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Tag Archives: mother's day

  • Mother's Day Coloring Book Paper Cookie Box

    Mother's Day is fast approaching and many of us want to remember, honor, and give thanks to our mothers, other family members, friends and neighbors. You may want to express a special 'thank you' for their shared love, care, or mentoring.  A small gift from the heart is like sharing a piece of you; it is the perfect remembrance. The love of coloring can be shared by both artists and non-crafters alike by making this box out of coloring book paper as part of your Mother's Day gifts to give.  So please share your love of coloring and say thank you to those special people in your life. Here's to passing on some extra motherly love!

    To make this simplified version of a paper box, only a few supplies are necessary. I got my inspiration from posts on Pinterest. I liked the visuals found in Design Mom's post, Paper Plate Berry Basket. To construct your box, you will need:

    1. Coloring book paper (8.5" wide), one page per box
    2. Pencil
    3. 8" Plate (to use as your circle template)
    4. Scissors
    5. Cellophane tape

    To decorate the box and make it look like a gift, you will need:

    1. Coloring instruments (colored pencils, gel pens, markers, etc.)
    2. Tissue paper
    3. Ribbon or bow
    4. Gift tag (or make one out of leftover paper scraps)

    Remove your coloring book page from its book. Color page if desired using your favorite media; see some of our newest coloring supplies! When finished coloring, turn the page face down. Using the plate as your guide, trace a circle shape onto the paper; then, cut out the shape.

    Using an 8-inch plate as my template, I traced circle shapes onto the back side of various coloring book pages. Using an 8-inch plate as my template, I traced circle shapes onto the back side of various coloring book pages.

    Working with the circle cut-out, gently fold the edges from side to side and unfold, and, from top to bottom and unfold, to create crease marks as your guides.

    Gently fold the circle shape in half from side-to-side - no hard crease is necessary at this step - unfold. Next, gently fold the circle shape in half from top-to-bottom creating an intersection made from the two creases. Gently fold the circle shape in half from side-to-side - no hard crease is necessary at this step - unfold. Next, gently fold the circle shape in half from top-to-bottom creating an intersection made from the two creases.

    If you like, you may lightly mark the center intersection with pencil.

    To assist you, make light pencil marks at center intersection. This will act as your center point mark when folding the edges. To assist you, make light pencil marks at center intersection. This will act as your center point mark when folding the edges.

    Next, fold each side's edge towards the center mark and crease firmly. Unfold for now.

    Close-up of two sides folded towards the center point. Hard creases are now made on each straight edge. Close-up of two sides folded towards the center point. Hard creases are now made on each straight edge.

    Repeat with the opposite side; unfold. These hard creases have created a square shape that will be the bottom of your paper box. You can see folded intersections from these hard creases. Starting with the bottom right-hand creased intersection, lightly mark with pencil a vertical line up to the adjacent horizontal line.

    You can also make pencil marks on each edge's bottom right-hand crease. Cut from the circle's edge only up to intersection of adjacent crease. You can also make pencil marks on each edge's bottom right-hand crease. Cut from the circle's edge only up to intersection of adjacent crease.

    Cut along this vertical crease up to its adjacent horizontal crease. Turn your circle shape one-quarter turn and repeat. Do two more times so that you have four cut lines/creases. Fold each towards the inside of the circle creating four flaps.

    Four creases have been cut. Fold each flap towards the inside center of the circle. Four creases have been cut. Fold each flap towards the inside center of the circle.

    Each flap will be folded and taped onto its adjacent side's interior wall. It's easier to line up the straight edge of each flap against its adjacent crease if you hold the box on its side. See next image.

    Align the straight edge of the flap against the bottom crease and tape on the inside; the box is on its side for this picture. Notice how the two rounded edges meet creating a neat corner. Align the straight edge of the flap against the bottom crease and tape on the inside; the box is on its side for this picture. Notice how the two rounded edges meet creating a neat corner.

    Repeat with all four corners. A nice box will be created even if some creases are not quite straight, or if some rounded edges do not meet perfectly.

    All sides are taped together -- nice box! All sides are taped together -- nice box!

    Insert some tissue paper for pretty stuffing or as a little cushion, before adding your goodies. I used fold-top plastic bags instead of plastic zippered bags to hold my cookies. Don't be shy about presenting favorite store brand cookies in your box(es).  I used Archway's Frosty Lemon and Oatmeal Raisin cookies and they sat perfectly in a neat stack!  Think of other goodies to include in your box(es) such as a small book, special notes or remembrances from the kids, something for personal use like a new scarf or a hobby-related item .

    Fill the boxes with tissue paper, wrapped cookies, notes to Mom, or other special treats and items of interest. Make a gift tag from remaining scrap paper. [Prototype boxes in the background.] Fill the boxes with tissue paper, wrapped cookies, notes to Mom, or other special treats and items of interest. Make a gift tag from remaining scrap paper. [Prototype boxes in the background.]

    This box is dressing up your gift, so now add some ribbon or a bow, and a gift tag or card, and ta-dah; your gift box is ready to be given!

    Close-up of completed box filled with cookies and wrapped with bakers twine. Handmade gift tag made from scrap coloring book page. Close-up of completed box filled with cookies and wrapped with bakers twine. Handmade gift tag made from scrap coloring book page.

    You can present your gift box in many ways: at Mom's place at the table, presented at the playground with the kids, or at a restaurant from the grandchildren.

    Presentation tray -- a special way to give a simple gift with extra thought and handmade flair. Presentation tray -- a special way to give a simple gift with extra thought and handmade flair.

    Whatever the final presentation is, enjoy your planning, preparation and honoring this special day for mothering!

    Martha

  • Wildflower Seed Bombs, Gnomes & Fairies!

    Spring is here with warmer sunshine, nature awakening and the calendar countdown to school graduation parties and Mother's Day celebrations. Let's get dirty and prepare for some pop-up  color with seed bombs. Dig in and connect with the dirt; yes, it's another way to relieve stress! Dirt, seeds, color, gnomes, and fairies add up to relaxing, whimsical fun!

    So cute! Gnomes walking around wildflower seed bombs ready to plant. So cute! Gnomes walking around wildflower seed bombs ready to plant.

    Homemade seed bombs, or pods full of seeds, are perfect for sharing and planting; what a fun concept! I was so excited to read about this and was gung ho to try it out. First thought: I wanted some fairly carefree flowers; easy to plant and easy to grow. If I plant seeds in a pot or planter, I could include some magical, woodsy features including gnomes and fairies.

    What a fun gift for sharing with my friends who have springtime birthdays, preplanning outdoor decor for graduation parties, or coordinating garden celebrations on Mother's Day. While researching on Pinterest, I found instructions on how to make wildflower seed bombs. They were inexpensive to make, easy to do for a wide age range of crafters with helpers, and do-able to make at home. All of these qualities equaled a perfect solution!

    Since all types of gardening is not easily maintained, I didn't want me or my friends to fuss over another outdoor task to maintain during the summer. A variety packet of wildflower seeds to mix into the paper used to make the seed bombs seemed like a good match. My supplies included:

    1. wildflower seeds
    2. newsprint paper
    3. food coloring (if desired)
    4. metal cupcake tin or silicone ice cube trays
    5. plastic wrap
    6. old kitchen towel
    7. cookie cooling rack
    8. tabletop tray or other object as centerpiece
    9. coloring book pages to make paper cones for gift packaging
    10. planter(s) of choice
    11. imaginative outdoor setting including gnomes, fairies, mini garden decor, and forest critters
    12. maybe some gardening supplies

    TIP: Consider buying several packets of wildflower seeds as some packets may contain a very small amount (< 1/2 tsp) of seed. HINT: Your finished 'bombs' or pods of seeds will be planted randomly so look for seed packets that state your seeds may be planted with 'scattered' spacing.

    Reading several boards on Pinterest, newsprint paper was used to make the paper pulp; read an example here from Dabbles & Babbles. Other examples showing methods used varied slightly; here is another example using colored shredded paper from Apartment Therapy  who based their post on Made Everyday's Hello Spring! DIY Shredded Paper Seed Starters. Below you can read my summary of the steps I took to create my wildflower seed bombs.

    The basic steps are:

    1. shred
    2. soak
    3. blend/chop
    4. combine
    5. shape
    6. dry
    7. package/plant

    First, I shredded between 18-24 letter sized pages of newsprint paper. Newsprint is inexpensive and a good resource as a scribble pad for toddlers; easy come, easy go, so scribble on Little Ones! After shredding, I placed the newsprint paper in a pot, covered the shred with water and let sit overnight.

    Soak shredded newsprint paper in water overnight. Soak shredded newsprint paper in water overnight.

    In the morning, your newsprint will be soft. Leave in pot and remove about 2-3 handfuls of shred at a time, pull apart to make even smaller pieces and place in a blender. Add more water to cover the shred. BE CAREFUL not to stress your blender motor! Use a pulse option or low/medium speed; turn on/off frequently to check on the paper's consistency. After getting a mushy paper pulp consistency, carefully remove the pulp from blender, place mush in a colander to start draining and continue with the remaining shred.

    The paper mush will still be very wet after draining, so slightly push down on it while in the colander to remove more water. Then 'fluff' a little before you add your wildflower seeds.

    After draining and squeezing excess water out of the paper mush, it looks more like wet paper pulp. After draining and squeezing excess water out of the paper mush, it looks more like wet paper pulp.

    Combine your wildflower seed mix of choice. I purchased two different seed packets; here is the first mix as I begin to add the seeds into the pulp.

    Wildflower seed "Mix 1" is added to the khaki-colored paper pulp. Wildflower seed "Mix 1" is added to the khaki-colored paper pulp.

    For some variety, I purchased two different wildflower mixes. For an easy, recognizable distinction between the seed bombs from my two wildflower mixes, I used food coloring to dye my second batch of paper shred. Here is my second batch of paper mush as it is draining.

    For my second round of seed bombs, I added enough food coloring to create fuschia-colored paper mush. For my second round of seed bombs, I added enough food coloring to create fuschia-colored paper mush.

    After removing most of the water from the mush, I will fluff up the paper pulp and add my second variety of wildflower seeds to it.

    The fuschia-colored paper mush is "Mix 2". It is a different wildflower seed mixture than the khaki-colored seed bombs. The fuschia-colored paper mush is "Mix 2". It is a different wildflower seed mixture than the khaki-colored seed bombs.

    While researching the steps for making these wildflower seed bombs, many posts recommended using silicone trays for filling and removing the seed bombs. I do not own silicone molds so I created a different solution. I lined my mini cupcake tin with plastic wrap!

    Line a mini cupcake tin with plastic wrap, place seeded paper mush into each, then flip out onto towel-lined cookie sheet to dry. Line a mini cupcake tin with plastic wrap, place seeded paper mush into each, then flip out onto towel-lined cookie sheet to dry.

    After filling each section, I placed a kitchen towel over the tin, followed by an inverted cookie cooling rack, and finally flipped all over facing right-side up. Then I removed the tin and plastic wrap to reveal my mini seed bombs on the kitchen towel ready to dry. HINT: Food coloring is a dye and will transfer onto the towel while the seed bombs are drying. TIP: Drying can take up to 48 hours so be prepared to wait; start planning your tabletop diorama or gift packaging now!

    In addition to making a centerpiece for my patio table, I want to share my fun project as a springtime birthday present so I prepared a gift package. As part of my gift package, I included two small flowering plants so there was immediate color to enjoy. In order to demonstrate how the seed bombs should be planted in the dirt, I left a few unwrapped on top of the soil.

    The remaining seed bombs were packaged in a plastic bag and placed in paper cones made from coloring book pages (from 6808 - Art of Coloring Patterns). I placed these cones, along with gardening gloves, and one of the flowering plants in an empty pot. Another pot included some dirt, seed bombs, gnomes, and fairies, with select fairy garden items demonstrating a magical garden. You can see that the hedgehog woodland creature from my kit is about to visit the Fairy Garden over the bridge and through the arbor! Your imagination will run away with itself by using these kits in your garden or tabletop decor! See below my use of the kits and birch metal planters to make a whimsical garden display or tabletop diorama.

    Diorama complete with wildflower seed bombs, paper cones made from coloring book pages, gnomes, fairies, and birch planters! Diorama complete with wildflower seed bombs, paper cones made from coloring book pages, gnomes, fairies, and birch planters!
    Close-up of birch metal pot spilling over with seed bombs, gnomes, fairies and other woodland creatures ready for your garden or tabletop decor. Close-up of birch metal pot spilling over with seed bombs, gnomes, fairies and other woodland creatures ready for your garden or tabletop decor.

    Welcome spring; bring on your color!

    Martha

     

  • Day of the Dead

    A lot of people think that the Day of the Dead happens on Halloween. But that is not true. It is a couple days later. I believe it is on November 2nd. It is a day of celebration of the dead that started in Mexico. It will still get you in the mood for Halloween. I love the Day of the Dead art work. I was really excited when I saw that Leisure Arts had a new series of coloring books and one of them was a Day of the Dead coloring book.

     

    FullSizeRender (38) I used color pencils, markers, gel pens, and a paint pen.

    This is what I like about this book it has several examples of the coloring pages done to show what different types of coloring utensils. This book shows what gel pens, markers, and color pencils look like. It gives you helpful blending tips. I never thought to use my gel pens to color with. I have even used my new box of crayons and a couple of my paint pens to color. You could use a clip board to hold your coloring pages. I use a piece of Masonite board and a clip to hold my coloring sheets. The books have easy tear out pages and I find it easier to color.  I like pull my coloring books out at the end of the day and it helps me unwind. The stress of the day just melts away.

    I cannot decide which new coloring book to get the Abstract and Geometric Designs or Folk Art.

  • Ribbon Canvas

    Flipping through Decorate with Ribbon by Leisure Arts I found a quick project. I took out a 9x12 canvas and painted it gray because gray is a neutral color. As I waited for it to dry I played with what ribbons that I wanted to use. April is Autism Awareness month and April 2 is Worldwide Autism Awareness month. So I chose a project that is called Ribbon Canvas. Continue reading

  • Crocheting the Birdhouse Border Bookmark

     I mailed this lovely project off to my Mamaw yesterday.

    The Birdhouse Border Bookmark from Thread Bookmarks seems like the perfect Mother's Day gift for this particular grandmother.  And I didn't even realize it at first!  I'd initially planned on making the Crowning Touch bookmark for her (you thread a ribbon through it!  That's so cool!), but discovered I was wrestling with chains and stitch counts and tiny-yarn-wrangling way beyond my ken.  When I flipped through Thread Bookmarks again and saw the picture for this project, I knew I would be okay.  The center is just rows of double crochet stitches, and there are two very simple rows for the border.  I checked the instructions and got right to it!  I knew it would be a quick enough project that I could finish in time for Mother's Day while still doing motherly things with my own daughter.

    I cannot be a mother and count stitches.  I've learned this the hard way, and many times over.  I've finally made my peace with it, and only stick with simple and repetitive stitch patterns when I'm around my inquisitive little chatterbox.  Mamaw always made it look so easy!  Dinner on the stove, TV blaring in the background, kids in the floor, a phone ringing with church news--all of that apparently creates an environment that's perfect for working on a thread crochet table cloth the size of a small car.  I, however, waited until I had a quiet house to myself and worked my two itty bitty rows in silence and with no distractions.

    But at least I didn't mess it up!  Hooray for the little things!

    Working with such a tiny hook is still tricky for me.  I used a steel hook that's a Size 10, and sometimes I feel like I'm just sliding it in the general direction of the thread and hoping something will catch.  But it's starting to feel a little less strange to me the more I try it.  Plus, I've always thought thread crochet was insane and impressive.  After my first attempt at it, I immediately thought that I should make gifts for both of my grandmothers who taught me to crochet.  First of all, because they deserve crocheted gifts.  And secondly, um, because I kind of want to try to impress them.

    It's silly, I know.  I am nowhere near their levels of awesome.  And I'm certainly not a four-year-old who should be praised for her efforts at crafting.  But.  Those ladies know crocheting, and they know what it means to receive a handmade gift.  If I could give back just a fraction of what they've given me, then surely they'll feel all the love and gratitude I am trying to convey to them.  Right?

    I hope so.

    Plus, this is the Birdhouse Border Bookmark.  My papaw used to build birdhouses and my mamaw would paint them.  I have happy memories of backyard bird-watching with them, and of painting birdhouses for a fun craft project.  And I have even more happy memories of reading book after book with my mamaw.  So this feels perfect to me.  I didn't even know the name of the pattern until I had completed this project and was checking the pattern name for my notes on this.  What can I say?  When I got started on this, I was doing mother things with the aforementioned chatterbox daughter!  I loved this project even more when I realized what I had made.  The points of the border look like little birdhouse rooftops, and I catch myself smiling every time I think of Mamaw pressing this bookmark in between the pages of her Bible.  I'm sure she'll be more excited by the stack of pictures I also sent with this, but I think she'll like this.

    I'm pretty pleased with it myself.

  • Gift Ideas for Mother's Day! There's Still Time!

    Mother's Day is just a few short days away, and if you don't have something yet for the special mom/moms/mom figures in your life you might want to get on that.  I'm here to help.

    Yes, a better blogger would have prepared a list of patterns to knit or samplers to stitch weeks ago, and so would a better daughter.  But y'all (and my mom) just have me.

    We'll get through this.  We always have.

    (Hi, Mom!  Thanks for always reading!)

    No surprise, I'm a big advocate of DIY gifts.  Part of this is due to my lack of funds, and part of it can be chalked up to my crafting tendencies.  Mostly, though, I was raised to believe that things you make with your hands carry a significance that just can't be bought.  Handmade things carry emotion and time and your own special skills that you used to make something to suit your own special gift recipient.

    And who is more special than your mom?  Or your grandma?  Or that nice neighbor who always had time for you?  Or anyone else you like to celebrate on Mother's Day?  You may have guessed I like to share a lot of the love on Mother's Day.  Here are just a few of the ways you can share that love with your special mom figures.

    1. Dinner.  No, I am not talking about taking someone out to lunch on Mother's Day.  I'm actually begging you NOT to do that. You would have a more peaceful time at a livestock auction.  I know this because I've been to livestock auctions and they seemed less crowded than a restaurant on Mother's Day and there were fewer people yelling about money. Ugh. Go out to eat on the Tuesday after Mother's Day.  Or better yet, make dinner yourself.  Only do this if you're a moderately good cook.  (This is why my husband is the designated dinner-cooker.)  It doesn't have to be a fancy dinner--it just has to be tasty.  Bonus points if you don't ask Mom how she "always makes XYZ" and you remember to clean up afterwards.
    2.  A nice experience.  It could be a weekend camping trip, a walk through a museum, or the promise of everyone leaving the house/everyone coming to the house (the difference between a mom's idea of a good time and a grandma's idea of a good time is pretty stark).  As long as it's something that brings your recipient joy, it's a good gift.
    3. Pictures.  If you're an adult, this can feel a little silly.  Your special person does not care.  I have rarely seen my parents as excited as I did the time we gave them portraits of us for their anniversary--my siblings and I were all in our twenties and there were no adorable grandchildren.  I once did a year-in-review style photobook for my mother-in-law featuring my husband and his ridiculously camera-averse brothers, and she loved it.  She would have loved it more if they smiled and had gotten more frequent haircuts that year, but a big part of being a mom is remembering to manage your expectations.  I'm not in the habit of taking lots of pictures of myself, but I like to occasionally order little brag books of my little girl to send to my grandmothers who live far away.  You can use Walgreens, Wal-Mart, Snapfish, Shutterfly....there are so many others.  And several of these sites offer express shipping!  I think I You might need it by this point.
    4. Something handmade.  If your mom likes scarves, make her one.  If she likes to cook, decorate an apron. Paint a flower pot for the gardener.  Give her a stack of crocheted dishcloths because I think that is an appropriate gift to give to anyone at any time.  Heck, just draw a nice little sketch on the inside of your card!  Doing that extra little something with your own two hands just adds a wonderful personal touch.
    5. Something she can make with her hands.  May I remind you that this is a blog for a craft pattern publication company?  Head over to Leisure Arts and if you see something that reminds you of a special lady you love, then go ahead and purchase it for her!
    6. Whatever she wants.  If she says "Oh, I just want the whole family to be together," then you'd better haul everyone down there for a visit and bring some flowers.  My gift for my own mom isn't especially personal this year, but it's something I know she wants and I think she'll like it.  And that's all I'll say about it because, like I said, she's a super supportive mom and reads this.   Moms and aunts and grandmas and extra special Sunday school teachers are all deserving of a little--probably a lot--of extra love and attention on their day.

    I hope this helps!  If nothing else, you can either give something wildly expensive or a homemade card.  Those are always winners--especially the handmade card.  (Note to self....give everyone's favorite granddaughter some more glue and buttons!)

    What are your go-to gift ideas for Mother's Day?

    This post was originally published on May 7, 2013.  I don't think moms have changed very much in the past year, and I certainly haven't gotten any wiser or creative with my gift ideas.  So I'm recycling this post in case you haven't seen it.  Enjoy!

  • Gift Ideas for Mother's Day

    Mother's Day is just 5 short days away, and if you don't have something yet for the special mom/moms/mom figures in your life you might want to get on that.  I'm here to help.

    Yes, a better blogger would have prepared a list of patterns to knit or samplers to stitch weeks ago, and so would a better daughter.  But y'all (and my mom) have me. 

    We'll get through this.  We always have. (Hi, Mom!  Thanks for always reading!)

    No surprise, I'm pretty big on DIY gifts.  Part of this is due to my lack of funds, and part of it can be chalked up to my crafting tendencies.  Mostly, though, I was raised to believe that things you make with your hands carry a significance that just can't be bought.  Handmade things carry emotion and time and your own special skills that you used to make something to suit your own special gift recipient. 

    And who is more special than your mom?  Or your grandma?  Or that nice neighbor who always had time for you?  Or anyone else you like to celebrate on Mother's Day?  You may have guessed I like to share a lot of the love on Mother's Day.  Here are just a few of the ways you can share that love with your special mom figures.

    1. Dinner.  No, I am not talking about taking your mother or grandmother out to lunch on Mother's Day.  I'm actually begging you NOT to do that. You would have a more peaceful time at a livestock auction.  I know this because I've been to livestock auctions and they seemed less crowded than a restaurant on Mother's Day and there were fewer people yelling about money. Ugh. Go out to eat on the Tuesday after Mother's Day.  Or better yet, make dinner yourself.  Only do this if you're a moderately good cook.  (This is why my husband is the designated dinner-cooker.)  It doesn't have to be a fancy dinner--it just has to be tasty.  Bonus points if you don't ask Mom how she "always makes XYZ" and you remember to clean up afterwards.
    2.  A nice experience.  It could be a weekend camping trip, a walk through a museum, or the promise of everyone leaving the house/everyone coming to the house (the difference between a mom's idea of a good time and a grandma's idea of a good time is pretty stark).  As long as it's something that brings your recipient joy, it's a good gift.
    3. Pictures.  If you're an adult, this can feel a little silly.  Your mom person does not care.  I have rarely seen my parents as excited as I did the time we gave them portraits of us for their anniversary.  I once did a year-in-review style photobook for my mother-in-law featuring my husband and his ridiculously camera-averse brothers, and she loved it.  She would have loved it more if they smiled and had gotten more frequent haircuts that year, but a big part of being a mom is remembering to manage your expectations.  I'm not in the habit of taking lots of pictures of myself, but I like to occasionally order little brag books of my little girl to send to my grandmothers who live far away.  You can use Walgreens, Wal-Mart, Snapfish, Shutterfly....there are so many others.  And several of these sites offer express shipping!  I think I You might need it by this point.
    4. Something handmade.  If your mom likes scarves, make her one.  If she's a big cook, decorate an apron. Paint a flower pot.  Give her a stack of crocheted dishcloths.  Heck, draw a nice little sketch on the inside of your card.  Doing that extra little something with your own two hands just adds a wonderful personal touch.
    5. Something she can make with her hands.  Leisure Arts is currently having a sale for Mother's Day, and if you see something that reminds you of a special lady you love, then go ahead and purchase it for her!
    6. Whatever she wants.  If she says "Oh, I just want the whole family to be together," then you'd better haul everyone down there for a visit and bring some flowers.  My gift for my mom isn't especially personal this year, but it's something I know she wants and I think she'll like it.  And that's all I'll say about it because, like I said, she's a super supportive mom and reads this.  (Don't worry, Mom!  You're also getting baby pictures!)  Moms and aunts and grandmas and extra special Sunday school teachers are all deserving of a little--probably a lot--of extra love and attention on their day.

    I hope this helps!  If nothing else, you can either give something wildly expensive or a homemade card.  Those are always winners--especially the handmade card.  What are your go-to gift ideas for Mother's Day?

  • Honoring Creative Women on Mother’s Day

    {Hey Everybody! We’ve got a guest blogger here on Everyday Life at Leisure for today! Welcome Susan Wiles, Leisure Arts Special Projects Director, as she shares her Mother’s Day tale of a crocheted bedspread and some creative women!}


    In these days of super bulky yarn and jumbo stitches, the sight of an entire bedspread crocheted in size 10 cotton thread recently made me stop and stare. But it wasn’t just the beauty of the bedspread that was so amazing—it was also the fact that this tremendous piece of handwork was being used on a daily basis!

    The discovery came during an impromptu tour after a dinner party at the home of my friend Jane Thompson. As you can see in the photo, the detail work in the bedspread is outstanding. Each hexagonal motif is densely stitched and accented with a center ruffle, rounds of lacework, and dozens of tiny bobbles.

    This is the kind of crochet that my grandmother used to do, so it stirred a special place in my heart. Granny’s work was so beautiful, with smooth, even tension in every stitch, and she continued doing it (although switching from thread to yarn) until the very end of her life at age 93. Our family is large, but I think just about everyone was given some of her crochet (or quilts) at some point in time. Such keepsakes are a comfort to have when the loved one who made them is no longer with us. 

    I still miss my Granny, but I’m so glad she taught me how to crochet while I was sitting there at her elbow so many times. Her birthday was April 30, so I was thinking of her the other day, and thinking about all the women everywhere in the world who are just like her, investing their time making beautiful creations for their homes and their families.

    Happy Mother’s Day to all of you, and I hope you get to spend some time doing something you love, whether it’s knitting or crochet or just hugging the kids.

    When I told Jane that I wanted to write about her bedspread for the Leisure Arts blog, she graciously shared what she knew about it:

    “Here’s the story of Zdenka Vasek Thompson and her amazing bedspreads. Yes, plural. I believe there are three in existence. 

    “To some extent, if you’ve read Willa Cather’s My Antonia, you already know some of Zdenka’s story. The Czechs are to Nebraska what the Swedes are to Minnesota. Multitudinous. My grandmother was born in Prague and arrived with her parents in the new wave of immigration in the late 1880s. 

    “Zdenka’s father was a baker in Omaha, and that’s about all I know about that. She married James Thompson, who worked for the post office and with whom she raised three boys. There is a lively Czech community in Omaha, but I think the trend at that point in time was to assimilate quickly and seamlessly. I’m not aware that Zdenka continued any Czech traditions, at least with her own family, other than to produce kolaches once a year or so.”

    One thing Jane knows for sure is that Zdenka basically crocheted endlessly, requiring the family to make frequent visits to a little yarn shop to keep her supplied with crochet thread. 

    “Three bedspreads exist, as I’ve mentioned above—both my sister Elizabeth and I have one and our cousin Jim has the other. Jim’s mother had her bedspread appraised in the 1960s, and I think that it was valued then in the $800 range. Somehow I have a feeling that by 2012, it would be valued less rather than more. Anyway, my mother was inclined to keep the two bedspreads at our house ‘put up’ for best, so of course they lived a long while packed in boxes in the basement. 

    “When I set out for Minneapolis in 1973, I took one bedspread with me, and it lived in its box for a couple of years. At some point in a mode of transformation, I looked at all the stuff around me and thought—‘Why on earth is this living in a box? In fifty years someone will open the box and think—How nice. Here’s a rotten old bedspread.’ So, at that point, I made the decision to begin to use my bedspread (and good dishes and silverware) with the thought that if I ruin it, so be it. My sister has her bedspread on the bed in her guest room (formerly her daughter’s bedroom, and the bed being one of our childhood beds. I really like the continuity there.)

    “Back to 1975—the bedspread was kind of smelly and had a slight bit of discoloration, so I threw caution to the winds and put it in the washing machine on a very gentle cycle. Perfection. It turned out beautifully, and it’s been my primary bedspread now for forty years. 

    “Interestingly, an old friend from college visited me five years ago, took one look at the bedspread, and began to jump up and down. Her grandmother Cora made the same bedspread as well, although not with the ‘popcorn’ embellishments. So it must have been a common pattern in the 1950s.” 

    Jane went on to explain that she has many other crochet keepsakes that her grandmother made, such as potholders, place mats, tablecloths, doll clothes, and lengths of lace, and that she has enjoyed using them in her daily life through the years.

    “I think that Zdenka would be glad that my sister and I are using her handwork and are engaged with it,” she said. “In speaking with people who make things—print makers and bookbinders mostly—there’s such a feeling of disappointment when they make something for someone who then in turn declares it ‘too nice to use,’ so it’s put up on a shelf to look at. Artists and artisans make things to be used, and it was clearly Zdenka’s intent that her handwork be used. I’d like to think that this is one way to honor her memory. The other way is to manage to produce a decent batch of authentic prune kolaches; I continue to fail miserably at this but I keep trying.”

  • Cupcakes for Mother’s Day

    I’ve been hinting around to my kids that I’d really like to have cupcakes for Mother’s Day. I suspect I’m being ignored even though I’ve gone so far as to conveniently leave my copy of our Leisure Arts cookbook—Celebrating Cupcakes & Muffins right in the middle of the dining table for the past week…
    Seriously, who could resist this cupcakie goodness???
    Real Flower Cupcakes
    Fresh flowers are used to mark many special occasions. Why not use them to decorate cupcakes, too? (Just make sure to use edible flowers that were grown without pesticides.)
    Bananas About You!
    This simple cupcake is sure to be a favorite. For pizzazz, use multi-colored silicone cupcake liners!
    Country Wedding Cupcakes
    These pretty cupcakes make a lovely and light dessert, perfect for capping off a big festive meal. You could make several batches for serving at an engagement party, anniversary party, or a wedding.
    Strawberry Cheesecakes
    Delight the guests at your next affair by serving them their very own cheesecakes, topped with a strawberry (or blueberries or raspberries…)!
    Little Lemon Meringues
    Treat your guests to individual lemon meringue pies with this delicious recipe! Perfect for afternoon tea, Sunday brunch, or a grand finale dessert.
    White Rose Cupcakes
    When piping the frosting on this cupcake, you start in the center and work your way outward so that it looks like a rose.
    Garden of Flowers Cupcakes
    These pretty cupcakes are easy to make if you use prepared sugar flowers!
    Cocoa Nutty Mountain Cupcakes
    Love chocolate? These cupcakes feature a chocolate base, smooth chocolatey center, creamy chocolate frosting, and chocolate-coated almond topping.
    Ice Cream Cone Cupcakes
    These soft-serve style ice cream cone cupcakes are made by inverting baked cupcakes on top of flat-bottomed ice cream cones.
    Birthday Cake Cupcakes
    Stack these cupcakes in a tower to make a playful, easy-to-serve birthday or any day cake!
    Since cupcakes are so perfect for any occasion, I think they’d be especially perfect served to me this Mother’s Day! If you’re inspired to make cupcakes for your mom, get your copy of our Celebrating Cupcakes & Muffins right now! It’s available as a pdf download, so you can start baking right away!
  • A New Paper Crafts Idea Book & A Mother’s Day Gift Idea!

    Are you like me? Always waiting till the last minute? And now you’re desperately looking for a quick and meaningful Mother’s Day gift? Have I got some inspiration for you! Check out our new paper crafts idea book—Fast Scrapbooking with 4 x 6 Photos and some pretty pictures from inside it! I’m sure they’ll inspire you to put together a fast scrapbook album for mom! What a perfect Mother’s Day gift!
    Details, Details, Details:
    “Want to speed up your scrapbooking process and get caught up with your always-growing stack of photos? Fast Scrapbooking with 4 x 6 Photos from the editors of Creating Keepsakes scrapbook magazine can help! It includes hundreds of easy ideas for using your 4" x 6" photos straight from the printer, with little or no time-consuming cropping or re-sizing. Now you can spend less time fussing with your photos and more time completing layouts. The book is organized by the number of photos on each layout, which helps you quickly identify the layouts that will be most helpful to you. It also includes inspiring ideas for using 4" x 6" photos to create mini albums, photo gifts for the family, and home decor items.”
    Now for the inspiration…
    • Use a page with one photo the immortalize mom!
    • Create a page or more featuring two photos to show off the girls in the family…
    Display vintage photos of mom…
    Or a first home!
    • Add pages with three photos to feature the boys in the family (Are guy-themed pages as hard for you as they are for me?)…
    Share memories of a favorite vacation…
    Show off more kid pictures!
    • Use 4 photos to remember a trip to a favorite restaurant…
    Celebrate a holiday…
    Share something pretty…
    Or to show off even more kid pictures!
    • Feature five important photos by creating a wedding-themed page or two…
    Don’t leave out the family pets…
    How about a page of photos of mom making faces?
    • Need a montage of lots of little cropped photos? Here’s a way to get 16 on one page!
    Hope Fast Scrapbooking with 4 x 6 Photos inspires you to create a fabulously thoughtful Mother’s Day gift! Happy Scrapping and Happy Mother’s Day! 

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