Monday, January 10, 2011

Mr. Fuzzbutt

In all honesty, I'm not much of one for gifting my crafted items, but I made an exception for Christmas and sent this cute little crocheted bunny to live with my almost-two-year-old niece.

I named him Mr. Fuzzbutt and almost hated to part with him, but I suspect I'll be making another soon to live happily in my toy/craft room. ^.^

If you're curious to make your own, here's the Ravelry link to the free pattern.

Friday, January 7, 2011

How to Re-Use Absolutely Everything: Christmas Wrapping Paper Idea #1

This past Christmas, I brought home the gift paper that had wrapped my gifts (for crafting purposes). Christmas in America generates ridiculous amounts of garbage, and wrapping paper is part of that. In fact, the whole point of wrapping paper is to rip it off and throw it away, which just seems pointless to me. Why pay money for pretty paper that you're just going to...throw away? That aside, I saved mine and added it to my paper stash while I devised different ways to use it.

I initially figured that I could use as the background for Christmas-themed scrapbooking pages. It works just as well as made-for-scrapbooking paper if you paste it onto a cardstock backing, and costs considerably less than the 50 cents a page that scrapbooking paper costs. I haven't been in much a scrapping mood lately, though, so I've been digging around for other papercrafting ideas to make use of my salvaged wrapping paper.

Enter this cute ornament tutorial from How About Orange.

Christmas wrapping paper works great for making Christmas tree ornaments, and it's a great way to decorate handmade. ^.^

I used pony beads as I have no idea where my other beads are hiding right now, but overall I think they came out pretty cute, and they actually use a relatively small amount of paper, so one sheet from a gift should make quite a few. Our Christmas tree is already put away for the year, but I look forward to being able to use them next December.

I'll have more wrapping paper ideas posted in the future, so keep your eyes open.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

A Rare Reflective Post

Although most of my posts will be crafting-related or active in some way, I'm going to take a moment to write a short reflective post. I've tried to write something to this effect before and it weighs so heavily on me that I've had to give up, condemned to keep it to myself. But in honor of a new year, I've decided to just write it all down as quickly as possible and get it off my chest.

2010 was a tough year for me. Not just because my sister died unexpectedly, alone, or because I had to watch my dad descend into being mute, confused, and helpless before I watched him take his final breaths. These were just what started the bulk of my troubles in 2010. No, what has really taken its toll on me the worst was that I wasn't allowed to move on.

In an unlucky series of events, my sister's estate is still in probate. Most of her things are still setting in her house just as she left them, nearly a year after her death. It makes it incredibly hard for me to go back there now. As much as I adore east Texas, I hate making trips down there now. Because of our own financial issues and her lack of life insurance, we still haven't managed to get her a tombstone yet.

I knew when my dad died that I would be the one settling his affairs, but he never prepared me for how convoluted that process is. We're still in the process of getting the Air Force to release the rest of his life insurance money, still haven't settled his debts or sold any of his estate. He had no legal will, his information with the Air Force was out of date, and the paperwork he had wasn't organized at all.

There is still so much unfinished business to take care of, and everything is going so slowly. It's like having a huge burden on my shoulders. I truly hope that none of you ever have to bear the responsibility that I took on in all of this, because it is truly overwhelming at times. Certainly, I've had other family members die, including two of my half-brothers, but at that point in time, other people made the arrangements and took care of the responsibilities. I was allowed to do my mourning and then move on. Now that I am the one shouldering responsibility, I can understand better why my dad carried a similar burden.

To top it all off, I've noticed that having that burden has made me dwell on other bad things that have happened in my life - even little ones that happened when I was a child, but especially more recent ones. Petco trying to fire me for needing time off to settle my sister's affairs after she died. Being told not to worry about how to pay for my sister's funeral, that her church would take care of it, only to find out after the funeral that "it was just a loan" and we were expected to pay it back, because the church "isn't in the business of burying people." Being fooled by two different people into thinking they were my friends, because I take people at face value and it never occurs to me that some people just pt on an act so that they can use you. Our cranky landlord showing up without any notice and letting himself in when I didn't answer the door. And so many, many other things. It kills some days for me, leaves me stuck in a depression.

It's not that I'm trying to throw a pity party. It's just that I don't understand how everything got like this. How everything can change so quickly.

I've been looking forward to 2011, and I am glad that it is now here. I am offered a tiny bit of relief that my year of hell is now, officially, in the past. I know that it's quite likely that 2011 could end up just as badly as 2010, but they whole point of this blog is that, because it brings me so much pain to look back on even happy memories right now, all I have to cling to is the present and the future.

Even though I'm not much of one for New Year's Resolutions, I made one this year: Keep Moving Forward. Because the only way to handle bad periods in your life is just to take one day at a time. My hope for tomorrow is what keeps me trudging on the worst days. My joy is the little family I've built for myself. So I put my past out of my mind, for now. Maybe one day I'll be able to look back again and enjoy the happy memories. For now, all I can do is keep moving forward, focus on the present and keep working on living out the values that Jason and I have ascribed to our lives. I'll just keep moving forward.

[Picture Credit]

What To Do With Too Many Large Picture Frames

Here we are, five days into the new year (Huzzah for 2011! A pox on 2010!), and that means I am five days behind schedule in getting this blog up and running again. In my defense, however, that isn't entirely because I was being lazy, but rather because my aura of anti-technology had been pissing my computer off lately. It keeps locking me out of the network drives, which happens to be where everything gets saved or imported to. It surprised me and let me in today, though, so I'm taking advantage while I have access.

Today's topic wasn't at the top of the list for posts I wanted to start with, but it's the one I've got finished enough to write about, so there you have it.

I've recently been faced with a dilemma in that I've used all my small 4x6 and 5x7 picture frames and was left with a bunch of 8x10s. Since I prefer small pictures and have a bunch still left to be framed and hung, it occurred to me: why pay money to buy new frames and just keep all these big frames waiting for large pictures that I will probably never have, when I can just get creative and use the big ones I already own? Therefore, the solution to my problem:

Take some smaller pictures, add some scrapbooking paper/cut-outs, and put them in a cute vintage frame, and ta-da! Killing two birds with one stone. I also love this idea because it allows me to embellish the photos and add captions or titles. Plus, you don't have to use scrapbooking paper - you can use any piece of scrap paper that will fit a 8x10 frame. I plan on making one with pictures of my dad using a copy of his retirement order from the Air Force as the background.

These are the only two I have finished right now, but I printed off a bunch more pictures of my current dogs this morning, so you'll probably see new ones posted in a few days.

As an aside, the pictures featured in the frames above are of Gomer, my first miniature Dachshund and best friend when I was a pre-teen, and also KP, my second miniature Dachshund, Baby the terrier mix, and Scott the giant Shetland Sheepdog, who is, coincidentally, the father to my sweet Oscar, Piper, and KiKi. Who'd have thought? Gomer, KP, Baby, and Scott are no longer with us, but clearly, I haven't forgotten them.

Speaking of the dogs, we've finally scheduled a neuter appointment for both Munchie and Big Boy for later this month, and it's about time. The testosterone in this house is about to drive me over the edge.

Keep your eyes peeled for more updates coming soon, but for now, it's time I go take down our little Christmas tree.