Monday, May 9, 2022

A "Rainbow" Baby Quilt

 I made this quilt for a friend's baby. While I am all for full-on rainbows in the brightest shades possible, my friend prefers more muted/earth tones, so I chose a more natural rainbow color scheme for this quilt.

I chose this turquoise spatter fabric for the backing before I knew the baby's name, but it turns out it's perfect! Her name is Robin!

Love and HSTs,
Leah Joy

Monday, April 25, 2022

Halloween 2020

 Have you read any of The Princess in Black books by Shannon Hale?

If you haven't, I cannot recommend them highly enough. While they are technically aimed at elementary-aged readers, they are great books for everyone. (I started reading them before I even had kids.)

For Halloween (in 2020, yep, that long ago), Jo really wanted to be the Princess in Black, so it was only natural to dress Micah as her fellow superhero, the Goat Avenger!

Jo's costume consisted of: 
- black rain boots, black leggings, and black gloves (already had)
- black skirt (bought for the occasion)
- black shirt (bought for this, then painted with the magnolia flower)
- a black cape (I was going to make one, but then Dollar Tree had them and that's way easier)
- a black mask (I sewed hers from 2 layers of felt and a strip of elastic)
- and a sparkly tiara (found one on Amazon for $5, the Dollar Tree ones seem to be meant for doll heads).

Micah's costume was actually more complicated, although the result is still simplified from the Goat Avenger's costume in the books. I chose a yellow shirt and jeans that he already had, and just had him wear his sneakers instead of boots (his current rain boots have cherries on them). We skipped the suspenders, gloves, and staff. And the rest I made.

The mask is from the same basic pattern as Jo's (a pattern I made by drawing a rough shape on paper, pressing it on Jo's face, then making changes, pressing it to her face again, etc. until she was sick of it.) just in brown.

Rather than sew in burlap, I chose a basic brown knit for the rest of the accessories. The cape is very basic - I just traced Jo's. The belt - which is not super visible in any of these pictures - is just a doubled over strip of the same brown knit, with little cow bells (goat bells, really) stitched to it - fastened with hook-and-loop. It was super adorable for that night, and was immediately hidden the next day because that's annoying.

His hat was the hardest part and definitely the part I'm proudest of. I had to find a way to insert both goat ears and horns, and while Micah's goat ears stick out sideways more than the Goat Avenger's, I still think it looks pretty cute.

Jo's ninja moves are so fast they're just a blur.


Love and Goats,

Monday, April 18, 2022

Christmas 2021

Season's Greetings! (Not sure which season, but sure.)

I recently shared our family ornament from 2020, and here's the one we made for 2021:

Jo and Micah both got really involved in helping with this one. I cut the wire and counted out the correct number of wooden beads, and they both strung all the beads on. Then I shaped them into wreaths and the kids did most of the painting. Once everything dried, Jo helped with the ribbons, cutting the ends where they were too long. It's fun to see them be able to be more involved as they get older.

Micah is obsessed with Star Wars this year. He has now seen some of the Lego Star Wars cartoons, but he was obsessed when all he had was the Star Wars Block book. He absolutely loves BB-8, or, as he calls him, Baby 8. I commissioned Caleb's sister to crochet one from a cute pattern we found, and it turned out fabulous - only at least 8" tall - a bit too big for a tree ornament! But perfect for a stuffed "animal". Micah loves to carry around his "ornament Baby-8" and love on him. And I stitched this up in a couple days to serve as his actual tree ornament from the year:
I am particularly proud of Jo's ornament this year. She has been into fairies and magic all year, so making a little fairy made sense. I found some reference images on Pinterest/Etsy, but didn't love any of them as they were - bits and pieces of them needed to be mixed together. (See: idea 1, idea 2, idea 3)

I had a craft weekend event at church, and just brought most of my craft supplies - embroidery floss, pipe cleaners, ribbon, hot glue, glitter, etc. I also had purchased several fake flowers from the dollar store just for this project - the blue petals with the darker edges came that way, which was super nice! From Hobby Lobby, I had purchased a set of wood doll pins and these amazing wings (they really make the project that much better!).

I took several hours to make this, just playing around, and I am so happy with how she turned out! My sister made the fairy wand, which completes her perfectly!

Love and Glitter,
Leah Joy

Monday, April 11, 2022

Quarantine Hobby #2: Cross-Stitch

 When I started to realize quarantine was going to last 'a bit' longer than 2 weeks, I decided to try my hand at cross-stitching. Turns out, I love it. Most people seem to find coloring soothing and relaxing, but it just stresses me out. (Are my marker lines straight? Does this look right? Is this the right color?) My hand ends up clenched around my marker while my shoulders are hunched over so I can focus even harder. Not very relaxing. Cross-stitch is to me what I imagine coloring is to, well, normal people.

Today I'm going to blast you with pictures of the projects I've made since I started (not all of them) because this is my blog and I can. You don't have to look.

I began with several kits from Hobby Lobby, but once I decided that yes, this is the hobby for me, I began purchasing digital patterns from Etsy. This was my first Etsy pattern. (All links to patterns/shops under each picture.)

Pattern by JackTheStitcher

This next one was a Christmas gift for my sister. I chose a blue/teal/green color scheme instead of the original because it fits her taste better.

Pattern by AlitonEmbroidery

This was a gift for my mom. I didn't want to buy new floss, and the colors in the original pattern were a little more fluorescent that my mom prefers, but I think I went too dark. She says she loves it, but then again, she's my mom - what else is she going to say?

Pattern by AlitonEmbroidery

I also decided to give blackwork a try. Blackwork is cross-stitch's fancy cousin, and turns out, I also love blackwork! This was a gift for my sister-in-law. I used DMC 121 - Delft blue variegated floss, avoiding the extremely pale sections of floss.

Pattern by PeppermintPurple

This one was a gift for a Lord of the Rings loving friend. I actually bought all the colors recommended in the pattern for this one, because it was about 20 different shades of green, and I didn't know if I'd get the subtle changes right trying to pick them out myself.

Pattern by AvocadoStitchery

This next one was just for me! I loved doing blackwork so much, I decided to try another pattern from Peppermint Purple.

Pattern by PeppermintPurple

This was a gift for a friend who loves F. Scott Fitzgerald.

Wreath pattern (free) - text is self-drafted

This is another Peppermint Purple blackwork pattern I made just for me. (I'm thinking of a blackwork gallery wall somewhere in my house.)

Pattern by PeppermintPurple

This next one was for my mom and is certainly the most complicated (and maybe also the coolest).

Before backstitching (outlining)

After backstitching

Pattern from MaddisonPatterns

For my sloth-loving friend:

Pattern by StitchingLand

I really need to start remembering to take pictures after I've ironed and framed the projects. Here's another one with my hoop creases all over it. :) This was a gift for my sister-in-law.

Pattern by StitchingLand

For a friend, but I might need to make one for myself, too. :)

Pattern by AlitonEmbroidery

And finally, this beautiful set of blackwork teacups for my sister. (The original pattern had steam coming off the top, but I left that out.)

Pattern by PeppermintPurple

Well, that's certainly not all the projects I've made, but probably just over half. (I forgot to take pictures of the rest!) I really really love cross-stitching - and finding cool patterns on Etsy, although I currently have about 12 I've purchased that I still have to make, so....

Love and Blackwork,


P.S. Bonus project - not specifically cross-stitch, but cross-stitch's other cousin, chain stitching - I made this pillow for my friends who love Downton Abbey. This is their favorite quote and they said they really wanted a pillow with this quote on it, but for some reason, the Downton Abbey merchandising department didn't want to put this quote on anything.

Self-drafted pattern

Monday, March 28, 2022

Quarantine Hobby #1: Watercolor

It's March 2020. I've just heard the news that everything is going to be shut down for "two weeks to slow the spread". (HAH.) On my weekly grocery trip, I decide to cruise the craft aisles at Meijer for anything to help keep the kids occupied - and maybe myself. Stickers? Yes. Crayola ColorWonder books? Throw 'em in the cart. Clearance watercolor kits? I've never tried that before, sure sounds good.

After watching a few YouTube tutorials of how to get started, these were some of my first "pieces". (That's too fine a word for what I do!)

Turns out the paper and brushes you use have a bigger impact on your final outcome than your paints do, so after realizing I like painting with watercolors (and that the paper and brushes that came with the paints were crap), I invested $15 in a good brush, and bought some slightly better watercolor paper at Hobby Lobby.

Here's my next set. I decided to make bookmarks because it's a small, unintimidating canvas. (Plus I got to use my laminator! So fun!)

When shopping for watercolor paper, I had picked up a 4x6 pad of the same paper, so I tried making notecards.

Turns out, I really like this! (And they make great gifts.) (Although I now prefer to work on 12x12 paper and cut it down to size - I can get 6 cards and 2 bookmarks from a page that size and it's more cost-effective.)

I even got conscripted to make some bookmarks for my cousin's wedding favors!

Mostly, I just have fun browsing Pinterest for fun ideas and then trying them out. I've recently discovered using skinny washi tape as a resist method. (So many fun ideas with that!)

I really enjoy painting with watercolors. I will most likely never be up to painting anything realistic looking, and I don't even know that I want to, but it's very relaxing to just play with the paint!

Love and Washi Tape,
Leah Joy

Monday, March 21, 2022

Christmas 2020 - yep

Okay, we all already know I was quite far behind in this blog, so enough ado already about how late this post is.

For Christmas 2020, Jo and I made little bells for our en masse ornament. (See previous years posts here: 2019 2018 2017 2016 2015 2013 2012 2011)

We used small wooden dollhouse flower pots from Hobby Lobby that we painted in all different patterns. After they dried, we strung a jingle bell on the inside and tied a cute bow around the hanging ribbon.


Jo was super into The Princess in Black in 2020, so I painted this ball ornament to be like Princess Magnolia on one side and The Princess in Black on the other side. My sister made the tiara - and it rotates with the ball ornament.

For Micah, I picked up a package of tiny bottle brush trees from the dollar store, along with a construction vehicle also from the dollar store. A little bit of hot glue, some Epsom salts and glitter later, and we have this snowy ornament:

Love and Lights,
Leah Joy

Monday, March 14, 2022

A Few Birthday Cakes

Here are a few of my favorite cakes I've made over the last year and a half. The first is Jo's 5th birthday cake. Her birthday is always around Thanksgiving, so it's tricky to throw her a birthday party. For her 5th birthday, we tacked her celebration onto Thanksgiving, so she got two "birthday parties", one with each side of the family. I used my 6" cake pans (that I purchased for Pete and Chloe's wedding cake) and made two small 2-layer cakes.

My family always gets my decorating experiments. I kind of like this one!

Micah's 3rd birthday cake was a construction cake, because this boy loves all things "twucks".

This was a very different style for me to try, but I had fun with it!

Photo credit to my friend Jenny

In 2021, my sister had her golden birthday - she turned 23 on the 23rd! I made her a golden chocolate cake!

I tried my first ever drip cake, which was a bit less successful than I was hoping for. To get a nice gold drip, you can either drip white chocolate ganache and then paint it (which sounded like waaaaay too much work) or make a gold drip out of luster dust and vodka (the alcohol evaporates off). I chose the luster dust/vodka method, but my mixture was too liquidy, so it dripped much faster than expected.

I made the number cake toppers out of a gold glitter foam sheet from Hobby Lobby and some toothpicks.

I used lots of gluten-free chocolate candies, some of which I cut and/or painted with more luster dust. I purchased several kinds of gold sprinkles as well, and made chocolate bark with gold accents to decorate the back of the cake. (Unfortunately, I either used too much chocolate bark, or gluten-free cake isn't as sturdy as regular cake - or both? - and the cake started to fall apart on the party day. Thankfully, broken cake still tastes good!)

Love and Sprinkles,
Leah Joy