amandajocrafts

March 11, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — amandajocrafts @ 2:58 pm

Originally posted on le zoe musings:

Here’s a giveaway that’s too precious and cute to pass up…

giveawayUp for grabs are TWO handmade crochet animal dolls. Two winners will be chosen. Each winner will win either a crochet kitty(as seen above) retail at $23 or a large octopus as seen here, retail at $34!

kittyYour little ones will LOVE these animal dolls! Aunts and grandmas- don’t forget about your nieces, nephews, and grandkids!  The kitty is so perfect for a girl and any boy would adore the octopus.

Here’s something extra special- you can CUSTOM SELECT the colors of the animal doll for your little one.

GIVEAWAY ENTRY GUIDELINES:

1. You must be a follower of LZM and like LZM on Facebook.

2. Leave a comment sharing which animal doll would be perfect for your little one!

ENTRY DEADLINE- MONDAY MARCH, 18TH MIDNIGHT EASTERN TIME. THE WINNERS (chosen at random) WILL…

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March 4, 2013

Zoey’s Handmade Crochet Kitty

Filed under: Uncategorized — amandajocrafts @ 10:05 am

amandajocrafts:

I’m proud to say that one of amandajocrafts’ creations was featured on le zoe musings today! Come and check it out!

Originally posted on le zoe musings:

Zoey has never been attached to stuffed animals. Truthfully, I wished that wasn’t the case because I would like for her to find a ‘comfort’ friend to hug and love aside from mommy’s left hip. I always thought that maybe she was too young to appreciate and embrace new friends. 

Or maybe… she’s just playing hard to get.

I’m happy to share that things has changed. Lately, Zoey has been loving her monkeys, dogs, and most recently, her handmade crochet kitty.

kitty5The talented maker of this crochet kitty is Amanda from AmandaJoCrafts. If you knew all of Amanda’s pursuits, you would think that she’s superwoman…

A full-time office assistant by day, a full-time Master’s student in Writing and Publishing by night, AND an all-time creator of Amandajocrafts, her etsy store where you can find anything from crocheted teddy bears to lacey scarves to Victorian-styled fingerless gloves!

kitty

Zoey was…

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January 16, 2013

On Wanting What My Grandparents Have.

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , , — amandajocrafts @ 12:26 pm

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Today’s is my grandparents’ fifty-ninth wedding anniversary.

My pap is also in the ICU today, as he had a heart attack earlier this week. Please send your prayers along to him and my gram.

I’ve been thinking about them a lot lately, as I’ve been thinking about my own upcoming marriage (just about seven months to go, now) to the love of my life. He and I talk all the time about how we just want to be sitting on the front porch together in Adirondack chairs at eighty years old, sipping lemonade and watching our great-grandchildren play in the front yard. This is what my grandparents have.

I know a lot about the “facts” of their courtship, way back in the day, as I somehow managed to swing my long-ago high school senior project into being a scrapbook of them from the years they dated. (I fluffed up some great talk about the importance of legacy in family, grandparents in children’s lives, and learning about the past. Best. Project. Ever.) I know that my pap was in the Coast Guard, as he tried to enlist in both the Army and the Navy during the war, and they were so full they wouldn’t let him in! I know Gram claims she wasn’t bothered by him enlisting. (Now, I just keep thinking about how devastated I would be if my fiance were to sign himself up and go to the Middle East–it hurts just thinking about it. That’s a brave life, and I’m not brave enough for that.) She says “that’s just what everybody did.” I know he got stationed at Atau, Alaska, for a year. It’s a small outpost, and there were only about a dozen men and a dog.

I know silly, so-very-important details, like how Pap had to do his Pre-Cana (Catholic marriage prep) as a correspondence course because he was in the Coast Guard at the time. I know Gram once forgot the hot dogs when they went on a picnic with another couple who was close friends with them. (Pap said they just made toast for lunch with the hot dog buns they did bring.) I know they used to go dancing at the fire hall. I know Gram liked to do cartwheels.

I know that the personalities I see as their granddaughter really weren’t all that different when they were in their teens. She’s always smiling, always positive, always been a talker, and is very social. He’s more reserved, slightly mischievous, and quieter. But they work together, oh so well. It takes just a second to see how much they love each other.

Luckily, Pap has always enjoyed taking pictures, and so our family has a bunch of photos of the two of them from awhile ago. It’s so fun to see the same small smirk and intense eyes on my pap then, as I see now, and that identical beaming grin on my gram’s face.

People get older. I know this. And people get sick sometimes. I’m acutely aware of this fact, as well. But I also know how incredibly special that bond is between two people who are truly, honestly, in love with each other. Fifty-nine years worth of in love, and a legacy of five children, thirteen grandchildren, and an ever-growing number of great-grandchildren.

There are a lot of awful, sad things in this world that keep many people from hitting fifty-nine years together. Sometimes, when I read too much news coverage, it actually feels like a small miracle that any couple can get there at all. I’m selfish; I want that miracle for my fiance and myself, too.

Every single day you get to hold that person’s hand, every day you get to open your eyes and see them there, every single good night kiss, those are all miracles.

So, happy anniversary, Gram and Pap, and I’m praying for your big 60 next year.

January 10, 2013

On Etching Glass.

I’ve been so excited to share this for awhile now, but I’ve had to wait because this was a Christmas gift. I saw this glass etching awhile ago on Pinterest, and I decided to give it a real shot for presents this year!

If you’re looking for something crafty, unique, and useful, with a nice, personal touch, then this is the project for you!

Just FYI, I used this tutorial as a baseline for my project; however, I do not have a fancy Cricut cutter, so my tutorial is a little bit different. If you have a Cricut cutter, head on over to the original tutorial, but if you don’t, stick here with me!

Materials:

  • The glass to etch (I used Kinetic glasslock containers on Amazon). They worked really well, but note that the dimensions listed on Amazon aren’t accurate, so they were smaller than I thought! When they say 30 oz, they mean the container’s weight, not what it holds.
  • Etching cream. I bought mine from Michael’s (a Martha Stewart brand) but a friend of mine used Armour Etch and that also worked great. Just be sure you’re buying an etching cream, not just something that’s going to sit on the surface of the glass.
  • Brush (that you don’t mind throwing away). My etching cream actually came with one.
  • Clear contact paper. I also got this from Michael’s–one roll lasted me for 16 different containers, so don’t worry about it not being enough! Clear is useful for tracing, which we’ll get to later.
  • X-acto knife. I started with scissors and an epic fail. Spending the couple bucks for the X-acto knife is worth it!
  • Latex gloves.
  • A computer and printer.

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How-To:

1) On the computer, open Microsoft Word (or any other program with different font options) and type in what you eventually want on the glass). Size it so it’s the size you want on the glass, and print it out.

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2) Put this piece of paper behind your contact paper and trace it, so that the words are now on the contact paper. It’s going to be a little hard to see, but you’re just getting it down on the contact paper so that you know where you’re going to cut.

3) Cut out the letters on the contact paper. (This is going to take some time; be patient!)

There are a couple things you need to remember when doing this:

  • Using the example above, anything black is what is getting cut out. That means that you don’t want a bunch of cut marks on the part in white, because the etching cream might get through it.
  • If you have letters that have closed circles in them (A, B, D, O, etc.) you need to keep those tiny pieces. In the example above, that font allows for the “a” and “e” to just be completely filled in, but most fonts don’t do that. By keeping those little circles, you can get the letters more accurate.

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When you’re finished cutting it out, set the cut-out aside for a moment. Also, if you’re doing more than one glass piece, I would recommend cutting everything out first, and then etching everything together.

4) Clean off the piece of glass with soap and water, and dry it well. This will help the contact paper stick better.

5) Carefully take off the backing of the contact paper and place the stencil on your glass. Be sure that all bubbles are smoothed over and that the contact paper is completely sealed flush onto the glass. Any sneaky bubbles or loose edges will let the etching cream get underneath.

6) (Put your gloves on.) Brush the etching cream on the glass. Obviously, you don’t have to be exact here (that’s why the contact paper is there!) so just make sure to get the exposed glass that you want etched.

7) Leave the etching cream on for 15-20. If you pay attention, you can actually watch the cream kind of slide off the contact paper and head toward the glass part.

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8) (Put your gloves on.) Rinse off the etching cream under water. This works best if you use a gloved finger and wipe at the cream, making sure that when it comes off the glass, it ends up down the drain, and not just on another part of the glass. Once all the etching cream is off, peel off the contact paper, and rinse again for good measure.

Voila–you now have a lovely, etched piece of glassware!

Also, you can always put something in the glassware to add an extra touch. For my inlaws to be, I bought dishtowels on Etsy. For the office, I put cookies in :)

January 8, 2013

On A Favorite Things Party.

As promised, here are the details from the best ever favorite things party!

I am very blessed to be part of a group of seven friends who are so very dear to me. We’ve all been friends since high school, and through college, and now the “real world,” we’ve really stayed close. We thought having a favorite things party with all of us would be the perfect way to celebrate Christmas!

Our party has a Christmas theme to it, from the wrapping paper and gift bags to the decorations. We made a corner of the room into the food and gift area. In order to make it look particularly festive, we wrapped the card table with wrapping paper, wrapped the frames (which normally have pictures of the Rat Pack!) with wrapping paper, and hung Christmas bulbs from the ceiling.

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The gift table got a festive streamer on the front of it.

party - presents table

At the fireplace, we hung tissue paper balls on either side, and (the piece de resistance!) a “Merry Christmas” banner my friend Keri made. Doesn’t it look so professional! (and adorable!)

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We all brought our favorite appitizers and desserts. Six layer dip, queso dip, cookies, brownies, devil’s food cupcakes, and mozzarella sticks. A vast majority of this got eaten!

party - food

To start off the night, we played the Favorite Things Game. It’s just like Scattegories–you have a list of favorite things to fill in. Then, you go around and see what everyone had for an answer. If you had the same thing as someone else, you cross it off. The person with the most “unique” answers (answers that no one else had) at the end of the game wins!

fav things

(I can tell you, this took a long time to play–we kept getting distracted by everyone’s favorite things! And then, when we got to the book question, we spent a half hour talking about good books we should all read :) )

Then, for the best part of the night–our Favorite Things! We had seven people, and we each brought 3 $10 gifts, so we each got three gifts. To pick, we wrote our name on a piece of paper three times and put them all in a cup. Once they were all in there, we each drew out three pieces of paper, and we received gifts from those people.

Here is a list of what everyone’s favorite things were:

  • Hanging out with all of us: this was a goody box with things we all loved to do together! It included a coupon code for a free RedBox movie, an old-fashioned Coke bottle, a mini-bottle of wine, a travel game (either Apples to Apples or Uno), and M&Ms.
  • Staying warm! This one was a gift bag full of super cozy Old Navy fuzzy socks, and a pair of fuzzy slippers, as well!
  • Staying warm, again! Yes, two girls had the same favorite thing–we really are quite alike! This one had a mug (either dogs, cats, or birds on it, because she loves animals), a pair of socks, and her favorite tea.
  • Nail Care Kit, and then some: This one embodied quite a few different favorite things! It was her favorite nail polish brand in one of her favorite colors (OPI, dark purple), with a buffer block (4 different sides to the block, for filing, buffing, shining, etc.), and cotton balls. It came in a wine glass (because she likes drinking wine), which had a quote from J.K. Rowling on it in puffy paint: “The stories we love best live in us forever.”
  • Cake Pop Maker: This one is pretty self-explanatory :) but for backstory, the girl who brought it is a fantastic baker, and she loves making us fun treats!
  • Wine Glass: She loves drinking wine, wearing shoes, and the color pink…so the wine glass had a pair of pink shoes painted on it! Pretty perfect combo here!
  • Writer’s Essential’s Kit: Yes, you guessed it, this one was mine :). I finally picked what I wanted to do! (Click here if you want to see what other things I was considering.) This one had a pen, a mini-notebook (courtesy of skeldesign on Etsy) and a mug (because you need a hot beverage to write your best!). On each mug, I wrote a different quote about books using a paint pen that you bake to make it stay on. (Look for the tutorial soon!)

Here are all our favorite things together:

party - gifts

What a wonderful night, and what wonderful friends!

December 20, 2012

On the Woes (and the Woeful) USPS.

Each day at work, as the woman at the front desk, I receive the mail from our mail carrier. It always comes wrapped in two huge rubber bands, even when it’s just a couple pieces of mail. I chuckle at it, chuck them in my top drawer, and proceed with sorting the mail.

Yesterday I had some extra time on my hands, so I was organizing that top drawer. I put all the paper clips in their place, arranged the binder clips, made sure I had enough replacement staples on hand, checked my tape stock. Then, I got to my mound of industrial-size rubber bands.

I’ll make them into a rubber band ball, I thought.

(This is not my personal rubber band ball.)

I’ve always wanted to try one. Well, as I was creating this every growing ball-o-rubber, it occured to me that this was yet another mark of how the USPS is woefully inefficient.

Nevermind that I’ve been fruitlessly on hold with them more times than I can count for various shipping and (non)receiving reasons. Nevermind that each person I talk to–from our carrier, to the local post office, to the corporate post office–has a different “rule” on how I’m supposed to do package pickup, and what qualifies for a pickup. Nevermind that my residential mail carrier has often not dropped off a package because “no one was at home”…even though I’m in an apartment building that makes a point to always keep someone at the front desk who receives packages.

Nope–it was the rubber bands that did it.

I looked it up, and the average carrier makes 500 stops, so let’s go with that number. If we assume my office’s mail carrier has two rubber bands on each batch of mail to each stop on his route, that’s 1000 rubber bands that are being distributed by the USPS per day for this one route alone. Over the span of a month, that’s 30,000 rubber bands.

On Walmart.com (the cheapest place I can always think of), rubber bands like those are $2.78 for a pack of 185. (I’m not a math person, so bear with me now.) If we assume a wholesale price of $1.00 per 185 (and I’m being generous here), that means that, per month, the USPS is spending $162 on rubber bands for our one mail carrier’s route alone. That’s $1945 per year, just for this ONE route, devoted to rubber bands.

The funny part? The rubber bands don’t really help–we often get the wrong mail thrown in there.

What if they only used one rubber band instead of two? What if our mail carrier took them off before handing the mail to me, and just threw them back into his bag to be reused?

Just saying :)

December 18, 2012

On The Hobbit…and CGI vs. Humans.

Filed under: On Observing. — Tags: , , , , , , , — amandajocrafts @ 1:20 pm

*Geek warning* :)

Well, I went to get see The Hobbit on Friday. I did the “lame version”–no 3D, no HFR, just a good ol’ screen and a packed theater.

Backtracking, I loved the Lord of the Rings movies. They are my favorite series of books (yes, I read them before the movies came out), and I was impressed with how excellently they were rendered on screen. Yes, it was more dramatic at points, yes, I missed Tom Bombadil like crazy, and yes, I know the elves don’t actually come to help at Helm’s Deep. But I thought the essence was there, the feel the stories were still richly alive, and Peter Jackson made beautiful sense out of books that were certainly unusual, as far as the arch of a story goes.

So, I wasn’t sure what to expect when I saw The Hobbit. I read some very mixed reviews beforehand, which only made me more confused. Some people thought there were too much time spent on the dwarves; others felt they weren’t characterized enough. Some felt that the movie was too long; others were okay with that. Some felt it was too lighthearted; others thought it was too serious for what was orginally a childen’s story.

I ended up taking umbridge with none of these debates. I liked the dwarves and thought they did a good job balancing the characterization with keeping the movie flowing. Yes, it was a really long movie–I pissed off our theater neighbors by creeping out of our aisle after Gollum’s scene to go pee (which, on a side note, was kind of sad, because that was the best moment of the whole film and I spent those ten minutes doing a seated rendition of the potty dance)–and I thought some of it could have been moved to the extended special edition on video, where I could have paused the movie and peed before Gollum came onscreen. Finally, I liked the balance between the light tone of the episodic dwarf quest and the dark undertone of brewings that would eventually come to fruition in LOTR.

What hit me the most, and frankly, made me sad, was how much CGI Peter Jackson used throughout the movie. Most notable was Azog, the albino orc nemesis of Thorin, being heavily CGIed (in a Gollum-type fashion). While I was fine with the additional pieces to this saga (seriously, can’t give me too much of Middle Earth…except maybe Radagast. He discredited all the scenes he was in by being, and looking, so stupid!) it drove me BATTY that he was all CGI. Every time I saw him, I could TELL he was CGI, and it threw me out of the world entirely. For example, compare him to the main Uruk-hai (who kills Boromir) from LOTR Part 1 (sorry I couldn’t find better pics!):

Azog (left-most orc)

Uruk-Hai

Just because the CGI technology is out there doesn’t mean you have to use it for everything possible–the most effective movies are the ones where it’s integrated with the real, not replacing it. By putting an actual person through the process of makeup, you actually get something so much more realistic. And really, it’s not just Azog, it’s the whole movie that has this issue. Orcs are now all CGI, sets are all CGI, and it feels as though the integration of real and CGI was rushed. Honestly, I thought that LOTR, from ten years before, had better special effects.

So, this is certainly an enjoyable movie for those who would like to traverse back into Middle Earth, but it’s missing some crucial magic that’s keeping it from excellence. I’ll probably still buy the extended version when it comes out on DVD (let’s face it, you know there will be an extended version), but I can tell you that, at the end of the movie, all I wanted to do was watch LOTR to see how it should be done. And I did watch it right after, and it was much, much better.

December 17, 2012

On a Crafty Weekend!

Filed under: On Creating. — Tags: , , , , , , , , , — amandajocrafts @ 11:36 am

I got my craft on this weekend!

First, after a stalled-out Etsy shop (slow times happen to me at the weirdest times!), I got two orders in two days! The first was a pair of fingerless gloves, which are always fun to make.

The other was for a custom kitten! Not just any kitten though–there’s a bit of a story behind this one. Apparently, there is (or was) an online game called “Glitch.” The developers are taking the game down, and someone was interested in having a crocheted version of the cat character from this game, called “Heli Kitteh.” They showed me a screen shot from the game of the kitten, and I got to work! The recipient loved it, and I already got another order for it!

Also, I can’t post pics yet because I also did this craft for some relatives who have not received it yet (don’t want to spoil the surprise!) but I did 10 gifts for everyone at my office, AND baked cookies for them! Due to a miscommunication with the notes on my cookie recipe, I misjudged how many cookies the recipe would make, and instead of getting 160, like I expected, I got 260 cookies! (Needless to say, there are a LOT in the freezer now!) All of that took up most of the weekend, but it was certainly worth it–I love my workplace and everybody I work with, so I was more than happy to share the joy!

Finally, I wrapped all the finace’s gifts! He has a nice little pile under our tree now :).

Have you been crafty this weekend?

December 13, 2012

On DIY Mania…Post-Christmas.

Let’s all just start by admitting that Pinterest is addictive.

Helpful, yes. Interesting, yes. A fantastic way to share things with my best friends regarding style, wedding, and clothing ideas, even though they’re states away? Yes.

However, it also awakens a (not so latent) need to always be creative. I want to make everything. And so the DIY Pinterest board began.

Since it’s Christmastime and I certainly won’t have the time for myself before the big day comes along (let’s ignore the fact that I go back to school in January, and therefore probably won’t have time after Christmas, anyway), I have a little list of DIY projects for myself once the new year begins. (And side note, 2013, really? Where has the time gone? In my head, when I calculate years that have passed, I still always assume it’s 2000 for some reason. 2013 just sounds strange…like we’re all in a sci-fi movie….which is making me want to watch Firefly…getting off track now, I know.)

So, here’s my DIY list for the new year:

Crochet Hook Holder

This really does not look that hard, although there was no attached tutorial in the pin I found. I have a sewing machine, seems like you buy some material, a little lace, and go to town! (Ask me if I feel this way when I actually attempt it. My sewing machine and I do not always see eye-to-eye.)

Knitted Lace Socks

(Pattern here.)

I have had these on my pinboard…well…just about since I got a Pinterest account. I actually took a step forward and bought the yarn for them the last time I was at Michael’s, but with the push to add items in my Etsy shop for Christmas, I just haven’t gotten around to working on something for myself. (In that respect, my scarf hat is still right where it was when I last blogged about it, as well. I know…it’s going to be spring before I get my act together. The fiance keeps telling me I have to actually do something for myself for a change. Gotta get around to that :))

Canvas Shoes

These just look really cool. Another Etsy blogger, the awesome Vivid Please, supplied a tutorial for these awhile back, and darned if I just haven’t gotten around to it. I will in the new year, I swear!

Mason Jar Herb Garden

 

I’d like to do a variation on this. My fiance and I get a lot of tea in the really pretty tins you see at Trader Joe’s and Giant Eagle Market District, and I won’t let him just throw the tins away because they’re so cute! (Yes, I have a cute clutter problem.) I think this would be a great way to reuse them, and a great alternative to having them sitting on a table somewhere, because we are just out of room!

Well, that’s my list for now :). I’m trying to keep it manageable so I’ll actually get to it! If you want to check out everything else I’ve been thinking of, come on over to my Pinterest DIY board.

Do you have any DIY lined up?

December 11, 2012

On Some Things to Look Forward To.

I got busy with my hook this weekend and started two new patterns for two exciting things to come in the shop!

The first is a pair of boot cuffs. This pattern was more challenging to create than I had expected. First, I’m not the best mannequin for them, because I think my calves run slightly larger than your average calf (all those years of dance class!). Second, I wanted a good blend between an interesting pattern and something that didn’t take forever to work up. I’m pretty happy with the way they turned out! (And, of course, I had to add a bit of scalloping at the top :))

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Second, I hopped on the start of a newish bandwagon–move over moustaches, peter pan collars are up next! I’ve loved the look of a peter pan collar on cardigans and blouses for a good long time now, and then I started seeing some necklaces that mimic that design. Well, I took it a step further and crocheted a peter pan collar! I absolutely love the way it turned out–the pattern kind of fell right into place naturally, without much redoing on my part to get it the way I wanted it. I’ve ordered some great buttons for it, so I just have to wait for them to come in to start listing on Etsy!

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What were you working on this weekend?

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