Check out my summer DIY over at STC. Cheap supplies, easy steps -- anyone can make these! But if you'd rather not get your hands dirty, pop on over to my etsy shop and buy them. Every dollar goes to purchase our plane tickets to bring little miss home... hopefully this year!
I'm happy to be a contributor for a second year to help The Sparrow Fund's Build the Nest campaign. In this way, I am able to help other adoptive families, even while our family is in the journey! And so, if you purchase from my etsy shop in the month of May, you will be helping our family to adopt, plus blessing countless others through the work of The Sparrow Fund. Please visit their website for a complete list of partners.
If you missed the last post with some wool sweater ideas, check it out here. Pillows are an easy thing to start with.
blankets & quilts
Another great idea for using large chunks of sweaters are lap blankets or quilts.
You can make any kind of patchwork pattern out of sweater pieces, then sew to a coordinating flannelette with right sides together. Leave a small section unsewn for turning it right side out. Finish with a stitch 1/4 inch from the edge of the blanket. Lap blankets for car seats are a great baby gift for the wintertime.
But what about those pesky arms of sweaters or those little pieces that are left over? Shouldn't I just throw them away? Absolutely not! There's still much to make from scraps. Unless you're planning on making coffee cozies or candle cozies out of the sweater arms, you can feel free to cut them apart at the seam, giving you yet another nice size of felted wool to create with. When cut open, the arms make great pot holders.
One item that was popular at my craft show the other weekend were wool sweater pot holders. Wool is naturally heat-resistant, and with your wool having gone through the felting process, the fibers are nice and tight. No yucky chemicals like in the store-bought pot holders. Wool is also stain-resistant. And these are pretty enough to use on the table as a trivet. Just cut your wool whatever size you want (mine are about 7 inches square).
Now, here's the beauty of felted wool. Since it will not fray when cut, you can sew these 2 layers of wool with right sides facing out, and it will look great! No need to hide your stitches. I added some extra stitching across the pot holder for more durability, but it's not essential. Oh, and before you sew it all the way shut, add a little strip of wool for hanging.
garland & bunting
Since it's almost time for that holiday decorating, why not make some fun bunting or garland? Or, if you'd rather not do-it-yourself, my etsy shop is always open :)
For the bunting, I just made a template for the size triangles I wanted. Cut your stash of felted wool. Then, tuck the tops of the triangles into double sided bias tape and finish with a simple straight stitch. So easy, but this would be beautiful tucked into the Christmas tree, across windows, or as winter party decor.
Get the kids involved with this last project. As long as it's about 1 inch, no scrap is too tiny to create with! Make colorful felted wool garland out of square scraps. Two of my boys (ages 7 & 9) spent some time working together to make this garland. Just thread some yarn into a thick, large-eyed needle, and sew through the middle of your square scraps. Knot your yarn every 3 squares or so, to keep the garland from bunching up when it's hung. Would look so festive on the tree or draped in a window for the winter.
I will have a few final ideas coming soon to use up your felted wool stash. In the meantime, check out my pinterest board for additional inspiration.
Have you ever created with felted wool? What was your favorite project? Are you planning on trying one of these ideas -- which one?
One of my favorite crafting materials to work with is up-cycled felted wool sweaters. They're like a colorful blank canvas, just waiting for some re-creation work. Not to mention, they are fuzzy and soft.
Start out with a treasure hunt at your local thrift store. Our local Salvation Army has 1/2 price clothing days once a week, so that is my best time to shop. Buy the biggest 100% wool sweaters you can find. The men's section is usually not as crowded as the ladies, so head there first. They don't have to be in perfect shape, or even name-brand, because you're going to cut these babies up eventually.
The key here is 100% wool for the felting process to work. Throw your sweaters into the washing machine on a hot cycle with detergent and as much agitation in the cycle as possible. These are your components to a successful felting process. Once washed, throw them into the dryer, again with the hottest temperature possible. Check and empty your lint several times. I don't like to throw anything away, so I'm sure there is a DIY craft for clean wool lint. (Fire starters, probably?)
Once your sweaters have been felted, they will be noticeably smaller. This is because the fibers have become denser and tighter. They will not fray when cut, making felted wool a nice material to work with. Now for some DIY project ideas just in time for the holidays.
The easiest project is a felted sweater pillow. All you need are basic sewing skills for this. Turn your sweater inside out and pin your layers together. Decide on the size and shape of your finished design. I usually lay my sweaters on a cutting board to use the lines to help me cut straight. Then, straight stitch all around, leaving a small opening for stuffing. Fill with polyester fiberfill and hand stitch shut.
For added interest, consider making some beautiful felted wool flowers. They are easy to make following this tutorial. Beautiful leaves can be made by cutting a leaf shape around a sweater seam, using the seam as your leaf veins. If you are adding flowers or buttons to your pillow, it is easier to sew them on before the pillow is sewn together. Just a hint. Not that I did or did not forget that hint while sewing my pillows. :)
I love how interesting buttons can look on a pillow. I just cut 2 circles of felted wool and sewed vintage wood buttons on the top of the pile. Now they kind of resemble little flowers on the pillow.
Another pillow idea is to find a nice button up sweater. This one is turned inside out, sewn all around, then undo the buttons to slip in a pillow form. So easy! All the hard work is already done for you.
And here it is finished and all buttoned up.
Now that the largest part of the sweater has transformed into a pillow, what do you do with the arms and other smaller pieces? Whatever you do, DO NOT throw anything away. Check back in my next post for several more projects to use up all that gorgeous wool.
Did you miss last year's felted wool DIY post? Check it out for more great ideas.
Welcome to Pebble Beach, White Head Island, New Brunswick, Canada. Nestled in the cold North Atlantic waters of the Bay of Fundy, and boasting some of the highest tides in the world, this little beach is a fun place to do some treasure hunting.
And treasure hunting we did! We had such a nice vacation last month visiting family here. I already told you about our adventures with dulsing and picking bakeapples. Today I want to give you a peek into the amazing North Atlantic beaches on White Head Island, and show you some one-of-a-kind items that are popping into my etsy shop from this beach!
We spent lots of time on the two sandy beaches plus Pebble Beach.
This is Pebble Beach, where my father-in-law does his dulse drying. There are lots of old nets half buried or washed up on the rocks.
With the tide rising and falling 40 feet each 12 hours, an amazing amount of beach treasures are abundant and ready for pickers... like me!
Nothing is too worn or battered. Everything has a story. Everything can be up cycled and made like new again. And its second life will be more beautiful than its original existence.
The sea has smoothed rough edges. The bark has been stripped off of tree limbs, leaving behind a soft white mellow patina. Once-mighty wharfs and stately trees have been drifting in the cold North Atlantic. How long? Long enough to strip away tough parts and splinters. Long enough to expose a new beauty from the broken pieces.
So from the Bay of Fundy beaches on White Head Island, right to your coastal-inspired decor, here are my newest pieces in my driftwood collection. Use this green knobbed beauty to hang your favorite jewelry or keys.
If you like authentic and natural, this one is for you. I love to imagine what it was in its former life. Those nails are original. The driftwood has specks of something left on it... maybe specks of bark or specks of seaweed dried on? Whatever it is, you could never recreate this patina. It's unashamedly natural. Humble, even. Never to be replicated. If you love it, grab it.
I'm sure there will be more to come from my stash of driftwood, nets, sea glass, and periwinkle shells. Stay tuned. It's such fun to create treasures from seemingly worthless things. And it reminds me of what the Master Creator has done in my life. Taken the old, the worthless, the broken, and made me a new creation.
We did a lot of picking while visiting White Head Island, N.B., Canada, on our recent vacation. Picking dulse. Picking bakeapples. And picking treasures off the beach (more on that in a later post!)
So today I want to show you our adventure in picking bakeapples, how you can get some yummy jam for yourself and support our adoption at the same time!
Bakeapples occupy a variety of moist northern tundra and peat bog habitats. White Head Island in the Bay of Fundy, is one of those special places where they grow. On a rather warm day on White Head Island, we took our vehicles as far as they could go toward the heath. Rubber boots. Check. Buckets. Check. Now to find those bakeapples.
Into the heath we went. We had to be careful to step on sturdy ground. Sometimes our feet went into the mossy heath too far, and we almost lost some boots! We made sure not to lose any boys :)
We were there at just the right time, since they are generally ready for picking around mid July. First came a lesson from Nana on what to look for. Bakeapples look like a large raspberry. The fruit is red when unripe and turns a soft golden orange at maturity. It grows one berry to a plant approximately 3-4 inches high.
Called "bakeapple" in Atlantic Canada, the name is anglicized from the French, "baie qu'appelle..." meaning, "what is this berry called..?" It is internationally known as a "Cloudberry." It was interesting to discover that IKEA sells Cloudberry Jam, but it is not available on their website. It is only available in their stores when you're lucky enough to find it in stock.
Bakeapples have a distinct honey/apricot-like flavor. These berries are extremely rich in vitamin C and contain few calories. And like IKEA says, "Their rarity makes cloudberries a delicacy." Yes, hand-picked, each one of them.
After an hour or two in the heath picking bakeapples, we were ready to take them back to the house and let Nana work her magic on them and produce... Bakeapple Jam for my etsy shop!
If you're looking for the perfect gift for that person who has everything... how about our Bakeapple Jam? There is a limited quantity available, so grab it while you can. And as always, the proceeds from the jam (and everything else in my etsy shop!) go toward the adoption of our daughter from Ethiopia.
I have been absent from this blog for way too long! But I had a good excuse... we were vacationing and visiting family in the Bay of Fundy. And I can't wait to tell you all about it (plus show you some amazing pictures)... more to come soon.
But I also wanted to pop in to say "Welcome" to all those who have stumbled upon this blog via my etsy shop's feature over at Satisfaction Through Christ! And by the way, there is a fun giveaway from my shop over there at the STC blog this week, so check it out and make sure you enter.
These sweet napkins are made from authentic vintage bedsheets -- yes, like the ones you remember from grandma's house! They are double sided & reversible and would make a beautiful addition to your table. These particular ones are for sale at my shop, but if you'd like some for FREE, enter the giveaway at the Satisfaction Through Christ blog. But you only have a week, so hurry!
I'll be back later with some fun stories about our adventures in the Maritimes.
I don't know about you, but I love blogs where I get to peek into someone's day and see what they've been working on. Especially if they include lots of photos. So, here's my Saturday In Pictures.
We have been so blessed by the extra income from my etsy shop of late. Who would have thought? It's just enough to keep my creative juices flowing and gives me the excuse to do thrift store treasure hunting! What's big right now?
I get to hunt for children's books to chop up. It's almost sad to cut up nice books, but the finished product is so cute, and all the profit is bringing us that much closer to our little girl!
Another trend this spring has been shabby chic painted mason jars. Here's a special order I'm working on for a wedding. These are quart sized jars, but I'm also doing 1/2 gallon. Did you know mason jars came that large? Very fun! The bride is putting pink hydrangeas in these mint jars. Sounds beautiful.
Then I spent several more hours today updating my four boys' memory books. I used to keep up with these, but I noticed I hadn't done anything with them for about a year! Eeeekk!! That is really hard on my Type-A personality. So, I waded through my pile of papers, artwork, certificates, and photos and got their memory books up-to-date. All I have to say is, their future wives better appreciate all the effort I've put into chronicling their growing-up years :) I found this sweet drawing that our 5-year-old made just a few months ago.
Count the kids. See it? Five kiddos. He included little sister. Love this.
And the final picture of the day is a sweet bouquet of ferns and flowers from the edge of the woods that one of my boys picked for me. And I had the perfect "vase" to use. Finally. I've been on the lookout for a while for something like this. Snagged it this week for $1.99 at Salvation Army.
What was your Saturday like? Busy or relaxing? What would a Saturday in Pictures look like for you?
The FedEx guy should be delivering the rest of our dossier to our social worker today. Next stop -- D.C. for authentications, then on to Ethiopia!
With this next step comes our next big payment! In celebration of this progress, please use the coupon code DOSSIER to receive 10% off your purchase in my etsy shop.
Tell your friends.... Mother's Day is just around the corner :)
And this brings us one step closer to bringing our daughter home!
I have had several people ask me recently what is included in our adoption process and how far along we are... so I thought I would try to take some of the mystery out of the world of international adoption. Well, at least adoption from Ethiopia. We are by no way experts; we're learning as we go. And I know to expect the unexpected, delays, and the like. So, even though we know what is supposed to happen, we are not getting our hopes up for a flawless journey.
It literally took several years of praying and thinking and reading about adoption to finally decide as a family to "let's do this!" We did look into domestic adoption in Canada (when we lived there) and the US, but God closed those doors for our family. So, international it will be. The next step was very daunting. It is the step of looking at countries to figure out which program is a good fit. Requirements for each country are different in such areas as age, income, number of children in the home, ages of adoptable children, length of stay in the country, etc.... When people ask, "How did you choose Ethiopia?" I like to say that Ethiopia chose us. Or God chose Ethiopia for us. I can't really tell you, other than that. The details surrounding an Ethiopian adoption fit our situation better than any other country available to us.
After deciding on Ethiopia, we had to find an agency that could facilitate our adoption. You can find much information to start with on the U.S. Department of State intercountry adoption website.
Next up, home study. We had four visits with a social worker in our home, answered countless questions, and filled out detailed paperwork about our backgrounds, family, beliefs, etc. We also had to have physicals and criminal checks done. Our first home study visit was on September 8th, and we had our completed home study in our hands by December 14th.
By the 18th, our home study and some other documents were on their way to USCIS (Citizenship & Immigration) along with our "Application for Advance Processing of Orphan Petition." They'll give us a fingerprinting appointment, then once we get USCIS approval, we can send all our documents (dossier) to Ethiopia. At that point, we will wait (don't know how long?) for a referral of a child. We are requesting a girl between the ages of 0-4 so that we don't mess with birth order.
This adoption will require 2 trips. On the first trip we will meet our little one and finalize the adoption with the Ethiopian court. Then, we will return home for several weeks (months?). When we return, we will get our child's exit visa, and bring her home!
God has provided little by little for this adoption through the generosity of friends & family, through our personal savings, people using our amazon link, sippy cups of change, Just Love coffee, and through little things like my etsy shop! Now that our home study is done, we can also apply to the many organizations that offer grants to adoptive families, such as AbbaFund. Each step of the way there is a new fee due, so we are updating our "fundraising thermometer" on the side bar to show an approximate round number that this adoption will cost, travel included. We're going to say $30,000 (although in reality, it's going to be a bit more).
Hope this post was helpful in understanding a bit of the journey we're on. We're still excited to see how God will lead, provide, rescue, and show His glory through this adoption!