amandajocrafts

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 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 10, 2012

On Mondays and Making Smiles.

Filed under: On Observing. — Tags: , , , , , , — amandajocrafts @ 1:36 pm

Sometimes, you just need a Monday pick-me-up.

If you’re feeling that way, here’s a photographic list of silly, pointless, goofy (and one or two serious) things that are making me smile today:

1) This T-Shirt (discovered by my future sister-in-law):

2) These people, who are clearly having a bad day. (I know it’s bad, but if you can laugh at yourself because you did something stupid, you can also laugh at other people for doing something stupid. Just don’t get mad when they laugh back at you.)

3) Ron’s emotional range (just re-watched this one last night):

4) The knowledge that my fiance is a really awesome person and the antithesis of this:

(But, in seriousness, a great, practical article on how to make a marriage thrive.)

5) This baby:

6) The way my best friends and I play board games:

7) Christmas Joy. This was my Amazon shopping cart this weekend for a Toys for Tots drive. I got warm fuzzies just thinking of the recipients of those bears!
toys for tots

8) My favorite minions:

9) I’ve been doing this for the past two weeks, and I feel fantastic!

10) This viral Facebook post, which has been floating around all day today:

“I know today is Monday and you assume it’s going to suck, but according to statistics, there will be over 5,000 weddings, 10,000 childbirths, and 42 million hugs occurring today throughout the United States. Also today, there will be at least 4 people that will win the multimillion dollar lotteries, 600 people will get promotions at work, and 3,000 people will lose their virginity. There will also be 600 dogs adopted, 35,000 balloons sold, and 800,000 skittles eaten. Plus, the words “I love you” will be said over 9 million times. So again, I know today is Monday and you assume it’s going to suck, but just smile, because according to statistics, it should actually be a really nice day.”

What’s making you smile today?

December 5, 2012

On Prepping for a Favorite Things Party.

Yes, like Oprah 🙂

As I mentioned in my last post about the Harry Potter party, my friends really like being crafty. We routinely have themed parties, and when we all lived in the same state, we’d scrapbook together often. This year for Christmas, we decided a favorite things party would be the perfect twist on the traditional grab bag and we could have lots of fun in the process :).

In short, a favorite things party is where you bring your favorite things! For us, we chose to bring 3 $10 favorite things (as in, we bought/made three of the same gift, spending about $10 on each one). We’ll pull names out of a hat to see who gets who’s gifts.

I had a smidgen of trouble coming up with my favorite thing. These are my oldest, dearest friends (we’ll be celebrating our deccenial friendaversary this year…..long story) and so nothing I pick would really be a surprise. In addition, although I was supposed to bring MY favorite thing, I certainly wanted the recipients to enjoy it, as well! And, of course, I wanted to be cute and crafty.

However, I ended up deciding on something I’m really excited about, and you’ll get to see it after our favorite things party! For now, here’s some things I ended up NOT picking…just in case you’re looking for ideas yourself!

1) A book.

(I nixed this because I wanted to be more creative, but reading is certainly one of my favorite things!)

– Book (Perhaps The Night Circus?)

– Bookmark

2) Pamper Your Hands

– Nail polish.

– Hand lotion. My favorite scent is Bath and Body Works’ “Twilight Woods”:

– Nail file

3) Crocheting

(Had to nix this because the coupon for a tutorial wouldn’t have been effective, as I live states away from the rest of my friends at the moment!)

– Yarn

– Crochet Stitch Markers

– Coupon for crochet lessons from your truly

4) Pittsburgh

(My home town. Need I say more?)

– I didn’t have the details of this one quite figured out, but I thought perhaps a mug and ornament that both had the city skyline (or the Steelers!) on them.

5) Organization Lover

– Made a DIY to-do frame, using the tutorial here:

– A 2013 calendar, with photos of my friends and me in it.

6) My Friends

(Cheesy, but they’re my favorite, too!)

– A 3 4×6 opening frame with pictures of us inside through the years of our friendship.

Have you ever done a favorite things party? What would be your favorite thing?

November 29, 2012

On Supporting Handmade.

Oh Christmas!

I’m not one for getting swept up in the commercialism of the season, but boy oh boy do I love giving gifts! You heard me right–my favorite part of gifting is not the receiving, but the look of delight on someone’s face at Christmas that lets me know I got them just the right thing. It’s all about making people happy 🙂

This Christmas, as I’ve done for the past couple of years now, I’m doing my best to gift handmade and support small businesses. Of course, I definitely bought stuff (with coupons!) from big stores (Kohls and I are best buds), but at the same time, I’m making a concentrated effort to support handmade whenever possible!

It’s definitely worth paying the little extra to know that not only are you making the day of the person to whom you are giving the gift, but you’re also making the day of that seller! (Do you know how excited I get when I sell an item? Really? There’s typically some jumping involved :))

So, let me know below if you’re planning on supporting handmade this season, through Etsy or craft fairs or wherever, and I’ll get you started with some of my favorites. (That I didn’t get for other people, don’t want to spoil any surprises!) If you like any of them, just click on the picture to send you there!

Hair Pin Buttons by Chatterblossom

Autumn Pillow by NeedlesnPinsStitchery

Hobbiton Necklace by PrettyLittleCharmsUK

Country Button Earrings by ciaralg

“I Like Big Books” Tote by PamelaFugateDesigns

How have you supported handmade this holiday season?

September 24, 2012

On Granny Squares.

Filed under: On Crocheting. — Tags: , , , , , , , — amandajocrafts @ 10:44 am

I have a LOT of yarn.

My mom used to knit and crochet a lot in the years before I came along. After I grew old enough and wanted to know what the boxes and boxes of yarn were doing in our closet, she taught me. She also kindly offered all the yarn in those boxes to my project whims. (Mothers are so darn selfless!) Of course, then I was the one in possession of all these possibilities.

I remember, so clearly, dragging the heavy metal stepstool from the laundry room up the stairs to the hall closet. The folding doors would squeak delightfully as I pushed them open on either side. I would, so carefully, open the step stool, because it made a sharp snap when it locked into place, and my mom had always made it clear that my fingers would not be happy if they were in the proximity of the snap. I’d climb up the three steps and, with my short, chubby kid fingers, inch the box off the top shelf, holding it in the crook of my neck and shoulder while I eased my way back off the stool. I’d look inside, knowing just what I’d find in there because, of course, my mom had marked in Sharpie on the outside what colors, and just how many, were kept inside.

Last year, when I started my Etsy shop, I bought even more yarn. And then, when I moved out of my parents’ house to pretend to be a grown-up, I brought some of her yarn with me. It hung out in a lot of eco-friendly bags until my fiance encouraged me to purchase a wooden storage bench with some lovely baskets (I think he was just getting sick of all the bags in the corner).

I think, at the time, I felt as though I needed as much yarn as possible, “just in case.” Then, my Etsy shop didn’t have quite the direction and continuity as it does now; I was not sure what the next item would be, so I felt as though I just had no clue what I needed. However, I now have a clear vision, and it does not include all this extra yarn! (Especially when I bought out a certain brand a Michael’s a month ago for those teddy bears I’ve been making. They do not fit in the baskets with everything else in there.)

So, I pondered what to do with this yarn. I didn’t want to store it somewhere, because then I would forget about it. I didn’t have the heart to fill my parents’ hall closet back up with it again. Then, I stumbled across the fascinating “granny square.”

You would think, being a hard-core yarner, yarn-artist, and general yarn-a-holic, that I would have a lot more experience with a granny square. (Really, my only “contact” with them was when I was just starting out crocheting and found some of my mom’s old, leftover granny squares. She taught me how to connect them, and my American Girl Dolls had a nice little blanket.) Granny squares are the perfect way to utilize this “homeless” yarn!

I wasted no time in looking up how to create them, and even less time in coming up with my own, slightly varied, version of the traditional granny square. I tried a couple out, and decided this would be the perfect project to do on the bus on my way to work.

Putting thought into action, I assumed–with a slight delight–that this might cause some interest on an otherwise morning-dulled bus. Maybe I can hand out some business cards, I thought to myself. This could be great shop publicity. People can see me in action!

I was wrong. No one even looked twice! It actually harkened back to some even odder behavior by myself, where, right after moving, I put all my crochet animals in bags and took them to the park and beach to photograph them. (I have since changed my photos on Etsy, but some of my fourth and fifth Etsy pictures do still have examples, like my octopus here.) Although I didn’t mean to draw attention to myself, I thought that at least a couple people would wonder what the heck this girl in a sundress was doing with bags of crochet animals slung over her shoulder. Nope.

At any rate, I’m still really excited about these granny squares. I have quickly mastered their efficiency and can knock them out relatively fast (a little over one per twenty-minute bus ride). I’m looking forward to having enough to connect them into a really fun, colorful young boy’s blanket! I’ll let you know when it makes it onto Etsy. 🙂

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