy spell the next day while covering the lunch hour, and barely made it home and up the stairs to my room.  We had to make a quick trip to Olathe/Gardner that weekend to celebrate our God-son's first communiun....I was dragging...  I definitely have a new respect for surgery.  It takes a lot out of you, and you have to REST so that your body can recover.  Even for a tiny little procedure on your EAR.  It's still a little sensitive, and I'm not allowed to get water in it for six weeks...which makes washing my hair difficult.  They said to put a cotton ball in my ear and cover it with vaseline.  I tried it.  Twice.  It does NOT work.  I finally bought some ear plugs from Wal-Mart that kids use for swimming when they have ear tubes.  I still get mildly dizzy every once it a while, but I'm definitely doing MUCH better this week.  Finally feeling back to myself, and hopefully soon I'll notice that I can HEAR better!  :)  BIG Thanks for all my family and friends for their help and support and love and prayers!  :)

P.S.  I would have totally posted pics, but they freaked out some people at the shop....so I don't want to gross anyone out or anything...