Halloween House Craft-Along

Paper mache houses -- Star Wars guys not included

Paper mache houses -- Star Wars guys not included

So, anyone want to craft-along with me as I make a Halloween House(s)?  Last year, Sarah at The Small Object posted the cutest Halloween house project and I’ve been thinking about doing it ever since.

I bought the paper mache houses from Craftsetc.com.  I tried to find them locally at Michaels or ACMoore, but I couldn’t locate any.  Maybe now that it is closer to the holidays, they will be stocking these types of things.  Not sure!  The set came with three sizes, I got them on sale for about $8, but regular price is $12.  The boys already saw them and think that I should decorate the big one, and they get the medium and small ones.  The big one is a perfect size for the man wooden dolls (2 3/8″).  You can get those at lots of craft stores, or online at Casey’s Wood.  And I’d think the little boys size at 1-11/16″ would be good for the smaller houses.  I’m planning on turning the people into mummies, witches, who knows what.  I also really want to make the cool poseable skeletons that Sarah also posted a tutorial about on The Small Object.  I also bought some doll pins and stands, and I might make some sort of spooky painted dolls too.  Who knows?!

Follow along and see what happens!

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Letterboxing at Fort Knox

Fort Knox

Fort Knox

After years of thinking about it, we finally took our first foray into Letterboxing a few weeks ago.  As is often the case, it’s one of those things that make you wonder what took you so long!  We took the opportunity of the long Labor Day weekend to go on a little day trip to Fort Knox and the Penobscot Narrows Observatory.  If you haven’t been and you’re in Maine, I highly recommend both of them!  I’d imagine that the observatory is super-cool right now with the fall color.  Fort Knox was established in 1844 to protect the mouth of the Penobscot River valley from potential future British naval incursion.  The boys really loved exploring all the dark tunnels and rooms, especially the underground storage areas for food!  Ooh, dark and scary in there.  Bring a flashlight!

Inside the tunnels in the fort

Inside the tunnels in the fort

One of many cannons

One of many cannons

Fort Knox tunnels

Fort Knox tunnels

Food storage areas

Food storage areas

Penobscot Narrows Observatory

Penobscot Narrows Observatory

View of the Penobscot River

View of the Penobscot River

Letterboxing is a treasure hunt style outdoor adventure.  A “letterbox” is a waterproof container containing a rubber stamp, often hand carved, and a log book.  You can go online to Letterboxing.org, or atlasquest.com (my favorite), and search for letterbox plants in your area (or the area you are visiting, etc.).  There are clues given for how to find the letterbox.  Such as, “find three trees growing close together, walk 10 paces north, and dig under some rocks to find the box.”  Or something like that.  You have your own personal stamp and log book.  You stamp the letterbox log book with your stamp, write a note, then use the letterbox stamp to stamp your personal log book.  It’s a lot of fun!  Really takes very little start-up costs, unlike geocaching where you need a personal GPS unit.

Our first letterbox was in a picnic area near Fort Knox, and then we also found four letterboxes in Fort Knox.  They all had awesome hand carved stamps.  One of the things about letterboxing is that you are supposed to be careful and not draw attention to yourself.  When you find the letterbox, it’s important to replace it as you found it, hiding it so the casual observer won’t notice it.  This is slightly difficult with a 5yo who is very excited, LOL!  You are also not supposed to share your log book with others.  Part of the fun is discovering the cool stamp, so you don’t want to give away the surprise by showing others your stamp collection.

Looking for our first letterbox

Looking for our first letterbox

K's Ecojot journal that he chose as his letterboxing log book

K's Ecojot journal that he chose as his letterboxing log book

And to top off a perfect day, we saw a sign as we were headed home that proclaimed, “Blueberries – Last Days!”  So of course, we quickly turned and bought 15 pounds of Maine wild blueberries from a local farm.  Mmmm……blueberry jam, blueberry pie, blueberry muffins….

15 pounds of blueberries for $33, how can you pass that up?

15 pounds of blueberries for $33, how can you pass that up?

Blueberry Pie, recipe from Cook's Illustrated, July/Aug 2008, Issue 93

Blueberry Pie, recipe from Cook's Illustrated, July/Aug 2008, Issue 93

I highly recommend this blueberry pie recipe from Cook’s Illustrated.  It was amazing!  Firm filling without any off-flavors from using too much tapioca or flour or whatnot.  The crust uses vodka!  It was so flaky and yummy.  The vodka adds more liquid to make it easier to roll out, but the vodka then evaporates in the oven, so the crust turns out flaky.

Alewives Fabric Craft Swap

When we were at the Maine Quilts show in July, we stopped by the Alewives Fabric booth.  We loved their stuff!  Loved it!  Well, I went online later to check out their online store, and saw that they had a craft swap coming up in their store on a Friday night.  It looked like a good time, so my friend and I went.  It was a bit of a drive to get there, but so worth it!

The swap was tons of fun and we can’t wait until the next one in December!  It was an old-fashioned Yankee Swap, and I was excited to have possession of Rhea’s Denyse Schmidt-inspired scrappy quilt, even if it was only for a little while.

Here is what I made!  I used Skip to my Lou’s reversible tote bag tutorial to make a little linen tote.  I made the handles a bit longer to make it easier to hang over your shoulder.  I pieced the front piece with some pretty Irish linen that I had in my stash, and some purple quilting pieces, also from my stash.  Then, I used the Sketchy Stitchy Applique tutorial from Bloomin’ Workshop to make these little birds.  I love the little birds!  I used Heat and Bond Lite to attach the birds to the linen, then did the sketchy stitching using some brown thread (don’t forget stabilizer underneath!).  I think brown has a nicer effect than black thread.  Finished it off with some Kona cotton handles in Violet.

Linen bird tote for swap

Linen bird tote for swap

Sketchy Stitchy Applique birds

Sketchy Stitchy Applique birds

Of course, that wasn’t enough for me, so I also made a little stuffed birdie with a thrifted wool sweater.  I needle felted the tail, beak, belly, and the little bits of orange color on the wings.  The pattern for the bird was based off the pattern that Living Crafts magazine had in their winter issue last year (last year, I made them with regular wool felt as Peace Dove bird ornaments for Montessori teacher gifts for the holidays).  And to top it off, I threw in the brand-new (at the time) book from Amanda Blake Soule, Handmade Home.

Felted wool bird

Felted wool bird

It was a great time, and I loved making the items.  And what did I receive in the swap, you might ask?  A totally adorable bag!  I love bags.

My craft swap loot

My craft swap loot

Of course, while I was there, I couldn’t resist shopping in their lovely store.  New post for that.  I can’t wait to show you what I’m going to do with what I bought!!  I’m very excited about it.

Baby quilt in action

All spring, all I talked about was this baby quilt.  Finally it was completed….only about 2 months after the gift recipient was born….but now check it out.  In use for tummy-time.  Isn’t she adorable?  I love to see my gifts in action!

Hey baby girl!

Hey baby girl!

My living room and office renovation projects are finally completed.  I spent a good part of Saturday and a few hours on Sunday night painting the closet and trim in the office.  And until I got side-tracked by 15 pounds of Maine wild blueberries today, I was well on my way to moving the furniture into the new rooms and finally finding my camera cord!  But, alas, sidetracked I was.  By sweet, yummy, tiny little bundles of goodness.  21 jars of blueberry jam later, I still have some pie (Cooks Illustrated, July 2008 issue) and blueberry cake to make before I can start moving furniture.  Blueberries wait for no one.  Blueberry ice cream is in the refrigerator waiting to be processed tomorrow, and about 4 quarts are already in the freezer.  And my fingers are very purple.

Denyse Schmidt County Fair – SCORE!

Okay, my local Marden’s strikes again, and I had a total fabric score this morning.  Denyse Schmidt County Fair for $3.99/yard!!!!  Home dec weight, 54″, 3.99/yard???  How can you pass that up?  I have no idea what I will do with it, but something will come to me.  I bought all the red and blue that they had, but didn’t buy the two yellows.  I think I might go back though and get the yellow ribbon to make a valance for my living room.  A living room that I might add is finally finished, as of last night’s painting of the trim, so I will finally be able to find my camera cord and show you the pictures of my cool linen / bird applique tote bag that I made for the Alewives Fabric swap last month.  “Fabric Buyers Anonymous” anyone?

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tulipmarathonberry

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But what should I do with it??  I think I might make a skirt out of the berry fabric and I’m sure other ideas will come to me.