Sunset Hues

Sunset AA
Welcomed cloud cover has dropped the temps a few degrees, which is always a relief in our dry mountain summers. Of course, Murphy’s Law was in play– friends were scheduled to visit last weekend, but with the temperature targeted to easily pass triple digits plus for last Friday and Saturday, we all agreed another weekend would be better for puttering about shops and tasting wine. Work week and no guests scheduled, the clouds have exuberantly rolled in providing spectacular sunsets.
Sunset BB
Enjoy! The glow of sunset always feels as though the universe is trying to break through and say hello – I love it.
Sunset dd
Be sure to stop by Unknown Mami’s Sundays in My City to see what others are sharing from their neck of the woods.

If you sell or promote anything, you NEED this

If you sell or promote anything, you NEED this. Need what? A QR code.

We all know what a barcode is. It’s a graphic symbol that a scanner can read to connect to computerized information. The same concept is utilized by something called a QR code. Wikipedia explains “QR code (abbreviated from Quick Response Code) is the trademark for a type of matrix barcode (or two-dimensional barcode) .. QR codes have become common in consumer advertising. Typically, a smartphone is used as a QR code scanner, displaying the code and converting it to some useful form (such as a standard URL for a website, thereby obviating the need for a user to type it into a web browser).” Huh?

Example:

MG

For my Master Gardener’s sign, I went to the free site QR stuff, http://www.qrstuff.com and simply followed their instructions to key in the Facebook page URL for the Calaveras County Master Gardeners. On a Mac, you get a download of your QR code image as soon as you hit enter on the URL. I nabbed my iPhone, scanned the image on their site and lo and behold my Facebook page came up (really, there’s a little bit of a thrill when you check to see if it works and it does). Once I’d proven to myself it would land on the right site, I pasted the image to my sign, printed it, laminated and I’m set to go. Folks at our plant sales and garden talks can simply hold up their smartphone, like our page and be therefore keyed in to our coming events. Although I really want to play with creating the visual QR code, for the master gardeners sign I chose something more recognizable as a barcode as the technology has not yet been widely utilized in my area. When I update the sign, I’ll choose their link for Facebook that will give me a more visual Facebook image.

As I’m not one of the multitudes with a shopping app, for the iPhone I downloaded the free AT&T code scannerOptions for free android device QR readers are also available from Google, AT&T or more.

QR code Ceodraiocht

You only get three visual QRs for free (oops). Hadn’t realized that when I started playing with just slapping one together for this post. You can upload your own picture or image; choose one of theirs; size the QR code in relation to the image; choose dots, squares or stars for the QR code itself; and generally play and manipulate to your heart’s content. They’re also more than happy to sell you programs with more features including tracking and data for those of you with a need to know details.

The uses for the code are only limited by your creativity. Why make someone key in a long URL from a business card when they can quickly hold their phone or tablet over it and land on your blog, shop or website? You can see from the column on the left of QR Stuff that you can get code images for phone numbers, digital business cards, email addresses and so much more. This morning I was encouraging someone to make a sign with a link to her Kindle e-book. This way she could sell her self-published books as well as less her expensive e-books when out and about.

In the comments, folks have shared Scanova and Visualead QR code generators. Both offer free samples for generating visual codes.

So, off you go. Create something fun and be sure to link us to your creation in the comments below. UPDATE: Here’s something fun – personalized QR Code cufflinks for the Geek in your life - at Etsy.   I’d love to see what you concoct!

Christmas in July

Cross stitch Santa mug rug

Christmas in July, for those who craft, is time to start thinking about, designing, collecting materials for and creating those items we may want to gift in the coming season. This isn’t to say that I haven’t spent my fair share of Christmas eves madly sewing squares of an afghan together, determined to finish before morning – but, the college days of staying up all night to finish and sew a sleeve onto a sweater or bind those squares are just a glimmer in the rear view mirror. I still thrive a bit too much on the adrenaline of the last minute rush – but do try not to leave EVERYTHING until that last moment.

Cross stitch Santa close

So, July has me pondering where to put my energies this season. These are items I created last season but didn’t post.  The mug rugs were easily packed in envelopes that winged their way to Ireland and Japan to bring a bit more Christmas cheer than a simple card.

Noel mug rug

For embroiderers, the overall design for these 3 mug rugs is from Five Star Fonts. I add rick rack by holding it down and repeating the step that sews the left fabric piece on – fast and easy. The angel embroidery is from Sudberry House, the Santa is free from ABC Embroidery (http://www.abc-free-machine-embroidery-designs.com – sign in then access the free archive for LOTS of great designs). ABC is also Anna Bove (http://site.annaboveembroidery.com/freedesigns/ ) – you can also register with Anna as a few of the free designs are different than on ABC (although they are mostly the same). The Noel is from Tatjana who is the creator behind deStickbar – it was a free design she did and offered on the Mettler thread site (you MUST leave the site in German or the free designs disappear http://www.amann-mettler.com/de/10383/Stickprojekte.html ).

Cross stitch angel mug rug

I’ve warned you in the past, that although I’m not an all day every day proponent of cute – the holidays bring out the kid in me and that kid loves Santa and Snowmen and cute little Christmas designs. Adding more white/cream into the mix of the deep forest colors I live in will bring that extra bit of bright and light to my winter season, the new placemats for me are perfect.

JND REDWORK SANTA D

This set of four are from Julia’s Needle Designs (she has wonderful sales!) with the exception of the mitten quilting by Mother Hen’s Quilt Embroideries (the mittens are just one of a multitude of free designs in her Yahoo group). I’d split the quilting designs in software to place as borders. Also mitigated my tendency to get things just a bit off by using Five Star Fonts candle mats as a base, deleting the rounded corners and using her final round of stitching to lay down my borders perfectly square. This ‘borders at the edge of the hoop, then sew a bit’ style allows me do larger finished items than my machine is capable of producing solely within the hoop.

JND Redwork Santa c

I layer the batting in the hoop and just stitch the design right through all layers plus stabilizer (medium weight cutaway makes a nice mat). Best to use an embroidery needle. I usually sew with Sharps but with batting prefer to switch to an embroidery needle.

JND Santa redwork b

I was a bit remiss in capturing photos as the holiday closed in – they were bordered again in deep brown. When I get around to digging them out, I’ll have to shoot and post pics of the finished items.

JND Redwork Santa a

My favorite designers have been having Christmas in July sales and I’m stocked and ready – now to the who would like what in which colors and fabrics. List time!

Be sure to pop in to Sundays in My City to see what other folks around the globe do with their weekends, it’s a fun group.

Murphys 4th in the Park

Murphys July 4th

Murphys July 4th

Music in the Park on July 4th in Murphys was a hit with all ages. So many happy kids dancing with one another and their parents / grandparents.  Photo quality not up to snuff as was hanging out in back with friends, a glass of wine and my iPhone.

4th happy kids 1 4th Haappy 2 4th Happy 4 4th Happy 5 4th Happy 6 4th Happy 7

Remember dancing with Daddy?

4th Happy 8 4th happy kids 1

Merita Callaway – with the Face paint – is our County Supervisor and a regular at many town events. Very accessible lady.

4Th Happy

Staying in the stream on a hot day till your lips turn blue and you’re simply chattering – memories for me of days at the beach.

4th Stream 2 4TH Stream a 4TH Stream b

Yummy food for sale so that the line (standing folks) to the food hut goes off the side of the pic. Our food hut is just at the kayak raffle (thanks to Sierra Nevada Adventure Company’s yearly generous donation of a new kayak!). Oh, and you can’t live here and not own a camp chair :-)

4th sunny 4TH

Robust fireworks display followed on the 5th eve at Ironstone.

Changes, changes. Considering monetizing the blog just a wee tad – I still hate ads everywhere. But, I really do stand behind and recommend certain products here on Facebook, G+ and other areas. Crafter’s always want to know what brands and items and where to get them – and, I am already an avid supporter of the ones I use and have been linking them. Living rurally, also a big shopper on Amazon and eBay. So, I’m joining affiliate programs and will go back and link the products I buy and am truly comfortable  recommending. I’ll toss in the books I enjoy as well. Hadn’t been posting recently while I considered if I wanted to continue to put the time into a blog (I do like leaving the computer and going out!) and if I should change my “no ads” stance. I expect peanuts, perhaps a dinner or lunch out per year (how many folks will click on the link and add to cart – not wish list – then buy?). This is an experiment, but know that I am searching the products I use to find links. You’ll perhaps see a few product reviews for things I’ve been meaning to share with other writers and bloggers. Not every post will have links (promise!). Stay tuned.

And,don’t forget to stop by Sundays in My City to see what other folks around the globe have been up to.

Valentine Mug Rugs

I have been diligently stitching, gardening, baking, cooking, snapping photos of sunsets and voraciously reading over the past few months although you would not know it when stopping by the blog.

Let’s see if I can catch up a tad.

I’d gotten into the habit of decorating for various holidays when my nieces and nephews were younger and my neighbors with young kids would stop by.  Although I have substantially fewer neighbors,  a bit seasonal decorating makes me smile –  so I keep it up.

Here are in progress valentines day mug rugs a.k.a. snack mats a.k.a. cocktail coasters.

Mug Rug Machine Embroidered

A free heart embroidery from Kreations by Kara graces the first one. I LOVE this heart – it stitches so fast. and easily The little fabric squares on the right aren’t really “square” which threw things off a bit. I also pieced it outside of the hoop and stitched it in the evening after work – not my best time – everything is just a tad off spacing wise, but I’m ok with it. I did make a note to self to do all piecing in the hoop in future.
KBK mug rug

The mats match an existing apron (Makower UK piece of fabric I’d gotten ages ago) and table runner (thus the two reds and not square fabric squares).
Makower UK fabric apron

Some folks are fussy about backs of things – not me. I hooped muslin as the mat back, then cutaway stabilizer (to make the mats stiff, the corners and sides stay flat), batting (aka Warm N Natural – a thin batting) and my pieced cotton top without the binding strips. I add the binding as a stitch and flip at the end ITH (in the hoop). This binding will be stitched by hand to the back. The main thing is to use a 90 needle as with all those layers you’d have shredding thread if you don’t. My machine can handle all these layers – I understand some cannot. Here are the muslim backs so you can see what’s done ITH.
mat backs

San Francisco’s Stitch has a bon bon bash that’s a very active in their Yahoo group. Folks are downloading the candy designs and stitching them up in all different wonderful combinations of colors and fabrics. This mat has their designs.

SFStitch bon bon mat

Urban threads is one of my favorite machine embroidery design purveyors. . The next two mats feature their designs. The “heartwood” makes me smile. 

UT heartwood mat

The daydream love heart is lovely, but I was a tad careless on spacing here, so this will be the one I use with coffee.
UT Heart mat wip

Now let’s see if I can get off the laptop and get these things finished :-)

Sewing Machine Needle Storage – Quick Project

boxes 14 decoupage

When working any craft, I prefer things visible and in arm’s reach.  Those who don’t sew may not realize that there are specific sewing machine needles for a variety of tasks – embroidery, knits (ballpoint), denim, double needles, universal, sharps and more – each with their own choice of a few sizes. I like to keep mine in the case they come in for easy identification.

boxes 1 to decoupage

Did you know that most cracker boxes are the perfect size for storing your needle collection?

boxes 2

Peel open the ends and cut your box lengthwise. I just used scissors (not the fabric ones, I have a craft pair).

boxes 3 papers

Pick out some papers – you can find decorative paper at the craft stores by the sheet or in pads, buy it online, print it on your printer or paint / color your own. I used the 12 by 12 size, purchased at Michaels to make this one of my speediest projects ever.

boxes 4 mediums

Choose your medium – Turned out, I was able to use my really old Mod Podge Gloss Finish after running the lid under some hot water and loosening it’s edge with a knife so I could unscrew it.The stuff in the jar – although old, was fine. You could also use gesso or gel medium.

boxes 6 top done

Regular old newsprint protects the work surface. I have a bag of bottle lids handy in case I need to raise something up (If you’re afraid of gluing your item to the newsprint, also not needed this time around). Painted the Mod Podge on the box and smoothed my paper onto it. I have a brayer (small roller) but never had to use it for this project – my hands worked just fine.

boxes 5 top done

Flip your box over and glue down the edges. True confessions – I just wipe the Mod Podge onto the paper with my finger as I’m working close to a sink and can walk over and rinse it off easily.

boxes 7 weights

Weight the whole thing down (I put an open box – aka Priority mail as I always have a few handy – on top of my project then some pretty full detergent jugs on that). Let dry for a bit (doesn’t have to dry fully – just start setting, so 30 minutes to an hour).

boxes 8 tabs

Next we’re gluing down what was the top of the box – the part we cut – to the sides. Smear Mod Podge on it.

boxes 9 tabe

Turn it over, weight it down (you can see how it wants to raise up and needs weight along it’s length – thus the laundry detergent jug necessity. The small jars don’t cut it).

boxes 10 sides

Do both long sides.

boxes 11 part done

It’s ready for the lining paper. Grab your sponge brush, slabber on some Mod Podge to the inside of the box and smooth your lining on. It doesn’t cover the box ends all the way and that’s ok (I like a bit of cardboard to cardboard contact for gluing the ends directly).

boxes 12 ends

Then, make a few slits on the paper at the ends so you can fold your ends back up and glue them shut with Mod Podge. The laundry jugs keep the box nice and upright and strong clips keep the ends closed while drying.

boxes 13 end

Cut pieces to cover your box ends. If I were really fancy, I would have cut cardboard from another cracker box to the size of the end and covered it with all paper edges folded over to one side, then used that to glue to the end so there would be no paper edges. But, I decided this would be good enough for this project. Oh, and can you tell I’m a fan of Schmetz Gold Titanium Embroidery Needles?

boxes 14 end

Brush the box end inside and out with Mod Podge and press your paper on. I find it much easier to brush the box, if you brush the paper, it isn’t quite as easy to handle. Put the clips back on while it dries. Then, place needles in and you are set to go. I’ll probably paint Mod Podge over the box to give the paper a better chance of standing up to wear and tear. Since I’d forgotten how easy decoupage is, I can hit that when I tackle the few other quick fixes I’ve lined up to neaten my desk and sewing table.

boxes 16 decoupage

Spent needles go in an empty vitamin bottle I keep in the back of my box. For machine embroiderers, yes – you can see Coats and Clark thread in the box. I mostly embroider with Sulky rayon 40 but for thick thread designs,  use Coats and Clark 30 weight. I’m lucky (and so thrilled) that my machine isn’t as finicky about threads as do hear the horror stories from others about temperamental machines shredding thread. If I ever get a few gifts in the mail and delivered, I’ll post a project with this thread.

This post is participating in Unknown Mami’s Sundays in My City.