Heart Handwarmers

I made these last Christmas for a bunch of my friends. They were a big hit at the gift exchange, so I’d say we have a winner.

You will need fleece, thread, needles and pins, scissors, rice, and a funnel.

Layer two pieces of fleece and cut into a square that is about 1 1/2 times the size of your palm.

Fold the two squares in half and cut a half heart out of the side with the fold. Remember when you were in elementary school and you made hearts in arts and crafts? Yeah, it’s like that.

And when you’ve got your heart all done, make sure you pin the sides so it doesn’t move around while you’re sewing.

Three pins works just fine for this little heart.

And if you cut anything like me, you’ll need to trim the edges to make them line up.

Now thread your needle, and tie about 3 knots in it (the fleece is more stretchy than most fabrics, so you have to tie more knots to keep it from pulling through). Start sewing the two pieces together with a whip stitch along the edge. A whip stitch, for you novice seamstresses (or seamsters, I suppose), is a really easy, basic stitch often used to close a hem. You insert the needle from one side of the fabric to the other at the edge, then bring the needle around to the exact same side and repeat the motion until you run out of thread or have to tie off. (And before you start thinking that I am an accomplished seamstress, I had to look this up to provide a tutorial because I didn’t know the proper terms!)

Keep going until you have a small opening that you can use to turn the heart inside out.

Now turn the heart inside out and go get your rice. I used jasmine rice because I’m hoping that when it’s heated up, it will smell nice.

Use a funnel to put enough rice to fill the heart, but leave enough room that the rice can move freely. It should feel more like a beanbag and less like a hackey sack.

Fold over the opening and use the whip stitch to close it off.

And there you go! A cute little heart handwarmer that will smell like jasmine (I hope) when it’s warmed up.

Side note: make sure you don’t overheat the rice, or it will stop warming up. My powerful microwave warms it up nicely at 1 minute 30 seconds.

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DIY Photo Coasters

These coasters were actually inspired by a gift from my friend Brenda. She made me this cute little coaster with pink and green scrapbook paper and flowers and it’s been brightening up my desk since my birthday! She said it was really easy to make, but I was kind of afraid to attempt it. I mean, there’s tile and polyurethane sealant. Not such a great combination for me…

But, my grandmother really loves pictures. I’ve given her paintings and professional photographs and frames in the past, which was great, but how could I possibly top a homemade painting for Christmas? Then the answer came: coasters with pictures of my aunt and uncles on them! It’s perfect! It’s original, thoughtful, and absolutely adorable.

Want to know how I made them? It’s not as hard as you think!

First, you will need: four tiles (you can get individual tiles at home improvement stores), Mod Podge, waterproof polyurethane sealant (available at craft stores in the paint section…yeah, it took me forever to find it), little self-stick felt circles (in the framing section, of all places), photocopied pictures, and paper of some kind to decorate the tile with.

And there’s what the sealant looks like. It looks expensive, but that little bottle only cost $2! And it’s lasted through 2 of these projects so far, and I think I still have over half of it left. Now what shall I use the rest of it on? Hmm…

So, it’s super important that you use only smooth, thin paper for the decoration. I once tried to Mod Podge a tree onto a canvas using this really cool textured brown paper for the trunk, and not only did it refuse to stick, but it ruined my entire canvas! Lesson learned. Or was it?

By the way, it really helps if you turn over the paper, trace the tile, and then cut it out. Trying to measure and draw a straight line for the sake of pride just isn’t worth it.

Now apply a base coat of Mod Podge to the clean tile. This gives the second layer something better to stick to.

Apply a second coat, and while it is still wet, press a cut out piece of scrapbook paper down until the edges don’t stick up anymore. Now, I decided to make this one go all the way to the edge, because the sand color clashed with the grey. The last one I did left a small border around it, and it still looked cute. Hooray for artistic license!

In hindsight, I wish I had gotten a thinner piece of scrapbook paper. This was one of those double-sided ones from Michael’s, so it was a little thicker than usual. And boy, was that paper persnickety! Those edges just did not want to stay down. I had to keep running the handle of the foam brushes along them because they kept popping up. Seriously, you would think I had learned my lesson about fancy scrapbook paper from the tree debacle.

Once that dries, then another layer of Mod Podge goes on top. This was mainly to provide something for the pictures to stick to. Remember to add any other layers while the bottom layer of Mod Podge is still wet. Make sure you seal the last layer with a final coat of Mod Podge, making sure to get along the edges and down the sides to seal it.

Wondering who that little girl is? Yep, that is my aunt. And she hasn’t changed a bit.

Once that’s all dry, apply two coats of the polyurethane sealant. And make sure you open a window, because that stuff smells really bad. Ugh, my whole living room smelled like…well…some really strong chemical! So glad I had already eaten dinner, or I would have lost my appetite! Which, of course, would have been tragic.

And now, once everything is all dry, flip those beautiful masterpieces over and add the protective dots on all four corners. These are a hard plastic kind, but the felt circles look cute too. I just didn’t use those because the only kind available was this hideous shade of green. Ugh! Remember, this step is really important, unless you want your gift to scratch your recipient’s tables. Then you can skip it.

Painting Project

Several months ago, I started writing my favorite lines from certain worship songs that have been stuck in my head for quite some time on my mirror. Eventually I added a few drawings and ended up with a creation that took up my entire mirror. Granted, it was a little one over the sink in my dorm room, but still.

I decided to paint my mirror creation onto a small canvas, so I could have color and stuff (and so the steam wouldn’t destroy it). I tried to make a mottled background with my favorite colors: pink, blue, purple, and green. But, I am a novice painter, and haven’t quite figured out how to blend colors together, so I ended up with this:

Definitely NOT what I saw in my head.

This sat in my painting box for many months, until I came across this blog entry. I thought it would be a perfect solution to my botched project!

So, I bought some white foam stickers and did this:

This is the name of one of my favorite songs by Sherri Youngward. It was the inspiration for my original mirror art, so it’s what I chose for this project.

I got my art supplies ready:

I like acrylic paint. It’s a lot easier to use than oil paint (and less messy!) and thicker than watercolor. Plus it dries fast, which keeps me from getting antsy. Perfect for a beginning painter!

I used long brushstrokes to paint a nice thick layer of the white paint over my canvas and foam stickers, making sure to get in all the little crevices and not let the paint build up along the sides of the stickers.

When I was finished with the first layer, it looked like this:

I then painted another layer and waited (somewhat impatiently, I’m afraid) for the canvas to dry. I even made candy corn cupcakes for my Halloween party this evening to keep myself from going crazy with anticipation.

These are so pretty, they might just get their own post!

I just couldn’t take it; I had to eat one! It was calling my name, begging me to bite into the deliciousness. How could I resist?

Anywho, my painting finally dried enough to where I could peel back the stickers, and this is what I got:

A tad bit messy, but I don’t think anyone will really notice. And it looks so much nicer than the original project! I’m so excited! I can’t wait to display this in my newly decorated apartment.