Friday, April 30, 2010

Stretch Marks Don't Wipe Off

Mission: Get skinny and have toned arms by next Sunday.
Why? Because we're going to a wedding and I believe I'll be wearing a sleeveless dress. Also, my own kid called me fat.
It's true.

Here's how the conversation went:
I'm sitting in a chair, and my muffin top may be slightly hanging out from under my shirt. Enter the 3-year-old.
Carly: "Mommy, you bad girl!"
Me: "What are you talking about?"
Carly: "You drew on you with marker!"
Me: "What are you talking about?"

She points to my.. uh.. butt/side/tummy/hip roll. Indeed, there were purplish streaks running up and down.
Me: "Honey, that's not marker. Those are stretch marks."
Carly: *confused look* "I'll wipe it off."
What could I do but let her scrub at my fat roll with a baby wipe?

I can get rid of the fat roll, that's what I can do! 
After I finish eating this bucket of Triple Ginger Cookies my sister-in-law made for me. Hey, the faster I eat them the faster I can get skinny, right?
Also, I plan to play DDR every night and do my NYC Ballet workout DVD. I even made Douglas do it with me last week. (Men trying to plie = Also a great workout for your abs! From laughing, get it? Get it?) The DDR game has a calorie counting feature, so based on my height and weight I can burn about 300 calories in an hour. I don't know if that's good or bad, but it sure is fun!

Oh, and I bought a pair of these:

Ok yes they're ugly, but they work great! They're Skechers Shape-Ups, and they are brutal. To a wuss like me anyway. Even just wearing them around my little apartment makes me super sore. They're really comfortable though.

So here's why I want to get toned, Exhibit A:

Aaaand Exhibit B:

Those are the two dresses from which I'm trying to choose for the wedding. Actually, we're going to two weddings this spring so I could wear both, but I'm not really sure about the black one. It's graceful and elegant and classy, but is it old-lady-ish? Black isn't really my thing. 
I looove the yellow one, but it's so tight I can barely breathe. It was on sale plus 30% off because there were loose stitches around the belt, which I can totally fix. Although that makes it non-returnable, so I have to fit into it. (And those aren't the shoes I'm planning to wear, but the first ones I could reach in that dress without ripping more stitches!)

What do you guys think?

Thursday, April 29, 2010

My Life In A Pie Chart: Fail

I decided to cut Handmade Wedding Week a bit short, because apparently nobody cares about weddings. And because I have other things to focus on, like the SIX custom orders I have waiting. Eeek! So excited about that. 
I think today I'm going to get a big ol piece of posterboard and make a giant schedule for myself. I'm very much into lists, schedules, and charts. I get a weird satisfaction out of tracking progress on Google Analytics. I wish I had that for my life. I have to get control of my life, hopefully by sticking to a daily schedule. So here's what I want to fit into my week:
  • Bible reading/study
  • Homeschooling my kid
  • Keeping my kitchen clean
  • Visiting my grandparents
  • Exercise
  • Stocking my etsy shop
The key here is going to be not sleeping until 10am every day. I try really, really hard to wake up at like seven, but usually I sleep right through my alarm. I think maybe a big part of that is the Celexa. I was supposed to be totally off it by the beginning of March, but I'm still struggling at 2mg. It's amazing how completely wacked out the lack of a little pinhead-sized chunk of a pill can make me.

And yeah, I said homeschooling up there. I haven't talked a lot about that on here because I'm getting a lot of mixed reactions so far. My daughter just turned three, but I'd like to get her in a routine of quietly completing classwork for a certain amount of time throughout the week. We also plan to put her in a weekly class outside of home, like an art activity or dance class. For the home classes, I'm going to start with something she already loves: art. Here's the result of our first "art class" this week:

Those are supposed to be recycled crayons. You know, where you melt down the old broken crayon bits in muffin cups? I don't know what I did wrong. When Douglas came home, he saw the green one on the floor and thought it was an ancient Reeses Cup haha!
I bought her a couple little workbooks for pre-kindergarten. She has a dry-erase board with printed letters for tracing and she absolutely loves that thing. She can name all the letters and write a few by herself, so I think she'll really like the workbooks.

Now the thing with the etsy shop is difficult. My goal is to make enough money to cover whatever my husband's income doesn't. Like, toilet paper and feeding the ravenous apartment washing machine with an obscene amount of quarters. My child support from my ex-husband is going to be drastically reduced in June, so I need to start making about $200 profit per month by then. Ha! I'm at a point where I'm struggling to keep up with the custom orders I have, but... where's my $200? *sigh* I need professional help.
In more ways than one.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Handmade Tissue Paper Flowers and Pompom Garland

You'd think after making hundreds of these for my wedding, I'd be completely sick of them. But I can't help it, I love them so much! I'm a little sad that I didn't save a bouquet of paper flowers from my wedding, but I never thought I'd want to see them again. So I made some for home, only this time as a garland...

...And as bedroom decor...

...And maybe I couldn't resist making just a few little blossoms...

Want to make some? It's so easy!

Tissue paper
Heavy-duty scissors
Floral wire

Make sure you use a pair of scissors that you don't mind ruining, because they're going to take a serious beating here. Floral wire can be found at any craft store, or even at Walmart for $1.99. Before we get started, I'm gonna lay out exactly how much paper you'll need to make the project you want. I'm using the American Greetings brand as a standard, but cheaper tissue paper can sometimes come in different sizes and amounts.
For a package of 20" x 25" tissue paper, 8 sheets:

Large flowers (Peonies): 16 per pack
Small flowers (Carnations): 32 per pack
Mini pompoms (Garland): 8 per pack
Small pompoms: 2 per pack
Medium pompoms: 1 per pack*
Large pompoms: 1 per pack

*There will be enough paper leftover from a medium pompom to make flowers or mini pompoms

The flowers are easiest, so lets start there.
For each flower, you'll need to cut about 6" of wire.

Spread the tissue paper out horizontally on the floor or a large table.
Cut a strip up the short side about 6" wide. It doesn't have to be exact.

Now cut the removed strip in half through the width, so you have two 10" x 6" pieces.

Then separate four layers from each side.

Now you have four stacks, which will each make a flower.
Using one of the stacks, begin at one of the long ends and make a horizontal fold, about an inch wide.

Flip the stack over and fold again, like an accordion.

When you're finished folding, it should look like this. Don't worry if the folds don't match up perfectly, or if your last fold was not an even width with the rest of them. No big deal.

Now cut rounded corners through all the layers on each long end. You could also cut points. Personally I think it looks prettier rounded, but whichever. Oh, and do this over a trash can or something, because it gets really messy! If you're having a hard time getting the scissors through all the layers, you can do half at a time. The cuts don't need to match up perfectly either.

Next, cut two little triangle wedges from the center of each side in the middle, like this:

These notches will make it easier to fold the petals out toward the center.
Now wrap your floral wire around the center of the strip, through the notches. If you're making a flower, fold it evenly in half.

Twist the wire around like a bread tie.
Now comes the fun part- Folding!

You can start on one side and alternate back and forth to the other side as you go, or you can fold all of one side and then all of the other. When making the flowers, it doesn't really matter.

Fan out one side as best you can with your left hand, and try to keep them spread out as you gently peel the topmost layer of one side up towards the center. Begin at one edge and work across to the other, shaping the "petals" up as you go.

Here's what it looks like at half finished:

And here's completed!
To make the smaller flower, which looks more like a carnation than a peony, cut the stacks in half lengthwise.

The rest of the steps are the same.
Here's what the flowers look like when the ends are cut at points, on the left:

And here's what they look like cut rounded, on the right:

If you want to put your flowers in a bouquet, you'll need floral tape and wire stems. Just twist your floral wire around the stems, then cover with tape. So easy.

Now the pompoms are pretty much the same thing, just twice as much.
To make the mini pompoms: Instead of splitting the 10" x 6" stacks in half, keep them at eight sheets.
When you fold the wire around the middle, don't fold it in half. Fold over just enough for twisting. The part that sticks out will be folded over to make a loop for hanging.

Folding is pretty much the same as for a flower, but it works better if you alternate sides instead of doing an entire side at a time. This way the pompom stays an even sphere.

If you think of the pompom as hemispheres with the wire being the north pole, you'll fold the northeast and southeast away from each other first. Then follow with the northwest and southwest folded away from each other.

Here's the pompom half folded:

And here's what it looks like when the folding is finished:

Wrap the wire around to make a loop for hanging, and fluff the petals up around to hide it.

For small pompoms, cut an full pack of tissue paper in half for two 12" x 10" stacks:

For medium pompoms, start with a full pack. Cut off a 6" strip. Use the remaining stack.

For large pompoms, use the entire pack.

String some clear fishing line through the loops and hang or tie into a garland:

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Wedding Week: Handmade Decorations

This was the collage I made when I was planning my wedding. I love the vintage style, the combination of different shades of pink and turquoise with gold and silver, and lots of feathers.

I first saw these gorgeous tissue paper pompoms on Martha Stewart's wedding website. I bought a pompom kit and a tissue paper flower kit at the craft store. I thought it would be cheaper to make all the flowers for the centerpieces with the kits, but even with the weekly coupons, it would have been like $200 to have one bouquet for each table! No way. 
Once I worked through the first kit, I bought a roll of florist wire and I cleaned out all the stores in a 15-mile radius who sold pink and turquoise tissue paper. Fortunately, there is a wholesale craft supply store in the area selling tissue paper packs for fifty cents, so I was able to make several hundred flowers and pompoms.

Here's me pre-ceremony helping to decorate the tables:

Even the napkin rings were made of tissue paper! I folded two napkins together and wrapped a mini pompom/flower around them. Each plate had a little tiny menu showing through from underneath. I printed them out on hot pink paper and cut them into squares. After my poor hands cramped from cutting scallops around the edges, my dad took over and finished them the night before the wedding.

Each table had one of four kinds of vases with a bouquet. There were clear bud vases, big pink round vases, vintage milk glass bud vases, and turquoise bowl vases. Each bouquet had all different shades of pink pompom flowers and a few glitter feathers in gold, silver, and pink.

I bought dozens of vintage crystal punch glasses from a thrift store, and we used them for tea light candles on the tables. I also rounded up photos of weddings from my family and Doug's family and framed them with scrapbook paper, ribbon, and tiny flower and jewel embellishments. I wrote their names on the back and we set them on the tables as decorations. They matched the handmade invitations, and I think the guests had a good time going from table to table to see all the different photos.

I worked on the tissue paper pompoms and flowers for months before the wedding. I even took them with me to work and cut the pieces while I was on the phone (I answered phones for a credit card company.) By the time the wedding came around, my bedroom was completely stuffed with pompoms! The week before the wedding, I had a little pompom-making party and my bridesmaids helped me put the bouquets together.

I said I never wanted to see tissue paper again for the rest of my life!
But after a year, I think I'm over it. Come back tomorrow for a tissue paper flower/pompom/garland tutorial. They make great decorations for a party or around the house!