Holiday PostCards

christmas

This year I wanted to make more personalized cards for everyone and save a bit of cash in postage.  The logical conclusion was designing my own postcards! At 33 cents each to mail out postcards are great for penny pinchers.

The first step was to design the postcard.

I wanted to incorporate a quote by American writer Adela Rogers St. Johns because it is Christmas-y and uses my last name – Joy.

Using Paint.NET  I layered snowflakes with an antique paper texture.  Used glitter text for the quote and tada finito!
It is important when designing to use the correct size in making the postcards.  Regular sized postcards cannot exceed 6 by 4.25 inches or else you will have to pay greater postage.

The reverse side included my return address and space to write out the recipient’s address.  The Post Office asks that you include the words POST CARD just in case no one at the office can figure that out. Continue reading

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Mickey Mouse Ornaments

Handmade Christmas ornaments are one of my favorite traditions.  Sure the store made ones can be really pretty and you can color coordinate your tree every year. But there’s something special about unpacking years worth of ornaments and remembering all the stories.

This macaroni stocking was made by you when you were just 5 years old!
This weird glass guitar was your fathers from before we were married. 
This crocheted Santa that looks like Joseph Stalin is from your aunt.

So inspired by the many Disney DIY crafts like these Minnie and Mickey ornaments I wanted to give it my own spin.  These ornaments are going to my mom (we lost years worth of ornaments during Hurricane  Sandy) and to my SigOther’s family to celebrate our upcoming Disney World trip.

All you need is:

  • Red matte finish ornament bulbs (mine were 9 for $5)mickey ornament
  • Black permanent markers or paint
  • White paint
  • Black and white glitter
  • Glue or mod podge

First use a rubber band around the ornament to draw a horizontal straight line. Then fill in the top half with the black marker or paint (marker works best when you have a really thick sharpie or a matte finish bulb).

After that dries cover in black glitter. Cover the black top in glue / mod podge and then sprinkle on the black glitter. Don’t worry about getting a full coverage because you have the black background to fall back on.

Once that is totally dry, paint two white ovals for Mickey’s buttons.  You can then either cover those in white glitter before the paint dries or glue the glitter on later.

Expect to be covered in glitter for the rest of the day

And you’re done! We love a project that takes five minutes but looks fantastic.  It is easy to finish 9 of these ornaments in a half hour – keep a few and hand out the rest to friends and family. They’ll think of you and your impressive crafting abilities every year!mickey ornament

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Christmas for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation

For twenty years The Little North Pole in Rockaway, NYC celebrated with Santa, presents, music, and the most spectacular Christmas lights display this side of the East River.  There’s a carousel, rotating figurines, and greater than life-size dancing animatronics all in one backyard.

Every year this party and the lasting December display raises money for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation and local hospitals.  Past years have been known to raise as much as $175,000.  In addition to the good work The Little North Pole does supporting research to cure and treat juvenile diabetes, it also unites the community in a time when Rockaway is still rebuilding after hurricane Sandy.

If you live in the Rockaways you know the extent to which this celebration has become essential to the community’s holiday traditions.  Please spare some time and check out the  Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation.

Christmas Trees of DC

Washington DC is beautiful during the winter. There are wonderful decorations, diverse celebrations, and snow covered marble everywhere you look. New York can get dreary in the winter with grey snow and too many tourists but DC gains a magical quality.

Here is my celebration of our nation’s capitol with my favorite holiday trees of the city.

My favorite DC Christmas Tree is the Norway Friendship Tree

My favorite DC Christmas Tree is the Norway Friendship Tree.
A gigantic Tree is given to the United States every year from our northern pals in Norway as a thank you for our help in WWII and after. The tree comes decked out in Norwegian and American flags and is set up in Union Station.

The Norway Christmas Tree came complete this year with The Scream ornaments

The Norway Christmas Tree came complete this year with The Scream ornaments

Next up is the classic Capitol Christmas Tree.
Also known as The People’s Tree, it is decorated with handmade ornaments from the residents of a particular state. Mostly children take part in creating the 5,000 individual ornaments which adorn the tree but here and there you can see the touches of local artists and adults. In these pictures you can see the purple and pink ribbons covered with loved one’s names.

The National and State Christmas trees are celebrated with the National Christmas Tree Lighting.
I arrived a day too early but just in time to be blocked by the event set-up from enjoying the trees.  Each tree is uniquely decorated with  state specific ornaments. This year, the New York tree was decorated with our state bird, the Eastern Bluebird. I got to hear the bands preparing for the Tree Lighting Concert but was confused when they started up with Crazy Train – Ozzy wasn’t invited!

Obligatory photo of The White House. These kids were part of a school group admiring the president’s decorations from afar.

Kids gawking at the White House Christmas decorations

Kids gawking at the White House.

And finally, not a Christmas Tree but a very pretty and very old one that I’m going to call the Love Tree.

I love this tree. Right outside the Capitol Building

I love this tree. Right outside the Capitol Building.

It was one of those occasions when juvenile graffiti comes off as romantic.  And the thick trunk covered in carvings of infatuation and forever commitments was in various stages of healing.  I’m sure most of these relationships did not last as long as their public declarations did.  But maybe there’s still a couple out there who hacked their initials into the tree decades ago.

I dubbed it the Love Tree

I dubbed it the Love Tree.

Thus ends this short collection of Washington DC Christmas (and not too Christmas) Trees.  If you ever get a chance go and visit the capital when they’re calling for snow.

Apple Pie Cookies

apple pie cookies - Copy

Happy Turkey Day!

Thanksgiving is a time for family, tradition, and food. Lots and lots of food! This year with my family traveling up to Massachusetts, my little brother on base in the Marines, and my boyfriend’s family hundreds of miles away in Maryland I needed a recipe that would travel and package well.  And cookies are a staple of the holiday care package. Keeping with the Thanksgiving theme I was inspired by Kitchen Simplicity’s latticework cookies and these Apple Pie Cookies were born.

Ingredients

Sugar Cookies

  • 3 Cups All Purpose Flour
  • 1 Cup Butter – Paula Deen Approved Recipe
  • 1 Cup Sugar
  • 1 Egg
  • 3/4 Teaspoon Baking Powder
  • 1 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract
  • 1 Teaspoon Cinnamon 

Apple Pie Flavor Topping

  • 1 Cup Apple Juice or 1/2 Cup Apple Juice Concentrate
  • 1/4 Cup Sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon Cinnamon 
  • Directions

    1. Cream butter and sugar in a large bowl.
    2. Mix in the egg and vanilla extract.  Then add sifted flour, baking powder, and cinnamon. Divide dough in two and refrigerate for an hour.
    3. Meanwhile, boil the Apple Juice in an uncovered saucepan until reduced to a light syrup (be careful not to burn because that’s a scary sticky mess) and allow to cool.
    4. Roll the two dough clumps out on a floured surface to 1/4th inch thickness. Continue reading

Iron Man Dress

My Inspiration for an Iron Man Dress

https://i0.wp.com/fc08.deviantart.net/fs71/f/2012/157/b/9/avengers_gowns__iron_man_and_hulk_by_kelseymichele-d52hgjh.jpg

KelseyMichele did a fantastic job translating over-the-top costumes into quite lovely evening gowns!

My love of Iron Man and need for a new cosplay for New York Comiccon practically required I give the very bodyconscious design a try. Even if it required more spandex than I have ever worked with before.
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After sewing a fitted long sleeve dress out of the metallic red spandex it was time to work on the golden accents.

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Without a walkingfoot attachment to my sewing machine it was near impossible to sew on the sticky metallic side of the fabric

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Mcguyver an Arc Reactor out of Home Depot supplies

cosplay iron man shoes

And add some sexy shoes found in Goodwill and painted to match

cosplay iron man dress

How to: Sew a Bow Tie

how to sew a bow tie

Bow ties are stylish, timeless, and cool. There are also extremely simple to DIY.

What You Need:

  • 1/4 yard of Awesome fabric
    – from crazy patterns to the classics. If you want to customize your bow tie stick with simple solids. Medium to heavy weight fabrics work best but a sheer interface can be used to make even the thinnest materials usable.
  •  Thread
    – matching or complementing colors
  • Sewing Machine or needles
  • (Optional) 1/4 yard of Stabilizing fabric/ Interface– If you prefer your bow tie to be extra stiff or are using a light- medium weight fabric you will need a thicker fabric (like denim) or iron-on interfacing (eg Pellon 950F ShirTailor)
  • (Optional) Fabric paint or permanent markers

Let’s Get Started:

Bow ties range in shape and size just as much regular ties. If you have access to a favorite bow tie, I suggest you create your own pattern – it will make sizing easier.

Create your own Pattern

1. Adjust bow tie to fit.
2. Trace bow tie onto parchment/wax paper.
Other paper would work but you will not be able to trace it all on one paper. If this is the case, it is important to measure how long the adjusted tie is so that you can replicate it on your fabric.
3. Label!
It’s always frustrating to spend time making a pattern only to render it useless by forgetting to label it. Obviously we are making a bow tie but marking the neck size (or going by name) keeps everything organized.

Now it is time for the fun part.

After tracing or pinning the pattern you will need to cut it out. If you were able to trace the entire bow tie then cut out two pieces of fabric. If you are planning to use interfacing or a stabilizing fabric cut out one piece using the same fullsize pattern.

If you were not able to trace the entire bow tie onto one pattern or if you are using a printed pattern from the internet you will need to find the neck size of the person receiving the bow tie. This will be the first number of their collared shirt size – eg [16 34/35]. In this example, the long skinny strip of the pattern will need to be 16 inches in order to fit.

  • If you are using interfacing iron it on now to one piece of your decorative fabric.
  • If you are going to decorate your bow tie with fabric paints or permanent marker do so now before it is sewn together. Some geeky examples are my Minecraft and Gallifreyan bow ties but there’s no limit to what you can do. I’ve seen everything from poetry to doodles on bow ties!

The Gallifreyan is based on the language developed by GreenCrook.  It’s a great way to personalize a gift with a secret Doctor Who message.  
bow ties minecraft

The final step

Is to sew together your bow tie. Place your pieces right-side together (with your optional stabilizing fabric on top) and pin. Sew around the edge with a 1/4 inch seam allowance. It is important to leave a 2 inch gap while sewing in the center or else you will not be able to invert your bow tie right side out.

Snip the corners and cut slits into the seam allowance along the curves of the bow tie to help it lay flat.

Using your trusty pencil, chopsticks, or butterknife invert the bow tie through that gap you left.

Iron the bow tie flat and sew up the 2 inch gap. It is hidden under the collar so don’t worry about using an invisible stitch.

Tada! You now have a fantastic bow tie.
Do you have any ideas for a fantastically geeky bow tie?

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