Hang on to Fall

Fall = candles.  When the temperature starts dropping, I start lighting candles in the kitchen to bring warmth in.  It’s getting dark earlier.  Bring some of the beautiful Fall colors and a little light into the house with this project:

I picked leaves off our Burning Bush in varying shades of green and red (The Giving Tree, right?).  Next, I found a simple glass candle holder at our local Goodwill – you know I love them!  Reduce, reuse, recycle!

This one had a wood base and a removable glass vase.  Starting at the bottom of the vase, I painted on Mod Podge and placed the greenest leaves – stem side down – overlapping around the vase.  More Mod Podge on top of each leaf.  The next layer was the greenish/red leaves, again overlapping a bit.  Lastly, the red layer.  When I was finished and the Mod Podge had semi-dried, I cut the overhanging stems along the bottom of the vase so it would sit properly on the wood base.

With the addition of a candle, I have a constant reminder of the beauty of the passing season.  Since I chose red and green leaves, I’m planning to use my candle holder well into the Christmas season, too!  Don’t limit yourself to leaves.  Any semi-translucent paper, fabric or object will work and still let the light shine through.  Try postage stamps (soak them off the envelope paper first), gum wrappers or tissue paper cut into snowflake shapes!  I’d love to see your ideas come to life!  Post a photo in the comments – it doesn’t need to be your own creation – just look around while you’re shopping this season.  The first photo wins one of my Christmas-themed mini books!

For more fun ideas, stayed tuned or subscribe to this blog using the tab above or click on over to www.WendyAmato.com.  Happy Fall!

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Surprise in a can!

I’m always looking for a fun way to wrap a present.  Here’s what I’m up to lately:

Take a can of vegetables or fruit or anything else with a pull-top lid.  Take the BOTTOM off of the can, wash it and fill it with the surprise gift.  Glue the bottom back on and ta-da… a surprise gift in a can.

Here are my secret tools:

OXO Smooth Edge Can Opener – cuts the side of the can thus taking off the end of the can without any sharp edges.

G-S Hypo Cement – bonds metal to metal, has a precision applicator, doesn’t bond fingers.

That’s it!  Decorate the outside and make a matching tag.  It’s really fun to hide a gift card and some candy inside or even a pair of earrings!  If you need a pair of earrings to hide inside YOUR can, visit my jewelry sale this Friday and Saturday.  Check my website, www.WendyAmato.com, for details.

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Create your own font!

Font junkies rejoice!  There is a website that allows you to create your own font without any high-level technical skill.  So cool!  I spent about twenty minutes last night designing my characters and then a single minute uploading my design template and instantly there it was – my handwriting on my computer screen.  I’ll warn you upfront, however, this could become addictive!  Our son caught wind of what I was doing and he wanted to give it a try.  His font, however, was a coded font!  You would need the code to decipher any messages typed in that font.  Something he and a friend have been wanting to create for some time now.  Very, very cool!  A section of the template is reserved for a signature.  So even if you don’t want an entire font in your handwriting, you can get your signature digitized.  Cool, again!

So here’s what you do:

Go to yourfonts.com and print out the template.  Using the template, handwrite your characters within the boundary lines.  You don’t need to stick to alpha characters only, get creative and draw some cute designs, too!  When you are finished, scan the page and save it (the site has a list of available file types).  Go back to yourfonts.com and upload your file and name your font.  Instantly, your font will appear on screen!  If you want to use your font, the price of the font file is $9.95 and the file is available immediately to download and use.

For those who have experience with Photoshop, there is a digital template available to download.  You can take a sampling of Great-Grandma’s handwriting and cut and paste the letters into the template.  What a unique way to journal your family’s history!  You could also use your kids’ handwriting to create your holiday letter.  I used my mouse to create a font but if you have a pen/tablet, all the better.  Have fun and let me know how your font turned out.  For other fun ideas, check back here or click on over to my website:  WendyAmato.com.

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Altered Book #101

I found this little gem of a book at Half Price Books CHEAP!  I couldn’t resist the list of 101 Things Every Kid Should Do.  While paging through, I realized that we, as a family, had done most of the activities on the list!  And I actually had pictures to prove it!  “Ah Ha” moment!  I searched through stacks of extra photos and ordered new ones from index prints and before I knew it, I had many of the pages filled with a photo or two from our archives.  I kept it simple and stapled the photos to the pages.  The extra bulk prevents the book from closing and instead sits open on the table like those accordion party decorations.  To look through the book reminds me that our kids have enjoyed many of the simpler pleasures of childhood, not to mention proof that I am, indeed, a fun Mom.

Some of the catagories:

Every kid should…

…help bake a cake from scratch and then lick the frosting bowl.

…experiment with simple science projects.

…blow a bubble gum bubble until it pops.

…play dress-up.

…ride a horse.

You get the idea!  Have fun with your old children’s books.  I’d love to see the results.

For more fun scrapbooking ideas, check out my website:  WendyAmato.com.

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T-Shirt Quilts 101

I wanted to create something special for our son when he left grade school to start junior high.  I had been collecting his t-shirts from sports, camps, events and favorite teams for years.  It seemed a perfect time to put the two together.  I cut each t-shirt into a 12″x12″ square using a cardboard template and a rotary cutter.  After laying them all out on the floor to arrange colors so I wouldn’t have same colors next to each other, I made stacks of squares by rows so it would be easier to sew one row at a time.  I sewed with a 1″ seam allowance because the batting I chose recommended having a gap in stitches no larger than 10″x10″.  Here are some lessons I learned along the way that I’ll share in case you would like to have a little “fun”:

1.  Quilters are perfectionists.  Every seam needs to be perfect for the whole thing to come out lined up properly.  I, on the other hand, love the saying, “Every quilt has one intended error.”

2.  Quilts are not fragile.  In order to sew from one end of the quilt to the other, you need to SHOVE the entire wad of fabric (all three layers) through that little space between the needle arm and the rest of your sewing machine.  No small feat!

3.  Sewing machines don’t like iron-on letters and imprints.  The presser foot gets stuck on them.  Newsprint comes in handy, however, you end up sewing on paper and it’s hard to see where you’re going.  No pain, no gain!

4.  Clear thread is great to quilt with.  If you sew out of line, you can’t see the stitches anyway.  Love the stuff!

5.  Pick a busy background fabric for the back side.  It hides all those errors mentioned in #1 above.

6.  Quilts are not cheap for a reason.  This will NOT become one of my custom design items.  OK, maybe if the price was right.  If you want to have someone else make yours, try www.CampusQuilt.com.  Like I said, they are not cheap for a reason.  However, the finished product is priceless.

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Twin booties

A friend of mine is expecting twins so I thought a pair of matching booties would be a perfect gift.  After checking my stash, I came up with this very light celery-colored nubby rayon yarn (Germaine “Khaki” from Yarn Country Yarns).  I knit up these very simply-styled booties since we don’t know the gender of the babies yet.  I’ll add some matching ribbon to the package in case they need to be dressed up a bit.  Just a little something special for a good friend!

Here are the finished booties – so cute!

If you need a unique gift, visit my website, WendyAmato.com for inspiration!

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Thoughts on Halloween

I was at Goodwill yesterday dropping off the products of our garage-cleaning efforts.  I had to stop in to look around!  It truly is AMAZING at that place.  Clothing all organized by size and color, shoes all lined up by size, books on shelves in categories – and then there was the Halloween costume section!  Three entire ROWS of costumes.  Adult and children’s sizes.  Wow!  Bring the kids!  Have them pick out their favorites.  Save yourself the stress and expense of waiting until the last minute to find an outfit.  You may even find a cute sweater (or 6 of them!) for yourself.  The staff is so friendly and each one of them ends their greeting with, “Thank you for supporting the Goodwill mission!”  My pleasure!

Congratulations to Nicole A. from Cary.  She is the lucky winner of the keyfob.  Stay tuned for more giveaways!

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Just planning ahead

The thermometer dipped below 70 and I’m all over that.  The mitten and ear muff box cannot be far behind.  I made this mitten from some really soft Garnstudio Eskimo wool that Mom brought back from Scandanavia for me.  It’s too holey so I think I’ll take it apart and try again with two strands and bigger needles then felt it.  Should end up a nice thick, warm mitten when I’m finished.  Stay tuned for a future post about making wool mittens from an old wool sweater that you just throw in the washer to felt first.  Good kid project!  Happy Labor Day tomorrow!

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Knitting season

It's OK to bury me in this - it took long enough to make it!Go Northwestern!  The first day of our college football viewing season means “get back to knitting” for me.  I love watching the games but my hands just can’t sit still.  Knitting gets me through it!  I FINALLY finished knitting the pieces of my cardigan sweater today.  I’ve been working on this one for what seems like FOREVER!  Now, the fun begins.  At first glance, I’m sure it will be too big for me.  (Mom, do you want to see your Christmas present???)  We’ll see if I can sew it together and make it smaller at the same time.  Really, I’m not that talented!  In case you are that talented and noticed that I knit one sleeve in the round and the other one flat – good eye!  If you can lend any pointers please comment on this post.  I’d love to hear them.  Say a little prayer for me and enjoy the game!

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Hello world!

Hello blogging world!  This is Day One of my new blog.  I thought it would be fun to share some of the projects I’m working on.  I hope you are inspired to try some of them or come up with a new project of your own.  If you need help or have a new idea to try, leave a comment.  So here we go…

Spiral Notebooks Go Green!

Now that the kids are off to school with all of their NEW supplies, the question on my mind was, “What do I do with all the OLD supplies they brought home at the end of last year?”  I’m focusing this post on the stack of spiral notebooks that have a subject written in Sharpie on the cover and 68 of the original 70 blank pages still intact.  Here’s what I did with them:

Start out by cutting the spiral wire in the middle with a wire cutter.  You may have to unhook the wire end from the coil.  Next, pull the end of the wire away from the paper.  Spin the spiral wire with your fingers until it comes off the paper completely and repeat for the other side.  Now you’re left with a stack of unbound filler paper.  If the holes on the edge seem too messy, cut them off or tear using the perforation.

There you go!  A nice big stack of filler paper that stays out of the landfill for a little while longer!  If you can’t use it, send it to school with your kids.  Their teachers can put it to good use in the classroom!

Now, you ask, “What can I do with these wires?”  Here’s what I came up with:

Bookmarks!

Stretch out one end of the wire to make it straight.  Bend it over to make a long “U” shape.  Tape over the straight end with some colored plastic tape or masking tape.  Then string on some of those melting beads or pony beads (you know you have them!).  Curl the end of the wire so the beads don’t fall off.  For the letter beads, it’s best to stretch out the wire so they can swirl around easier.  There you have it!  Reduce, reuse, recycle!  That was fun!  For more fun stuff from me, check out my website:  www.WendyAmato.com.

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