Saturday, April 30, 2011

What do you think?

I attended an antique automobile swap meet with my husband today (payback for making him go to the button show, I guess) and we came across these:

antique sewing machine tractors

They're tractors made from old sewing machines. Maybe you've seen them before.

Making something new out of something old is quite popular right now, and while I agree 100% with the sentiment, sometimes I just have a hard time with it in practice. I mean... I like tractors as much as the next Iowan... but did this really improve the sewing machines? Did it make them more useful? I get that there are millions of these old machines lying around in people's garages and attics... so maybe it's all good. But is there a line that's being crossed here? It's one thing to make jewelry out of old buttons, to repaint old worn out furniture to fit a more modern style or to use vintage postcards and ephemra in artwork... But retrofit a beautiful sewing machine to be a cutesy tractor? To me, this is akin to making a lamp out of a clarinet... or flipping an old schoolhouse bell upside down and using it as a planter. On one hand, I see these things and think, wow, that is fun and clever - maybe even ingenius... but on the other hand... I'm just not not sure if I'm quite comfortable with it. [Full disclosure: I realize this may have something to do with my museum/preservation background]

I have mixed feelings about this. I'd love to hear what you all think about this trend! (not just the tractors, but the repurposing of old stuff in general... is is possible to go too far? Is there a right way, or is it all about personal preference? No judging here... all opinions are welcome!!)

Update: Thanks so much for your thoughtful comments. I have decided that it all comes down to preference, and any creation that keeps an old piece out of a landfill is a good idea to me! :) [and yes, I agree that the tractors are kinda cute] Also, see my note to Sarah in the comments!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Peeps Wrap-Up

Hope everyone had a wonderful Easter! Mine was great... I colored eggs, went to a concert in the park, saw lots of cute puppy dogs, had a yummy dinner and got my first sunburn of the season!

I hope you'll indulge me for just one more Peeps-related post... I've had such fun this season and my patterns were so popular, that I just had to share a few more fun tidbits.

First, the results of my informal Peeps poll...

Over the last couple weeks, 131 people voted in my poll about how they prefer their Marshmallow Peeps. I found that of those people who voted, only 28% dislike Peeps, while the other 72% love them. In real life, I have found the Peeps lovers and haters to be more of a 50:50 split.  Possibly the poll was skewed in favor of Peeps because it was more likely for Peeps lovers to visit my blog to see the plushie patterns. Or, maybe all those people who tell me to my face that they hate Peeps are actually Peep lovers in disguise.

What do you think?

results of informal peeps poll

Of those polled who claimed to love Peeps, there was quite a noticable difference in how they prefer to eat the candy. 30% of respondents prefer their Peeps straight out of the box. A very similar number of people (27%) like to eat Peeps that have set out for a few days and become a bit stale and chewier. Only 15% of respondents claimed to like their Peeps in any way, shape, or form.

I guess that this poll proved something we probably knew all along: people are very opinionated when it comes to Marshmallow Peeps candy. You either love 'em or you hate 'em... but even if you love 'em, there is a good chance that you have a strong preference for how they should be eaten.

results of informal peeps poll

A very informational poll, if I do say so myself. :p

I know I've said it before, but I was thrilled with the response to my patterns, and now that I've seen some of the creations and posts inspired by them, it makes me even more excited. Unfortunately, I can't share everybody's, but I thought these mini-peep hairclips were adorable, this peep party sounds like fun, and these little peeps turned out just perfect for Easter! [FYI, if there are any quilters out there, Cookie Nut Creations, a blog that featured my pattern here is hosting an I Spy Quilt Block Swap and is still looking for more participants... looks like lots of fun!] To see more finished Peeps, check out my Flickr page - so many cute examples. Also, please add your photos if you made any yourself! I've just had so much fun getting to know so many great bloggers and readers in the last month... THANK YOU EVERYONE!!! :)

And finally, a couple more Peep related items...

You should definitely check out the Washington Post's 2011 Peeps Show... amazing! Though the winner has already been chosen (a diorama inspired by the Chilean miners' rescue), voting is still open for the crowd favorite! I just had to vote for the entry inspired by the book "The Very Hungry Caterpiller" - so creative and artsy!!

Also, check out this video for a funny Easter prank!

Ok, I promise I'm done now! :)

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Jellybean Garland Tutorial

Here's one more tutorial, just in time for Easter! For some reason, I seem to be on an Easter candy kick this year... and what candy is [nearly] as quintessential at Eastertime as Marshmallow Peeps? Why, jellybeans of course!

I think everyone should have a cheerful jellybean garland to decorate their home! And this project is so easy that you still have plenty of time make it before the big day!

felt jellybean garland tutorial

You will need:
  • colorful felt
  • thread
  • polyester stuffing
  • embroidery floss or string
First, draw a large jellybean on a piece of cardboard or heavy paper. This will be your pattern. Now, I'm not going to insult your intelligence by attaching a template... I'm going to assume you've all completed kindergarden and can draw this simple shape! [but if you beg, I just might cave] Just to give you an idea, though, my jellybean pattern was about 4.5 inches long by 2.5 inches wide. But make it in the size that looks best to you! 
For each jellybean, you will need to cut 2 pieces of felt. My jellybean garland is 21 jellybeans long, so I cut 42 pieces - 6 pieces each of 7 different colors of felt.

felt jellybean garland tutorial

Next, pair two matching colors of felt together and begin sewing them together along the edges, leaving about 1/4" margin all the way around. 

felt jellybean garland tutorial

When you have about 2" left open, stuff the jellybean with a bit of polyester stuffing. This takes a little bit of finesse to do while the piece is still attached to the sewing machine, but I found that pushing the stuffing in with the eraser end of my pencil helped a lot. Remember, you don't need to add much, just enough to make the jellybean a little puffy and three-dimensional.

felt jellybean garland tutorial

Then finish sewing the jellybean closed and backstitch to secure. At this point I trimmed around the edge of my jellybean to make sure everything lined up neat and tidy.

felt jellybean garland tutorial

That's it! Now, make a whole bunch more!

felt jellybean garland tutorial

When you're satisfied with the size of your jellybean pile, it is finally time to turn them into a garland.

Now there are probably lots of ways to attach the jellybeans... you could use a ribbon or twine... you can attach them all the same direction, or alternate their orientation like I did. I'm sure you can think of lots of other ideas. I decided that the easiest way was to simply sew them together with a piece of white embroidery floss. I sewed "X's" to attach each jellybean to the next in line. If you don't like the look, you could also sew them in a way that the place of attachment is more hidden. Up to you!

At this point, I put a drop of clear nail polish (or glue!) on each of the knots, just so that the garland won't fall apart when it is hung up!

felt jellybean garland tutorial

I decided to hang mine on our fireplace. And even though I haven't had any luck getting a decent picture this whole week (it's been dark and stormy every day!), I think it turned out rather cute!

felt jellybean garland tutorial

Now, go make your own! And enjoy! :)

felt jellybean garland tutorial

Don't forget! If you'd like to share your creations, please add a photo to the Dandelions & Lace Flickr Group! I love seeing everyone's projects! :)

Shared at:

Katie's Nesting Spot

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

13. Get a piano

Well, nobody guessed my surprise yesterday, so I'm just going to have to tell you... we got a piano this weekend!!

antique piano

My husband and I have been talking about purchasing a piano for a long time. I've played since fourth grade and have really missed it these last few years. We'd been going back and forth about whether to buy a new piano or an old piano (new pianos are recommended because old pianos usually require a lot of work... but if you know me, you can probably guess that I really, really wanted a beautiful antique one!)

Well, we talked and talked, and then one day, this one just fell into our lap.

antique piano

Let me rephrase that... we did have to go pick it up, but it was offered to us for free!
We love it, but know that it's going to need quite a bit of work before it will be in playable condition. Many of the keys stick - I can't even plunk out a simple melody because so many of the keys are sticky. But I have my fingers crossed that everything can be repaired and it will be a wonderful addition to our household for years to come.  And if it can't be fixed or it's not economically feasible to fix it? Well, it was free... so we'd only be out the time it took to pick it up.

antique piano

I think it's gorgeous. Solid red mahoghany. Beautiful carvings. They just don't make pianos like this anymore... at least not anywhere near our price range! It will need a little bit more cleaning up before it will be perfect, but I know it will be wonderful once we're finished with it!

antique piano

I also love the history that comes along with an older piece. How many children learned to play on this piano? I'll never know, but I can imagine. The lady who gave it to us was a piano major in college, and she told us that her father trucked the piano to her dorm room each year so that she could practice on it! How many pianos have done that?!

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I am still so excited! (Plus, I completed another of my 30 before 30 goals... without even breaking a sweat!!!)

Monday, April 18, 2011

A nice weekend

Thank you everyone for your uplifting comments to my last post. I was feeling a little down last week and though my intent was certainly not to bring you all down with me, it is so nice to hear that others have the same feelings sometimes.

I had a nice weekend, though it was a super-fast one. Busy, busy, busy. I didn't feel like I even had a chance to sit down! But that's alright, because most of the weekend revolved around the special lady in the middle of the photo. My husband's grandmother celebrated her 80th birthday this weekend and I was so happy that we were able to share it with her.

Concerts, special dinners, and oh my... the desserts!!

I've been working on some projects myself as well and I hope to share a fun little Easter craft with you all this week.

Our weekend also brought us a new addition to the household... something that makes me really, really excited. [see photo below] Can anyone guess what? Here's a hint. Anyone who guesses gets a virtual high five!! (and Mom, you don't get to guess!)

Hope everyone has had a wonderful start to their week!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Hydrangeas are some of my favorite flowers. They remind me of home. There we had giant white puffball hydrangeas... it seems that all my life I've wanted to grow colored ones, but the soil in Iowa isn't acidic enough. Now that we're in Texas, where colored hydrangeas thrive, the first thing I did this spring was go to the greenhouse and buy some to plant. Depending on the soil, the variety I chose could be blue or pink. I'd be happy with either, but I'm even happier to say they seem to be a shade in between... blue with a hint of lavendar. Lovely.

I feel like I've been distant lately. I've been suffering from writer's block, I guess. I'm so thrilled to have so many new followers, but feel like I've been letting you all down by not having inspiring and fun things to write about. That's life for you!

Actually, I've been feeling utterly uncreative.

I recently read a letter written by author Ursula LeGuin:

My dear,

The creative adult is the child who survived.

The creative adult is the child who survived after the world tried killing them, making them “grown up”. The creative adult is the child who survived the blandness of schooling, the unhelpful words of bad teachers, and the nay-saying ways of the world.

The creative adult is in essence simply that, a child.

Truly yours,
Ursula LeGuin

I do like this idea and I used to feel like this was me. Lately, I'm not so sure. Maybe need a shot of youthfulness and fun. All I know is that adulthood and responsibilities are not very conducive to a creative life.

Maybe I'm wrong. I hope I'm wrong. Just need to find the balance.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Peeps for Cats

My kitty cats got their Easter treats early this year. Easter treats for cats, you say?

Yep, they got their own bite-sized versions of my marshmallow bunny and chick plushies. Spoiled cats!

I figured they deserved their own, since they sat in my craft room with me every night while I worked on the prototypes and design for the original marshmallow peeps patterns.

I just printed out the patterns at a reduced size, stuffed them with a mix of stuffing and catnip, and the cats can't get enough!

If you'd like to make your own, just print the bunny and chick patterns at 50% size. [Or, if your printer is being finicky like mine was, just choose the setting "2 pages per sheet" which will give you approximately 50% reduction in size]. I then cut out the fleece and handsewed the peeps according to the instructions on the pattern. You could probably machine sew these if you're skilled, but I was worried about messing up, so I just took it slow and did it by hand. Stuff with polyester filling and some catnip and your cats will love you forever!

marshmallow peeps cat toys

marshmallow peeps cat toys

marshmallow peeps cat toys

Also, if you haven't already, please vote in the Marshmallow Peeps Poll along the right hand column! I'm learning some very interesting things about the habits of both Peep-lovers and Peep-haters. :)

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Roses Everywhere!

The people who lived at our house before us must have loved roses, because we have about a dozen rose bushes in our yard. They are in every color imaginable - the full range of pinks... purple... dark red... yellow... orange... peach.

Roses have never been my favorite flower. Maybe they're too showy. Or too cliche. Maybe it's the thorns [hey, is there poison in those thorns? because I swear, every time one pokes me the cut gets infected]. Maybe it's the fact that I've always thought rose-scented sprays or perfumes are nauseatingly strong.

So it comes as a surprise for me to say that I've started loving roses. They are quite easy to take care of [as long as you wear gloves!] and make the yard so beautiful. Not to mention, I get the perfect lovely whiff of fresh flower every time I walk up to the front door.

I just had to share some photos of the roses that are now in bloom.

beautiful roses

Pretty in pink.

beautiful roses

My favorite: a miniature rosebush with yellow flowers changing to pink on the edges.


beautiful roses

Beautiful even in its imperfection.

beautiful roses

Just about ready to open!

beautiful roses

What a show!

Monday, April 4, 2011

Marshmallow Chick Plushies

And now for what so many of you have been waiting for . . . the

These cuties would be perfect in an Easter basket, hidden in the grass during an Easter egg hunt, or as a simple decoration in your home.

marshmallow chick plushie tutorial and pattern

This one was a lot trickier to design than the bunny, but I think they turned out rather adorable, if I do say so myself! Plus, they are actually a little easier to sew!

To make these sweet little birdies, click the button below to print the pattern and then continue underneath for a detailed photo tutorial.

You will need:
* less than 1/4 yard of fleece or felt (I used fleece because it is softer and fluffier, but felt would work fine as well)
* matching thread
* polyester stuffing
* dark brown embroidery floss for eyes

Cut fabric as directed on pattern. You will end up with 5 pieces: 2 head pieces, cut mirror image to each other, 1 chest piece, and 2 body pieces (one with rectangular cut-out in center).

Hand embroider eyes - one eye on front side of each head piece (the thicker, "fluffier" side of fleece is the front). I did a satin stitch in a small circle for both of the eyes. Don't know how to embroider? It's easy: How to make a satin stitch

Now, sew the head pieces together (right sides together) and sew together along top side only with 1/4" seams.

Next, pin the chest piece (right sides together) between the attached head pieces and sew together with 1/4" seams.

Flip head right side out. Your chick should now sort-of resemble a dolphin... or maybe that's just because mine is blue?!

marshmallow chick plushie tutorial and pattern

Now, pin head into the rectangle shaped hole in center of one body piece (right sides together). . .

. . . and sew together with 1/4" seams.

You're almost done!

Finally, flip head inside out again and pin second body piece (right sides together) to first body piece and sew together with 1/4" seams, leaving about 3 inches open for turning.

Flip the chick right side out, stuff with polyester filling and hand sew the opening closed. Your chicky is done!!

Sooo simple! :)

Now go make your own!

I'd love to see how everyone else's chicks and bunnies turn out! If you decide to make one (or many!), please add your photos to the Dandelions & Lace Flicker Group! If you don't use Flickr and you decide to blog or post photos of your plushies elsewhere, please leave me a comment with a link! Can't wait to see them!


 UPDATE: I've heard from a couple of people who had questions about printing the pattern. You should be able to open the pdf pattern in Google Drive by clicking the "CLICK HERE FOR PATTERN" button above. Once the pattern is open, click the PRINT button at the top left. Send me a note at if you have troubles!

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Pastries and Petals

To all of you checking for the new peep tutorial... I'm still working on it. I had some (mostly) happy distractions this weekend and just haven't quite finished. :)

Yesterday, my hubby and I went antiquing... and instead of antiques, we came home with these:



The town we visited to go antique shopping was just a little too close to West, Texas, a little Czech town known for its kolaches and baked goods. After our antique shopping was finished, instead of turning around and coming home, our car mysteriously headed farther away, in the direction of the wonderful smells.

We sat in the car by the train tracks and tasted a bit of each, but there were still plenty to bring home with us when we were finished.

It was an absolutely gorgeous day... the type you want to bottle up and save for those dreary winter days, and those ridiculously hot summer afternoons when you can't even step outside without roasting... if only. Fields of bluebonnets lined the highways, and sprinkled among them were pinkish-orange indian paintbrushes. (Sadly, I left my camera at home!) Lovely day for a drive.

Spring in Texas is perfect. I hope it hangs around for awhile. :)

How has spring been where you live?