Friday, January 23, 2015

Teen-Ster Baskets: Easter Basket Idea for Teenagers

Easter is awesome. And while I don't want to lose sight of celebrating our Lord Jesus rising from the grave, I do have to admit I have an obsession with the more commercial Easter traditions. When my girls were little, we would dye eggs, gobble chocolate bunnies, and I would dress them in brand new, fluffy pink and purple gowns, parading them for all the world to see. Eventually those poufy dresses gave way to more modest skirts, then slacks and even blue jeans as my little girls became teenagers.

While the dresses have gone away, one thing does not change, and that is the need for the Easter basket. In times past, the Easter basket was a thing of magic and wonder, filled to the brim with delicious candies, chocolate bunnies, and toys that signaled the end of a cold and snowy Iowa winter and the ushering in of warmer days... toys like jump ropes, bubbles, and sidewalk chalk.
Eventually, though, my girls outgrew such toys and suddenly the conundrum of the Easter basket was upon me. What to do? We couldn't afford to fill a basket with movie tickets and i-phones. Even make-up can be expensive when you multiply it times two. A little online research produced some fun ideas.

I bought two packs of soda, orange and grape Crush, and removed three bottles from each. Yes, I gave them to the Easter Bunny. No reason the Bunny shouldn't have a little fun, too. Then I filled the empty slots with Easter grass and goodies. These included things like new funky socks, inexpensive jewelry, nail polish, gum, candy, fruit leather and of course, a chocolate bunny. I wrapped it all up with a bow on top.

Of course, the "baskets" were a big hit when they were discovered outside the girls' doors bright and early on Easter morning. And while I couldn't convince my teens to wear poufy pink and purple dresses, I didn't have much trouble persuading them to gobble up those chocolate bunnies. Some things never change.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Makin' Sweaters into Pillows

Maybe you've seen them. Those awesome Pinterest pins of cozy winter rooms. A fireplace glowing and crackling. The mantle perfectly arranged with knick knacks. There is a plush white sofa and a chippy coffee table with a tray of steaming cocoa cups loaded with whip cream and sprinkles. A faux fur throw is draped artfully over one arm of the sofa and nestled in each corner is an awesome pillow that looks like your favorite sweater.

I admit it. Pinterest is a source of jealousy for me. I don't like to covet, but I just HAD to have those sweater pillows.

I don't know what they cost at the store. They're probably not all that much. But being a DIY-er means blood, sweat and tears, baby! We don't buy pillows at Pottery Barn. We MAKE them!

Or we die trying!

So, I was at a local thrift store, browsing the sweater section and WOW. They had LOTS of sweaters that fit the bill for a nice, cozy, wintery pillow. I grabbed two that I liked (size XL... I recommend larger if you want anything even remotely cuddle-sized). They were a nice, warm vanilla color that is pretty much my favorite color for ANYTHING in decorating.

I also purchased two ugly, ruffly 80s pillows for less than three bucks. I needed a filler pillow, and these frilly guys were NEVER going to find a home unless I took them.

I brought my sweaters home and proceeded to chop them up with the enormous fabric scissors my hubby unearthed for me in the basement... or the "underhouse" as I like to call it. These primitive metal blades are like fine weaponry for a seamstress. They hacked through those thick, knitted sweaters like a hot knife through butter. You will want good scissors for this because bad ones will leave you with a pile of loose threads.

Once I got a roughly square-shaped couple of pieces, I took them to my sewing machine and made quick work of 3.25 sides. I left a gap on that fourth side big enough to stuff my dismantled pillow into. Then, many, many days later (because I'm a procrastinator), I hand-sewed that fourth side shut.

The results weren't quite as majestic as I had hoped. The pillows are a bit wonky, but they are certainly cuddly... and cute enough to pull out at Christmas-time and through the bleak January-February months. They will likely go away in the springtime and come back before the turkey is cold on Thanksgiving.

The biggest lesson I took away from this is that an XL sweater does not make a very large pillow. I think next time I'll look for a bigger filler pillow and maybe try to use the WHOLE sweater, sans arms.

But otherwise, I kinda love these cozy little guys. How 'bout you?