It's been a long time baby

15 May 2011 10:11 by SarainAkko 2 comments
I've been a little busy as of late. 

Busy working and mothering and living and crafting and nourishing and hosting and cleaning and celebrating and running and occasionally coming up for air. 

This is the part where I take a breath.

Here's a little video I made of my newest creative exploit.


Princess Dress from T-shirts aka Purim on the Cheap

I'm not sure what it is that compels me to make my kid's costume instead of buying them. It just goes against my DIY nature. Also, I'm fairly sure I never had a store bought costume in my lifetime.

So here's the princess dress made entirely out of T-shirts.

Stack of shirts

 Yellow shirt, minus sleeves = skirt

 very tedious cutting = puffy princess sleeves

shirt and skirt set for maximum playability

Sassy Princess (notice the cape)

T-shirt dress = happy princess

Key Fob Quickie, Crafts for the Office Continued

My personal key ring has just undergone some major work-related changes

From this...

To this.

My key ring used to be simple (really simple) but now  it looks like that big old set of janitor keys hanging around some dude's belt. Despite the fact that they are heavy and jingle and slow me down when I'm on the go, I actually do need a surprising amount of these keys on a constant basis now and am forced to find a way to hold them along with all the other junk I tote around at work.

Enter the handcrafted key fob.

The tutorials online abound for this sort of project but as I only have this hardware on hand the project looks something like this:

Find heavy scrap of fabric, sew tube inside out and turn to right side, top stitch into a hand-sized loop. Attach to key ring and top stitch to reinforce. Easily find your less hideous keyring in style.

The close observer may also notice that this is the same scrap of fabric which I used to make my pinch close coin purse that holds my daily travel fare. So now it's a matching set. Find the tutorial of the coin purse remake here.

Next office preparedness craft is a true essential for your desk or purse, not to be missed.

Back to the Office with Crafts, Necklace Tutorial (sort of)

I've recently rejoined the drudgery of the work-a-day, cubicle monkey world.

In actuality, I have a very nice private office and a predecessor who has graciously stayed on to train me as well as tidy the place before she throws me to the deep end. There's a full-sized fridge in my small department's kitchen and nobody has taken my food by mistake so far. Win, win, win on all fronts.

But I have never had an office so organized, so sterile and so in need of personalization. All
others had files and folders stacked to the ceiling, probably to hold up the walls up (non-profit charm). So while I still have clean office smell on my brain, I will be devoting the coming week to preparing myself and my office to co-habitate in style with a few simple office related projects.

Today's tutorial: ID Badge Holder that isn't gross! No, really! Not even a lanyard.

Old "pearl" necklace or a few pearl beads- anything you have a dozen of
A bit of scrap ribbon, suede cord or necklace chain
A fabric flower-one you've prepared from chiffon scraps, purchased or re-purposed
Needle, thread, some basic jewelry findings.

Step 1). Grab your supplies

Step 2). String pearls, attach to ribbon, attach flower and pin your ID badge to the side.

Booyah! ID badge necklace for $0 in scrap material and no trips to the mall (priceless).

May not be much of a tutorial (sorry) but it's a heck of a lot better than the constant holes and snags in clothing from forgetting about the ubiquitous ID and its nasty little alligator clip.

There will be more office crafting, believe you me.

*Notice  left out my actual ID photo? I even had a chance to look it over and instead told the ID person that I was sure she knew what she was doing. Big mistake, trust no one to take a good picture of you.

Connecting Worlds? Another Anthropologie Jewelry Remake

I pulled this photo of a possible necklace remake a mere month ago from the Anthropologie online catalog but it has already been overpriced, marked down, clearanced and pushed aside. Time to make my own.

This is Anthropologie's in white

 This is mine in black

I'm a little tired of grosgrain ribbon so I reversed the translucent beads and grosgrain for sheer ribbon and iridescent beads. However, I had to wait for a day trip to Jerusalem to find the right materials to bring you...

Anthropologie's Connecting Worlds Necklace Remake Tutorial

Materials: Needle, thread, beads and 1 meter of ribbon in similar width to bead size

 Step 1). Tuck end of your ribbon and begin stitching in 1/2 inch intervals.

Step 2). Begin bunching the ribbon to your liking (I like the loose ribbon ruffle)

Step 3). String beads between ruffles, continue sewing through ribbon and beads.

*Tip: To keep your beads close to one another you may want knot between beads, holding each one in place.

Step 4). When you've finished with your desired length of beads, finish sewing through your ribbon in 1/2 inch intervals as you did in the first step.  Knot to secure and finish with closure at either end.


In short, this is a super simple project (maybe a 1/2 hour of work) and it's a project that is just more fun to make than to buy. 

Estimated Cost for DIY version: $5 if you buy expensive beads and ribbon (I did not). 
Estimated Cost for authentic Anthro Necklace: Too much, I don't remember an actual price but you and I both know it costs too much if it can be crafted up by you instead. 

Think of it as Anthro-Couture!

Martha Stewart and Joan Rivers Can't be Wrong

Roll your eyes if you must but Martha knows comedy (at least she can handle comedy being conducted in her general proximity, as long as it's tidy).

Even if you aren't a die-hard Martha fan, you're going to want to catch her and Joan Rivers crafting together. It's just that good!

And here's the Marc Jacobs clutch they were recreating with felt and a glue gun. 

Take a minute to process that; remake Marc Jacobs with felt and a glue gun?

I'm no fashionista, but as a sister to and mother of  2 girls with the fancy gene I can tell you that this is probably wrong. And yet, it's sooo right.This purse was made to be remade.

But I'm not entirely in love with the results of this craft session gone astray.

My four year old would be thrilled by the felt hearts, but I'm not taking/toting this anytime soon.

So without further ado: my own "Love Story Clutch."

Step 1). If you have some spare pleather lying around in fanciful colors you can start by crafting yourself a basic clutch, any size and shape you like will work. I found this great turquoise purse for about $2. Cutting apart an old purse saves you the trouble of finding the zippers and other important purse parts.

If you're crafting your own clutch from scratch, skip to the bottom, otherwise stay with me.

Step 2). Get out your seam ripper and pull out any unnecessary seams and decoration. I was able to salvage the original zipper and the nice casing that connects to the sides of the bag for a finished look.

Step 3). Since this bag had a solid backside and only a little bit of white trim on the front, I was able to remove the front stripe, cut the original height of the bag in half and get a clean surface to make my clutch. The only remaining work was to reinsert the original zipper.


With any luck, you should wind up with a clutch that looks roughly like this bellow.


Step 4). Go back to all the pieces you disassembled from your original purse. You should have plenty of material to start cutting some large hearts to cover your bag in. Use a template to trace the hearts out for consistency.

A Majority of the fabric I had leftover was turquoise. 


 But I wanted more colors because the original bag had a great mix of texture and tone.

Step 5). Get out your craft paint and paint some of your hearts in varying shades to match your clutch. Leave some hearts their original color*.


*Tip: I mix paint when I've finished with one batch of hearts by adding the new paint to my original color. This keeps your hearts mostly within the same color family or tone so everything is well coordinated.

Step 6). Let painted hearts dry then begin playing with different arrangements on the clutch. If you'd like the hearts to be more stiffly adhered to the clutch, glue around the edges. For a more playful texture, glue hearts in the center only. It's already a remake of a remake, you can have fun with it. I promise I won't tell Martha.

I'll be guest posting this tutorial over at Mine For The Making Sunday the 13th. Stop on by and say hello. 

Fancy Rainbows for Everyday

I have lamented before, but if you are new here you should know that my child is a "fancy" child. I'm learning to work with it.

After seeing a small strip of rainbow ribbon I'd been storing away in the stash, my 4 year old became wide eyed and full of delight.

"That's just like Fancy Mancy! It's like her headband!" 

Lo and behold, it was true. "Fancy Nancy, Every Day is Earth Day," features Nancy (or Mancy as she is known to us) with a rainbow headband. The kid already saw the supplies, how could her mother not agree to make one for her?

Alright crafty mom, now make it. Here's how.

-18 inches of wide grosgrain rainbow ribbon
-4 inches of elastic tape (any fitting width or one rubber hairband)
-White felt scrap for cloud
-Rainbow assortment of embroidery floss
-Basics-scissors, needle, paper pencil

 Step 1). Draw a cloud shape and cut two from white felt.

Step 2). With white thread, stitch around the outside of your clouds.

Step 3). Draw interlocking hearts on one side of your clouds, break out the rainbow thread and start embroidering your pattern. Set aside for about 2 minutes to make headband.

Step 4). Measure your head to make sure it isn't much larger or smaller than my measurements. Press ends of ribbon about an inch (give or take) turning inward, *secure the elastic so that the final measurement of the headband will allow it to fit snugly on your head. Secure your embroidered cloud to side of headband.

*the elastic only peeks out a few inches at the bottom but should be strong enough to keep your hair back and the ribbon on your head.


 This tutorial would probably work for any kind of ribbon to headband transformation but around here we are only concerned with rainbows and clouds as accessories like Mancy.

Lovey Hedgehog Adaptation for the Un-Valentine

You may not be aware, but Valentines day is actually totally foreign here in Israel. As a rule, you can usually count on most St. anything days being out. Some people might have a growing awareness that it's a big deal elsewhere, but culturally it just misses the mark.

Even though I grew up in the US distributing my handfuls of store bought, tear apart valentines with matching stickers, my children won't be receiving the same childhood memories. No classrooms decked out in cupids and hearts or the big sugary parties with the classroom moms. It's just not what goes on around here and I'm Ok with that.

BUT, there are so many great Valentines day crafts that have been circulating the blog world recently, I'm starting to get a creative itch for some projects that, although heart-based and adorable, but not overly Valentine-ish.

I've always loved simple softie making patterns, and this is a perfect one from LollyChops 
who created and shared this excellent pattern and step-by step tutorial about a year ago for a sweet Hedgehog named Hamie. Go check it out!

To get over my "heart ache" (sorry) my matching hedgies have bright colored hearts.

 My kids' hedgehogs are way into each other.

This is a great quick project and the outcome is so terribly cute, it's worth all of the tiny cutting to make the furry bits. Originally, all the tiny hearts were larger scraps so it was great to be able to plow through a bit of that left over to remake something adorable.

I'm a fan of plain muslin for dolls and softies, it's like a blank canvas for your imagination. Even if you're the biggest fan of February 14th, this hedgehog would rock any way you craft it up.

My Mother In Law's Orchids, the Race Against Time, Thanks

We're not big on physical gifts to adults for birthdays or holidays in my husband's family. Maybe a family dinner but that's usually where we draw the line.

However, my mother-in-law does like to bring me potted orchids that I somehow manage to turn around and kill within weeks.

But there is more to this phenomenon than the orchid entering my care and then suddenly dying. There is first a hopeful stage where a new plant is gifted to me. I vow that it will not die on my watch and then I feeble try to assess which mineral water will best sustain the life of my new pant. I dutifully grimace at my plant and will it to live with all the good intentions I can muster. I have heard  that talking to your plants can help them grow and I have taken to gently whispering to the these fledgling flowers "Grow damn you!" But all to no avail. Within a few short weeks I find the petals wilting from the yellowing plant and I know I have failed again.

Sometimes I am lucky, and my mother-in-law rescues the orchid and magically nurses it back to health. I'm not sure what she does to resurrect these delicate buds but I am almost positive it involves love, patience and some sort of flower doping. Really, this is the only possibility for the success of all orchids once out from under my watchful eye. My mother-in-law cheats nature by pumping the orchids full of some super-botanical flower drugs. These things are probably so hyped up they could pedal in the Tour De France.

But I digress. Another birthday has come and gone and I am left with the seemingly not so large burden of caring for another floral thing. When it entered the house I checked to make sure it wasn't last year's orchid making a reappearance from beyond the grave. It was not. I asked my mother-in-law to set up the plant in the optimal place, in her expert opinion, to receive appropriate sun and humidity. Check. I review the care instructions of watering once a week with mineral water for set amount of time from the pan below. Yes. I then run to the internet and check the facts that I already know to be true. OK... so what now?

Now I sit staring at this ticking time-bomb, waiting for the day when I will have to relinquish custody back to the family flower caretaker.

Is my inability to keep these orchids alive some sort of in-law issue lurking just bellow the surface? Is it possible that of all the species I have dutifully cultivated over the years, orchids are just my Achilles heel? Is "someone" poisoning these plants to later step in and save the day?

February 2, 2011 Thank you little orchid plant

Dear Orchid Plant,

Although we have only known each other a short while, I am thankful for everyday you continue to flower and grace my home with splendor. I hope we continue to grow together. Your resilience despite my ineptitude is a triumph of natural beauty and I hope we share a long and healthy future together.

Earmuff Headband Crochet Pattern

When visiting the States a few months back I was drawn to quite a few retail items that should clearly be craft-it yourself projects in the making. One perfect example, these silly yet ingenious earmuff headband wraps found at Target (sorry about the shoddy camera phone picture).

My husband literally had to pull me out of the accessories aisle to stop me from buying them for a ridiculous $20, if I recall correctly. And then came the magic words..."Why don't you just make them?"

Wait, did my husband really just green-light a whole new project to *sit dormant around the house until my creative juices lulled me back toward the memory of how badly I wanted this thing again? Why yes. I do believe he did.

*Expected completion time for any given project can be months or hours depending on how long my adrenaline and interest carry me. I hear some people find this quirky and endearing.

So here's a free pattern for the Crocheted Earmuff Headband
*Warning this is my first pattern so bare with me and let me know if you find mistakes also, if you've ever crocheted anything, you probably can eyeball this project and crochet it by instinct fairly easily.

Bulky or Extra Bulky Weight Yarn (way less than one ball will do)
5.5 MM "I" or even "J" crochet hook  (Check your gauge hooks on preference)
Craft needle 

Notes: You can either work continually in rounds or Slip-stitch your final stitch to your first in the row and Chain 3 to count as first Double Crochet stepping up in your next row (my example steps up each row). Also, I used a fairly bulky acrylic which gave a finished size of about 4 inches or 10 cm diameter, they're one size fits most unless you'd like them bigger or smaller.

Earmuff (make 2)
Starting: Either Chain 3 and return to first loop to start or create Magic Circle.
Round 1: Double Crochet 10 into loop (10 stitches total)
Round 2: 2 DC in each stitch (20 total)
Round 3: *2 DC in first stitch 1 DC in next, repeat from* (30 total)
Round 4: *2 DC in first stitch 1 DC in next 2 stitches, repeat* (40 total)
Round 5: *1 DC in first 2 stitches, 1 Decrease in next, repeat* (30 total)
Slip-stitch to finish and weave in ends.

Headband (make 1)
Chain 36 (or check length you need from ear to ear, chain to that length)
Row 1: Double Crochet in each stitch, work in round (both sides of stitch) for 2 rows of 36 DC.
Continue around until reaching desired thickness. Slipstitch to finish ends.

*For my some one round is enough but you can continue with another "Round" of 36 DC on each side until you reach desired thickness of band. I chose this method so I have clear front and back to the headband to hold better to the top of the head as the edges curve in a bit.

Ties (make 2)
Make a simple 3 or 5 strand braid of about 8 inches to attach to bottom of of each earmuff, you can finish with a simple knot or a pompom if you're feeling extra cheeky.

Assembling All the Pieces: Check the crown of your head measurement one more time for final placement for each round earmuff piece and then stitch securely. Find bottom center stitch of each earmuff and secure braid. Have fun dancing around your house wearing your new creation because if you live where I do this is too extreme for the sweater weather we are experiencing and if you live somewhere with real winter like the Weather Channel  describes I can't imagine you would dream of going outside. Stay in and make another pair for your spouse, or a miniature pair for your cats, or some for the kids. Whichever creative drive strikes you.

This is the 2 year old who enjoys the earmuff headband far more than his sister.

A Month of Being Thankful and Bobby McFerrin

A recent Blogher post caught my attention. It is the pledge of a a woman who blogs over at Time' s Fool to spend a month being thankful by writing a thank you a day for 30 days.

I (perhaps foolishly) have taken on this superb personal challenge by declaring my undying love for the art of thank you note writing in a public forum, and  have pledged to spend this month being thankful. In addition to my normal posts, which I promise will be more forthcoming in the nearing days, I will also be posting a daily thank you note for the many things I have to be thankful for.

February 1, 2011 Thank You Bobby McFerrin. Truly, thank you.

Dear Mr McFerrin,

When I got in the cab on my first day of my new job early this morning I heard something quietly playing in the background. I thought to myself that this song would carry me through a day of bureaucratic paperwork and processing with the gentle guidance back towards the larger picture of life.

When I learned that I had jumped the gun and arrived for a job that I apparently did not yet receive, I stayed calm and hummed quietly in my head the words I heard earlier. When I thought of tearing up just a bit out of embarrassment, I played your voice back  as my mantra and as I waited for the cab that never came to take me home and remove me from this catastrophic inward hate-fest I repeated it louder to myself.

Some words can be manipulated to sound angry when used out of context or turn around to bite us when we shout them inside our own minds. Your words seem to be so perfectly clear that even in some very unpleasant situations they can pull a person through.

So  thank you Mr McFerrin for your prolific advice. I did not for an instant worry but instead, decided to be happy.

Please accept my most sincere thanks for your guidance.

PS Next time I write you, would it be alright if I called you Bobby? I know we've never met before but I feel like the two of us have been through so much today, it only seems right that we bypass the  formalities.

If I ever met Bobby McFerrin, I'd make sure to bring him these awesome smiley face cookies that sweetopia gave a sweet tutorial on

DIY Falafel, An At Home Guide to Middle Eastern Street Food

Don't let the pictures, or my husband's commentary, fool you. This was either the most ingenious use of DIY resourcefulness or a total fast food impostor recipe abomination. I lean towards best at-home lunch ever!

Although I live in a city bursting full of kosher schwarma shops that line the main street, there are precious few places that sell falafel.  Why is that you ask? I honestly have no idea.

If you live somewhere with a great discrepancy between available schwarma to falafel or just want to know the easiest way to make your own (healthier) falafel and also fix up your pita like a genuine street food experience in your home, this tutorial is for you.

 Super Amazing Falafel DIY Impostor Recipe

Step 1). The easiest way to get genuine falafel is to purchase a ready made powder which you can purchase here or if you're adventuresome you could grind your own chickpeas (garbanzo beans) and mix in spices like these found here. Both options will produce falafel and it all depends on your personal preference. Although I have ready mix waiting in my home (usually due to the family Etsy shop) I like doing things the long and tedious way (grinding beans and adding fresh spice).

Step 2). If you happen to keep a deep fryer around the house, you can toss in the tiny balls of mush chickpea mix till browned. If you are like me and terrified by the thought of cooking with vats of oil, it's time for the oven. This is where my husband and I disagree because I find no reason falafel needs to be a burning hot ball of grease whereas he absolutely believes this is exactly what falafel should be.

Step 3). Cut your pita in half, throw it in the over for just a minute to help it open up a bit if it is giving you trouble.

Step 4). Cut up your essential pita stuffers. At a genuine falafel street vendor you'd find a wide variety of salads and pickles but luckily I enjoy a simple palate of pickles, onions, Yemeni spice and humous (oddly enough, also ground chickpeas... there is a bit of redundancy in available ingredients throughout the Middle East).  

If it's fresh and a vegetable it also belongs in a pita. Middle Eastern fast food is not really as detrimental to your health as the American variety (minus the flaming balls of fried grease).

This is some serious humous. In Hebrew it's just called "spicey" and is found at our local grocer.

Step 5). Shove all your ingredients and freshly baked falafel into your pita. The most genuine Israeli falafel (in my mind) includes chips (french fries). Again, my aversion to deep fryers leaves my falafel just short of greatness until I realize I have potato chips. A totally reasonable compromise. 

Viola! Everything a genuine falafel should be; a mix of texture, extreme spice and stomach soothing fresh veggies. Not too healthy but not a heart attack in a bun. I highly recommend giving this a try at home.