Thursday, July 30, 2020

I Can Do That!

Hello crafty neighbors! I hope you are staying safe and healthy through all this crazy COVID situation, and if you are sheltering at home or working from home, I hope you’re not going too stir crazy.  It’s been a strange few months around here.  It seems like time is both speeding by and at a dead standstill. I don’t know how that’s possible, but it sure feels like the year is whizzing by, even though the days are all the same. My husband calls it “Blursday” because it’s often hard to tell what day it is -- the days all run together. In many ways, I feel like we are still in March, so how can it be near the end of July? What happened to all the time in between?
While nothing is really back to normal around here, we have managed to settle into some routines that help. Hubby is mostly still working from home, but he does have to go in from time to time.  We still aren’t allowing visits in our home from friends and family with the exception of my daughter and her soon-to-be family – we have too many wedding details to manage, so she really must be here. The wedding details have kept us super busy all summer, and I feel really bad that I haven’t kept up the blog posts about it as I had promised. Luckily, we’ve done so much work, I have plenty of material to do posts with, so I’m hoping to get back into the habit of sharing those details here.
My most recent wedding projects have been making all the floral arrangements. We opted to do our own rather than spend a fortune on fresh flowers that wilt in a day. I  had long admired the beautiful brooch bouquets I saw on Pinterest, so we thought we’d give that a try. You can see some of the one’s we liked on my Pinterest board here
I started by ordering a large variety of brooches on Amazon.  I’ve linked below to some of the ones we found. I was really surprised at how inexpensive they were, but a little bit disappointed in the availability of brooches in rose gold. Most of what we found was traditional gold and silver, and with the tiny pictures that are often used, it can be hard to tell. Some of the brooches we ordered looked rose gold but turned out to be gold instead. It was okay, they still worked, but that was not what we were looking for.
Actually starting on making the bouquets was a bit daunting, and I kept putting it off as long as I could because I’ve never really done any floral arrangements and I wasn’t sure if I had the skills. In actuality, it turned out to be quite fun, and I think I did a pretty good job of it for a novice. I think the hardest part was settling on the design – there are so many ways to do it! 
We originally planned to use the wooden dowel and Styrofoam ball method, but the more I looked at those, the less I liked that perfectly round design. An alternative was to buy plastic forms, which were ok, but didn’t really match the esthetic of Christen’s country chic theme. Besides, it would mean yet another trip to Michael’s or Hobby Lobby, and we wanted to save money. We settled on a more natural look using the faux stems on some pretty little floral bundles we bought at Michael’s. If you’re being ultra frugal, you could use these just the way they are; they were tied up with raffia and are pretty much a bouquet in their own right. You could add a bit of ribbon or lace to dress it up and you’re good to go.
We wanted to add a little more variety to the flowers, but we liked the faux stems on these. Luckily, they slide right off and can be used on pretty much any floral stem. When I had the shape and flower placement the way I wanted, I bundled them off with rubber bands to hold them in place and started adding the rhinestones.
There’s a lot of variation in brooch bouquets…everything from all brooches and no flowers to all flowers with just a few brooches. We wanted a mix of both. There are also several different methods of adding rhinestones to the flowers. Originally, we planned to turn the brooches into floral stems by wrapping floral wire through them.  This method works really well if you are using the Styrofoam base, but not so much for bundling with natural or faux flower stems. Instead, we used the more common hot glue method, and it worked very well since we had a mixture of brooches of different sizes, both with and without pin backs.
The first one I did was the tossing bouquet, since it is often a smaller, simpler version of the bride’s bouquet. I figured it would be good practice and it would be okay if it was less than perfect. Once I made that one and was satisfied with how it looked, I had the confidence to proceed with the others. I sorted the remaining flowers until I had a good mix for each of the three remaining bouquets (Maid of Honor, Matron of Honor, and the Bride), and bundled the flowers as I had done with the tossing bouquet.  Adding the brooches was quick and easy and I had them done in no time. I started with the largest brooches first, then filled in gaps with smaller and smaller pieces until I was satisfied. I can see how easy it would be to fill the whole things up with brooches!
[Hot glue tip:  To prevent those spider-web strands of glue on your projects, let go of the trigger and whip the gun in a circle like you’re beating eggs before pulling away from the project.]
The finishing touches on the bouquet were lace handle wraps.  The bride’s bouquet was wrapped with a David Tuterra wrap we bought at Michael’s (don’t forget to use your coupons!). I wrapped the others in lace we had on hand, turning the cut edge under and hot gluing it into place. I added pretty ribbons and a bow, and they were done.

I’m really proud and excited about these bouquets, especially since I had never done anything like this before. It was super simple to do, costs hundredsless than any brooch bouquet you could buy online, and it gave me the confidence to do the other floral arrangements we needed. I hope this gives you the confidence to make one, too!

To view a list of the brooches we purchased on, view our list here.

Friday, May 1, 2020

My Month in Quarantine (Part 3)

Happy National Scrapbook Day to all my crafty friends and followers!  I hope you are finding ways to be both crafty and social (in a safe way) today! I am currently enjoying a virtual retreat with some of my friends using Zoom, so I'm in my PJs, and snacking on a little taco dip and veggies.

A day or two ago, I mentioned a project I've been working on during this coronavirus lockdown.  So today I wanted to give you a little peak. On one of our wedding work days, Christen and I were talking about COVID-19 and what an unprecedented time in history this was (this was before the order to stay home). Not unlike the Spanish Flu epidemic in the early 20th century, this time in our lives was something that people of the future would not understand unless we spelled it out for them -- you just can't grasp the scope of something like this from a textbook or a few photos. So we decided that it was important to keep a COVID journal to document our lives during this time.  We are, of course, documenters and storytellers...that's why we scrapbook, right?

So in discussing this with one of our friends, we decided we needed to make a challenge of it.  We needed to come up with daily prompts a la Layout-a-Day, that would keep us all motivated and inspired to tell our stories.  I'm a little bit embarrassed to admit that I went back to an old Layout-a-Day list from the days when it was owned by Lain Ehman, and I repurposed that old list (with a few changes, of course) to be used for what we called our Stay-at-Home Challenge. For the entire month of April we had daily prompts (via automated emails) that led us through creating a journal of our time in "quarantine". The experience has been fun, creative, inspiring, and even a bit enlightening as we explore the many aspects of this pandemic and its affect on our daily lives. 

We all worked in different formats, including pocket pages, traditional scrapbooking, traveler's notebooks, and even Happy Planners.  I decided on a travelers notebook, and since this little challenge was something of a last-minute affair, I didn't have time to order one online, so I made my own.  (I may do a post about that soon!) I love the traveler's notebook because it's basically a blank slate, and it's just the right size for either journaling or photos. I've actually already filled one notebook (we started on April 1) and am well into my second (I ordered the others online).  There are so many stories to tell, I'm sure I'll have several of the books filled by the time this is all over.

When we started this project, we quickly found that there are a number of crafty celebs and others who are doing similar projects.  I've been following Layle Koncar and Heidi Swapp on Instagram and via blog.  They both have some great pages that are very inspiring.  And, most recently, Christen stumbled across The Isolation Journals created by Suleika Jaouad. This article is a great read and shares how the whole thing got started and why archiving these stories is important.

The point of all this is to share with you what we're doing, and I'm really excited about these journals. You can see most of what I've done so far on my Instagram and Facebook pages (linked here).  I'll leave you with a couple of pages below. Until next time, keep crafting!

Cindy Murray
Crafty Neighbor

Thursday, April 30, 2020

My Month in Quarantine (Part 2)

I just wanted to do a quick post to remind you about National Scrapbook Day coming up on May 2.  Many of you probably had plans to celebrate this little holiday by cropping or retreating with your friends. Most of those events have been cancelled due to COVID-19, but that doesn't mean you can't celebrate anyway -- even if you're not a scrapper!

I was supposed to be heading to a retreat on Thursday with several of my crafty friends, but the retreat decided to cancel their event. I'm so sad, especially since Scrapbook Expo in Irving was cancelled, and Great American Scrapbook Convention is now moved (very inconveniently) to the same weekend as my daughter's wedding (uhh...Christen, would it be okay if I duck out early to go crop? LOL Oh, you want to go, too?  Okay...). Seriously, though, I really wanted to crop with my friends, and I wanted to have that "retreat feeling", so we're going to make it happen, even if we have to all stay in our own homes.

I host a weekly crop at my house every Thursday, and when coronavirus decided to rear its ugly head, we decided to continue cropping via Zoom.  Zoom meetings is very easy to use, and I opted to pay for the premium service (for now) so we can have meetings longer than 40 minutes. We meet every Thursday at 10 AM and crop until 4PM or until everyone has to get offline to go make dinner. It's very much the same as having everyone here in person.  We work on whatever we're working on and we chat, and sometimes we get engrossed in our projects, so we don't talk at all, but we're still together.  And we get the satisfaction of being able to share our projects with each other. It's so much more fun than crafting alone.

A virtual crop with my Thursday MDO crop group.

For our National Scrapbook Day crop and retreat, we'll again be using Zoom, but we'll start on Friday morning and the crop will run continuously until Sunday afternoon, so everyone can come and go.  The idea is to treat it just like a real retreat, so I'm going to chase my family out of my craft area and put up a big sign that says, "Gone on a Retreat!" I'll even wear my pajamas and eat some junk food, just to make it feel real.  One of our friends is coordinating "door prizes" to be given away; everyone will dig through their stash to find a few items they no longer want or need. We'll take pictures to post in our Facebook group and we will have drawings throughout the event for people to pick which prizes they want.

You don't have to do something as elaborate as our little virtual retreat, but you should definitely consider doing something for National Scrapbook Day.  Some stores are posting that they are going to host events. Or you could join one of the many virtual crops already planned (just Google National Scrapbook Day Virtual Crop). Use Skype, Zoom, FaceTime or another video chat software to meet with friends.  Finding ways to be social, even when we're social-distancing, is important to our mental well-being. And besides, who can say "no" to an excuse to stay in your PJs and eat junk food?

Cindy Murray
Crafty Neighbor