Made with Moxie: 2011

November 3, 2011

Helping those in need

It seems as though everyone on Facebook is re-posting statuses to raise awareness of diseases and charities in need. That is great and all, but there is very little benefit for those who are actually in need. It's a lazy way to care, in my humble opinion, if that is the only thing you are going to do. For the rest of the year, I'm pledging to do some real help for those in need.

The holidays are meant to be a time of peace, harmony and goodwill. Unfortunately, the incidences of domestic violence don't decrease just because it is the holiday season. This time of year can be difficult for so many, especially those who have fled their home to escape abuse. To help the women and children they serve experience a joyous holiday, the House Of Ruth Maryland sponsors the Adopt A Family program each year.

The House Of Ruth Maryland leads the fight to end violence against women and their children by confronting the attitudes, behaviors and systems that perpetuate it, and by providing victims with the services necessary to rebuild their lives safely and free of fear. Their vision is that one day, every woman in Maryland will be safe in her own home.

You can find out more here.

During the months of November and December I will be donating 50% of every sale from my Etsy shop to The House of Ruth in order to adopt victims of domestic violence that are in need this holiday season. Buying an item from the shop can not only be a gift for someone on your giving list, but a gift for someone who has nothing this holiday season. The program helps to provide basic needs like clothes and toiletries as well as gifts for mothers to wrap and give to their children.

You can find my Etsy shop here.

If anything, consider giving something directly to the House of Ruth. Skip a latte one day or for a week. Remember how fortunate we all are and pass some of that on this holiday season.

Thank you!

(Photo is Jane Felix from last Christmas.)

October 9, 2011

"You can tell yourself anything is too difficult, or you can just do it. You just need to be hungry."

I just read this article in the New York Times Sunday Review. You should read it too. But if you're too lazy it's about a woman who, when she finds herself made poor by divorce and the economy, becomes self-sufficient by learning to garden, raise chickens, and make household products in order to take care of her children. The title of this blog was a quote taken from the article.

I was struck by what a simple truth is it.

The quote reminded me of two instances of my life. The first being my life as a stay at home mom (SAHM) and Etsy shop owner. People ask me how I have time or think I am a Super Mom. I'm not. At all. I just do it because it needs to be done. I quit my job to raise my children. My husband and I agreed that while our children were young they should be home with one of their parents. I made less money, so that was me. But I also have an entrepreneurial itch and a need to create. So I make things and sell things. It keeps me happy and sane. Juggling it all is real a challenge though. I'll admit I filter my postings to make it seem more unicorns and rainbows than it always is. But I love what I do and I find reward in it. Too many people say they wish they could do things, but never do. Mostly they're just full of it. It you want something, make it happen. You just need to be hungry.

I was married to another guy before I met my husband. I married too young and settled when I shouldn't have. When I came to that realization I had to make a choice. Ending a marriage is quite a life disrupting experience. You think you know it before you do it and then you find out how disrupting it really is. I made the choice to leave my spouse and start from scratch anyways. I was hungry; starving even, and I was not about to waste the rest of my life. Starting again from zero was one of the best decisions I have ever made and one of the most difficult.

To each his own. If you are happy with your life, whatever it may be, great. If you need to make a change and you need help, I'm here for you. But if all you want to do it whine about it, I don't have the time to listen to you. Call me when you're hungry enough to do something about it.

Are you a Have or a Have-Not?

June 24, 2011

Tutorial: Kanzashi flowers

What you need:
Fabric (preferably a woven one that is thicker material)
Scissors or rotary cutter
Ruler or cutting guide
Iron and board
Straight pins
Needle and thread
Hot glue gun or fabric glue
Buttons, beads, embellishments

Cut your fabric into 4" squares. I recommend 3" ones if your going to use them for girl's hair accessories, but I'm making mine to embellish hats. Each square is one petal of your flower and each flower needs 5 petals.

Use your iron to press each square in half to make a triangle.

Next you're going to fold your petals. You will want to have your pins close by. With the top of your triangle pointing away from you, fold the left corner up to the top, bisecting it in half.

Then fold the right corner up to meet the left one, making a smaller square. Holding those folds in place, flip your new small square over keeping the raw fabric edges facing away from you so it is oriented like a diamond.

Fold the left and right corners evenly towards each other so that they touch and meet in the middle.

Fold the fabric together from right to left, sandwiching the points in the center.

Use a straight pin to push through your petal sandwich in the center, making sure to catch the 2 points in the middle.

Repeat the process until all your petals are folded and ready.

Using a sharp pair of scissors, cut the raw edged tail off of your petals. You want to cut close to the pin, but not exactly on top of it. Do not remove the pins yet.

Using your first cut petal as a guide, cut the rest of your petals so that they are the same length.

Use your needle and thread to sew 5 petals together. You want the needle to pass through where your pin is, so that it runs through all the folds and the center points sandwiched inside the petal. Remove the straight pins as you insert the needle.

I usually stack all 5 petals on the needle at once to keep the petals folded and then use a pair of pliers to pull the needle through all the layers of fabric. Then tie a knot to secure a loop of thread. You do not want to tie your loop tightly, otherwise you will not be able to position your petals and open them up properly.

Move your petals around so that they are in a flower shape. Use your thumb to press open the outer point of each petal.

Using your hot glue or fabric glue, put a small amount of glue between each petal to keep the petals from shifting around too much when in use. I also put some glue into the center of the petals from the back side of the flower. Next use a button, beads, covered button, or other embellishment to attach to the center of your kanzashi flower. I sew beads onto felt cut with pinking sheers for these flowers.

Use your kanzashi flowers on hair clips or headbands as they were traditionally worn by geishas. Or put them on hats, jackets or tshirts. You can also make kanzashi flowers out of paper. Make a sweet bouquet or wreath. I'd love to see pics of what ever you make. Email them to

June 22, 2011

Paint chip sample crafts

I'm the kind of person who when I make something I prefer to start with supplies that I already own. Mainly because I have a fair sized stock piles but I also can't help but think it a waste to go buy everything brand new. Handmade is only cheaper if you use what you have. If I need supplies for a project, then I go get them.

I'm quiet bothered by the recent surge of paint chip sample card crafts. I have seen tutorials for everything from napkin rings to holiday decorative banners. While there are never instructions on where or how to get these paint sample cards, we all know where to get them. You go to Home Depot or Lowes or your local paint store and you take them. Yes, you can buy sets of pain samples online, but I highly doubt anyone shells out the $30 for one. Especially because you don't get 25 of the same color.

Those cards are made and offered for free for the customers that are buying paint. They are free with the intention that you are taking a few to decide which color to paint your room and then you're coming back to buy some paint. They aren't there for you to take handfuls of all the red, white and blue ones so you can make a cutsie banner for your Fourth of July party. When you do that, it's called stealing. And I'm not going to sugar coat it.

As these type of crafts keep growing in popularity, paint stores are going to start having to charge people for them. And that makes me mad. Because when I want to go pick out paint colors for my kid's rooms I'm going to have to float the cost of all the sticky fingered craft thieves.

Stop stealing paint chip samples!

What's even more repugnant is that I'm willing to bet that the napkin rings and party banners go right into the trash at the end of the party. I bet they aren't even recycled, never mind saved for next year.

It's just not the kind of crafting I'm interested in.

June 21, 2011

Like a well oiled machine

Last week my sewing machine started squeaking. I of course ignored it. Until it got to the point of being really loud. I was trying to just finish an order and be done with it. Danny was home at the time and commented that it didn't sound good. And I should stop least I break my machine. Begrudgingly, I did.

All weekend I looked at my sewing machine on the table;knowing it needed oiling and not wanting to do it. Can't it just be magically done? Ugh. On Sunday I finally got out the tools, a brush to clean out lint (which I regularly do) and the mineral oil. Yeah, I don't have sewing machine oil. If my machine came with any it's long gone. And gone in a 'I lost it' sort of way, not an 'I used it all up' sort of way.

I've never oiled my sewing machine. My current machine is a Kenmore. It is the only sewing machine I've ever had new. I don't remember exactly when I got it, but I'm fairly certain I was still at the University of Rhode Island. Looking down at the date on my computer (because the older I get the more I can't remember what year it is,) I graduated from college ten years ago. Holy crap. I just did that math. Now not only am I feeling old, but I'm feeling really irresponsible for not oiling my sewing machine for 10 years.

My machine is apparently the last one Kenmore made without a computer in it. Which is fine by me. When they started talking about how in the future our houses would be run on a computer it just freaked me out. I was going to be the person trapped in my house because I couldn't get the windows open. Because my sewing machine is older, I couldn't find the exact manual for it, but found one close enough.

An hour later, after some foot stomping, Danny making me walk away and take a break, then Danny helping me. My machine was back together and squeak free. Sure there two extra screws. One of which I know where it goes, but it fell into the machine and won't come out. The other screw fell out of my machine while I was oiling it and I have no idea where it goes, but everything seems to be working just fine, so it's like my machine is more efficient without it, right?

Yesterday was the first day I did some serious sewing of orders. And I have to say, I'm a bit wowed. My sewing machine is a happy lady. She's sewing so smoothly. She's quiet and fast and not causing too many problems. And I'm struck to finally, really understand the idiom of 'working like a well oiled machine.' If you've never oiled your sewing machine, break out the manual (or the internet) and do it. You will be very pleased.

On a side note, I just mailed a custom Jack of All Trades Tool Roll. I'm excited because I've gotten a good response to them and have many custom requests. I can make them taller, longer, add more pockets, change the sizing of the pockets, and even added a pocket that snaps for smaller items. I'm excited my Tool Rolls are being used by graphic designers, wedding planners, crochet artists, and medical students so far!

If you have custom requests, please let me know.

If you've read this far, please leave me a comment. Tell me a time you 'fixed' something yourself. (I once took apart my bike to spray paint it and make it 'new.' It took me three days to put it back together. And it rained in the meantime, so I brought it all in the kitchen to keep working on. My ex-husband was not pleased I wouldn't let him help me. And I did have an extra screw leftover then too.)

June 16, 2011

Blog, breakfast, then some burns?

In an effort to promote my new Etsy shop ( I've been debating starting a new blog. I signed up to do an email newsletter, but have had very little response, and hell, I hate too many emails in my inbox too. So email newsletter goes on hold. And I decided I can stop procrastinating on making a new blog because I don't really need one. I'm just going to use the one I already have but have not been using so much recently.

Today's order production agenda is feather gluing. I have a headband to make as well as a peacock feather pad to make for a special order flapper newsboy hat. Hot glue and toddlers don't mix as well as other crafting does so I have to wait for Jane to nap.
All set up and ready to go.

Lucky for me, Jane asks to color. "Coloring? Coloring?" This means I have time to make myself a hot breakfast which is a rarity. Time and ingredients, but today I have both. WIN.

Jane has taken an intense focus on holding markers and pens like adults do. It's adorable how she'll spend a minute or two getting the marker exactly how she wants it in her hand. And every parents should have Crayola Color Wonder markers. They only color in the coloring book. Not on the tray, the table, the wall, etc. I'd like to kiss the inventor of these.

I boil water for some french pressed coffee. Toast an english muffin to perfection (just barely browning) and spread with cream cheese. Two eggs over very easy so as to cook the gross snotty whites but not the yolks and topped with cheddar cheese.

Plated on my new birthday present polka dot plate and mug. Oh man, it was so good. Tomorrow when I'm having cold cereal it will just feel sad in comparison.

As I'm polishing breakfast off Jane is giving me her universal signs for "I'm getting tired"; she's put her noni in her mouth and is petting her hair like it's the softest thing in the world. (And it really is.)

I'm tossing my dirty dishes in the sink, ignoring the clean, full dishwasher and taking the sleepy one upstairs for her nap. Spread out the latest load of laundry to dry then I'm on my way to the office, aka dining room table to do some crafting. I hope to not burn myself, but history repeats itself, so I'll just hope for a teentsy burn instead of an "oh crap, I put my entire finger in that fresh glop of hot glue then stared at it a while before wiping it off" kind of burn.

I can't wait until we're moved into our new house next month. Then I get to have a real office for crafting and business. And our family can have the dining room table back.

Topping off my coffee, then it's off to the glue gun for me!