Monthly Archives: December 2013

Hand-Stamped Washer Pendants


Here is my other Christmas project for 2013: Washer Pendants with words stamped into them. I saw them on Pinterest and then searched and found variations online.

Stamp Set and Bench Block

You will need washers, a metal stamping set, (I got mine at Harbor Freight Tools – 1/8″ Steel Stamping Set for just $9.99), a hammer and a hard, flat surface on which to stamp.

I used a silver paint pen to write the letters on the side of each stamp, with the letter facing me when the stamp was correctly positioned for stamping.  I also wrote the letter on the top end of each stamp but banging on them with a hammer has blurred or even removed the ink from some of the stamps.

You will also need a chain or cord for each necklace you make (mine are  32 inches long), a black Sharpie to color the letters so they’re more visible and rubbing alcohol to clean off the excess ink.  If you want, you can dress it up a bit with a charm or other embellishment and some jump rings to attach the charm.  I bought some bead chain but decided I liked the simple, black cord better.

Necklaces on cord

All in all, even with purchasing the stamping set, it was a very inexpensive project for me.  I had the hammer, Sharpie and rubbing alcohol.  Rem provided a small, round bench block for stamping on, and I picked up some charms, jump rings and cord.

I saw several sites that suggested stamping in smooth concrete, such as your garage floor.  I don’t have a garage and don’t work well sitting on the ground.  They also caution against doing this on your kitchen or dining room table because you really don’t want to mess them up. I tried using a cement wall but found it awkward doing the project while standing.  Once I got fixed up with the small bench block, I used it on the table (with a towel underneath to protect the surface of the table) and it was smooth sailing.

By all means, use your garage floor if you have one and it has space for such projects. But if you don’t, you can order a small bench block online for less than $10.00.

Washer necklace embellishments

These aren’t hard to make but I found they took some practice.  Buy plenty of washers!  Washers are inexpensive and you’ll feel better if you have plenty on hand if you mess up a letter.  It is pretty certain that you’ll mess up a few, so plan on it.


The letter B and the letter E were both a bit tricky.  I stamped plenty of E’s that looked like F’s.  LOVF.  PEACF. Wrong.  That bottom bar of the E just didn’t always stamp.  And some of my B’s looked like P’s.

I was sometimes able to carefully realign the stamp on the washer after I’d moved the stamp and seen the letter wasn’t stamped fully.  But more often than not, I would move the stamp ever-so-slightly and stamp a ghost image that was not quite lined up.

Hold the hammer about halfway down the handle for a combination of good control but some weight in the swing.  I gave it three solid smacks, holding the stamp carefully in place.  With more practice, I had better success.

Once you have the word or phrase stamped into the metal washer, scribble into the letters with the black Sharpy.

Sharpie on Letters

Wipe off the extra ink with rubbing alcohol.

Rubbing Alcohol

Letters with and without Black Ink

This is how the letters look with and without ink.

If you are adding a charm, open a jump ring.

Jump Ring

The one on the right is best – holding onto each side with pliers, twist the two sides opposite directions to open.  The one on the left was pulled wider.  This makes it difficult to reshape the jump ring into it’s original shape.

I stacked two little beads on a bead pin as an embellishment for a necklace for myself.

Bead Embellishment

Cord, charm, jump ring, washers

Here are all the pieces for my necklace: cord, embellishment, jump ring and stamped washers.

Loop of cord into washers

Fold the cord in half, matching up the ends evenly, and put the loop through the washers from the back.

Pull ends through loop

Put the ends through the loop and pull it snug.

Add charm

Add your charm to cord on one side. You can slide the closed jump ring over the cord or close the jump ring over the cord with the pliers, twisting the opposite sides back together.

I like the simplicity of a sliding pair of knots for the ends of the necklace.  This works for a cord that will be long enough to go over your head while remaining knotted and isn’t meant to be untied every time.  You could also add a clasp to the ends of the cord.

Align Cord Ends

For a sliding knot, get your two cord ends close together, aiming opposite directions.

Hold in Left Hand

I’m right-handed, so I hold the cords together with my left hand.  With my right hand, I tie the left end over both pieces of cord, using a simple overhand knot.

Knot 2

Repeat on the cord to the right, again tying the knot over both pieces of cord.

Tighten knots

Tighten both knots.  Trim the ends of the cord if they’re longer than you want.


Slide the knots together.  After you put the necklace over your head, you can slide the knots apart and shorten the length of the necklace.

Bead Chain

Bead chain looks great too and the simplicity of a single word with no extra embellishment is appealing.

I enjoyed thinking of short phrases or word combinations for different people.

Washer Necklace Trio

More Necklaces

While writing this post I wanted a few more photos of the process so made a necklace for myself, something I didn’t take the time to do in the rush up to Christmas.

Make Stuff, Be Happy

It’s my new, favorite necklace.

Thank you for all the visits throughout the year, the great comments and the ongoing support.  I love writing and sharing my thoughts with you.


Filed under Crafts

Little Clothespin Doll Ornaments

Two Elves

Belated Christmas greetings to one and all!  I’ve been a busy elf, crafting these cute little clothespin doll ornaments and I didn’t want to share them before the holiday because they were all gifts.

To be honest, I’ve also been using up all my discretionary time on Christmas projects: these ornaments, a bit of cooking, a little shopping, another craft project (washer necklaces – I’ll show you those another day soon) and wrapping, mailing, and tagging of gifts.  I’m sorry that I really haven’t had time to catch up with you here.

Santa Lucia (dark hair)

The awesome  Once Around, a craft shop in Mill Valley, offers free, weekly, drop-in workshops.  Earlier in December, I had a delightful Tuesday evening at “Craft Gym” making Santa Lucia clothespin dolls.  I went online before the class and found lots of cute pictures on Pinterest, like this one and this one.

A wonderful bonus to the craft gathering was seeing a friend from grade school, Victoria Murphy, née Thomas, and her sister, Phoenicia.  So not only did I get a free class, some craft-shopping time and a fun evening, but I had a nice visit with old friends.

Mrs. Claus

The store is a well-stocked with beautiful arts and craft supplies, and it is always a pleasure to visit and browse.  Here are some pictures are from a previous visit.  As you can imagine, I’m like the proverbial kid in a candy store!

Ribbon PunchesRubber StampsOil Pastels

Yarn Card Stock & Envelopes

Once Around has a “Do-Dads” section with jars of little goodies like tiny shells, miniature candy canes, sequins, itty-bitty baskets,  little jingle-bells, buttons and bows which were perfect for this project.


Little Doodads

The clothespin dolls (also called peg dolls or clothespeg dolls) are fun to make.  I like how small they are and how each little detail can really add character and personality to the finished dolls.

Striped Socks

Striped socks and buckled Mary-Jane shoes and a little basket for Little Red Riding Hood.

Red Riding Hood

Music for the caroler

Tiny sheet music made from washi tape for the caroler.


Candle Wreath

Toothpick candles and embroidery floss braids for Santa Lucia.

Santa Lucia

Another aspect that amps up the adorable factor of these dolls is their big heads.  I’ve made clothespin ornaments before and found the small head of the clothespin to be a little unsatisfactory.  When I saw dolls with the wooden bead added for the head, I knew that was the way I wanted to do it.

Clothespin Doll Supplies

The dolls are pretty simply: old-fashioned wooden clothespins (I prefer the one that is flat at the end, but the pointed-end ones also work and look great for some of the designs), wooden head bead, pipe cleaners for the arms and paint for the facial features and hair.  I first grabbed some paint at the dollar store because I was short on both time and brains. Don’t waste your time on dollar store paint.  It looked almost the same as these paints, similar containers and all, but the paint was thick and gloppy and had very little pigment.  It was very frustrating and wasted my time and money (yes, only a dollar, but still).

By the way, I couldn’t find the heads in local shops and ordered them from Clickety Clack Collectibles on Etsy.  These are the dimensions: 1-1/4 inches in diameter with a 19/32 inch hole x 5/8 inch deep.  There are little wooden stands that I’m going to buy too but for these I used a small screw eye screwed into the top of the head so I could attach an ornament hook.

I work on the dolls in stages – use some folded tape on a clothespin to attach a head so you can paint the face and hair.

Tape on clothespin head

Head attached with tape for painting

A round toothpick dipped into paint is a perfect tool for dotting on the eyes.

Round toothpick into the paint

Dot on the paint for eyes

After painting the mouth and cheeks with a very small brush, I set the peg to dry on the edge of a glass.

Drying on the edge of a glass

Most of the time I painted the hair on.  I started with a darker color and then added detail with both lighter and darker colors.  For a few of the dolls I glued on a bun or ponytail from embroidery floss, pipe cleaner or felt.

Painted Hair plus ponytail

Mrs. Claus with Felt Bun

With Mrs. Claus I started with all-white hair and added a few details with grey.  Her bun is made from narrow strips of white felt, braided then glued into place with hot glue.

The acrylic paint dries pretty quickly but you don’t want to mess it up, so while the hair is drying, I start working on the body.  Sometimes I paint  the whole peg and sometimes I paint the feet and sometimes I don’t paint it at all. Don’t glue the head on to the body until the clothing is completely done because it will be in the way and make it difficult to get the clothes on the body.

After the body paint is dry, take a pipe-cleaner and, with the peg aligned so the space is centered between the legs in front, wrap the pipe-cleaner from the front, twist tightly in back and bring the two arms around to the front. I like the arms right up at the top of the cylindrical portion before it narrows to the neck. Use craft scissors (not your good fabric ones) to trim the ends to a good arm length, leaving enough extra to bend little hands. I use more than half a pipe-cleaner for one pair of doll arms.

If you aren’t paying attention, you might end up with the legs and body out of alignment.  Some of my little sweeties ended up that way, but I decided not to sweat it.


Felt is great for clothing because it doesn’t fray. But I also bought “fat quarters,” quarter yards of fabric sold for quilting and other projects, and used pinking shears to cut out circles for the skirts and triangles for headscarves and shawls.  A scrap of eyelet lace trim makes an apron.

Babushka with a pot

Babushka with basket

Using colored pipe-cleaners to match the felt tops made sleeves for my little cardigans and jackets.  The little dog walker has felt mittens and pipe-cleaner ear muffs (not to mention a pipe-cleaner dachshund).

Dog Walker

Miriam Elf

I also made little sleeves of felt or lace for some of them.  The sleeves were cones or tubes that I glued on individually after putting on the bodice.


Skier with mirror sunglasses

Pink & Green Girl with bird

Rosie the Riveter

For Rosie the Riveter, the sleeves had rolled cuffs and I pushed the tube sleeve back and glued it in place.

For skirts, trace a circle on your fabric using a lid of a Tupperware container or something similar.  You’ll have to experiment to learn what size circle for what length skirt.  Cut into the circle from the edge to the center and cut out a small inner circle for the waist.  A larger inside circle made for more gathers in the skirt.

If you know me, you know that I really don’t sew.  I grew up with my mom and two sisters all very talented in that department, and I never had the knack (nor patience) for sewing. But for this project I got out my little Ziploc bag sewing kit, threaded a needle and ran small stitches around the waist of each little skirt.  Lay the doll down on the skirt and tie the thread tightly around her waist. I dabbed some glue (sometimes hot glue, sometimes Ailene’s Tacky Glue) where the skirt overlapped in back.

The rest of the clothing was made from snipping, folding and gluing with hot glue. When working on collars and necklines I would try on the head to check scale and once the clothing was finished, I used hot glue to attached the head.

In one instance, the clothing was more minimal.


A little felt for the tail fins, a tiny scrap of fabric for the top and lots of sequins created a beautiful mermaid.

After making about 18 of these little ornament, I’m still enjoying it and coming up with more ideas.  Once I get stands, I’ll make some that can stand on their own.  It’s been a real pleasure thinking up the right doll for each person and crafting each one with that person in mind.

Box of Clothespin Doll Ornaments

Looking at this box of dolls I’m reminded of “It’s a Small World,” and as the song says, it’s a world of laughter, a world of tears.  I experienced both this Christmas.

Thank you for your visit. Wishing you all the very best for a happy, healthy New Year!


Filed under Crafts

Tag Tree Christmas Cards

Christmas Tree Card

I made a little batch of Christmas cards this morning, and I like how they turned out.

First I sketched a simple Christmas tree shape on a shipping tag and cut it out.

Shipping Tag and Tree Tag

I saved the tree shape to use as a template.  I covered other tags in a collage of bits of paper, postage stamps, paint swatches and washi tape, using a penciled rough outline of the tree shape as a guide.

Collaged Tags before trimming

Next I used the original tree-shaped tag and traced it on the back of each of these tags and cut them out.

Trace tree shape

Trimming Tree Shape

I made some tiny tags to add to my Christmas trees.  I have a rubber stamp with a tag shape  but you could also draw it.

These are stamped onto a dictionary page that I’d glued to a scrap of card stock for sturdiness.

Making Mini Tags

After stamping the tag shape, I stamped a heart on each one, then cut out all the little tags and punched a little hole in each one.

Tiny Tags

Using foam dots, I adhered the tiny tags to the larger, tree-shaped tags and added a bit of baker’s twine.  I mounted the trees onto folded red cards with more foam dots.

Here’s a few of the finished card fronts.

6 Tag Trees

5 cent tag

I still need to stamp a greeting inside each card, but I’m pleased with my progress.

I worked on a few other creative endeavors this weekend but both of those project are gifts, so I’m not ready to share them here. Yet.

Thanks for visiting.


Filed under Crafts

Slow Cooker Curried Chicken

Curried Chicken over Rice

Christmas is coming and I’m not at all ready for it.  One thing I am doing is buying the ingredients to put together some fairly easy, delicious slow cooker meals.  Last week it was short ribs with red wine served over polenta.  That will have to wait for another time so I can take a few pictures before I post the recipe.

Today I was grateful that Rem took on the task of getting this dinner going in the slow cooker while I was at work, though I only have a few pictures.

The recipe makes plenty so we’ll have leftovers for a few nights.  Less time cooking means more time crafting…or shopping, or decorating the tree, wrapping presents, writing cards or however you’re spending your time this busy season.

Slow-Cooker Curried Chicken

Adapted from Weight Watchers


13.5 oz can of coconut milk

2 Tbsp. red curry paste, divided

1 tsp. salt

2 large or 3 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks

4 carrots, peeled and cut in 1/2 inch thick slices

1 15 oz. can garbanzo beans drained and rinsed

2 to 2.5 lbs boneless, skinless chicken thighs, chicken breasts or a combination (I used 1 package of each and had about 2.5 lbs.)

1/4 cup peanut butter

1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro

3 green onions, sliced

Cooked rice and lime wedges for serving


In slow cooker, combine the coconut milk, 1 Tbsp. of curry paste and the salt.  Add sweet potatoes, carrots and garbanzo beans, stir to coat.

Rub remaining tablespoon of curry paste on chicken pieces.  Put the chicken pieces on top of the vegetables.  Cover and cook on LOW setting for 5 to 6 hours, and chicken and vegetables are cooked through and tender.

Move chicken to plate or cutting board and pull apart with two forks.

Stir peanut butter into curry in slow cooker. Return shredded chicken to slow cooker and stir into sauce.

Serve curry over cooked rice and garnish with chopped cilantro, sliced green onions and lime wedges.

I used up the cilantro in another recipe, so we didn’t have it tonight.

When I got home from work, the apartment smelled wonderful.  All I needed to do was pull the chicken apart with forks, stir in the peanut butter and cut up the garnish.  This is what it looked like before I shredded the chicken.

Curried Chicken in the Pot

I dished up a serving over Trader Joe’s frozen, microwavable jasmine rice, and took a picture of the bowl on the dining table.

Curried Chicken over Rice

But we actually ate on the bed because this is what the table and desk really look like:

Curry and craft projects

I’m working on two different Christmas gift craft projects and I’ve made quite a mess.

I’d better get back to my crafting.  Thanks for stopping by.


Filed under Cooking

Getting Our Tree

Christmas Socks

It’s a cold day so I’m wearing two pairs of Christmas socks.

We went out to breakfast and did a little shopping before going to the tree farm in Petaluma for our Christmas tree.  While I was in a store, Rem took some great selfies.

“He knows if you’ve been bad…”


“Or good, so be good for goodness sake!”

or good!

Onward to Larsen’s.


Mr. Larsen himself showed us some pretty Scotch Pines in an overlooked corner and that was it! Quickest time ever to find our tree. Good thing too since it was probably our coldest visit yet.  We’ve cut a tree down before in 70 degree weather but this was a chilly 36.

Our Tree

LL Pup supervised the sawing.

Puppy on a glove Puppy Watching


Take the tree

Candy Canes

Santa sign

Dianne at Larsen's

Getting the tree onto the car – we pay to have it netted so we don’t wreck the screen door getting into the house. Yes, we’ve done that. Twice.

On the Car


When I see Christmas merchandise in stores before Halloween it makes me cringe.  But the Thanksgiving leftovers are gone (or frozen) and Christmas will be here before I know it, ready or not.

It’s been uphill, but cutting down the tree and singing along to Burl Ives Holly, Jolly Christmas really helped me feel the Christmas spirit.

Thank you, Merry Christmas!

Thank you for stopping by.

1 Comment

Filed under Crafts

White Out



Here is one of my “White Out” collages – one of the Project Prompts in The Collage Workbook.  Using different shades of white paper (old book pages, tissue paper, heavy watercolor paper, junk mail, vellum, paper towel, old sheet music, etc.) I created 4 collages.

First I gathered my paper.

Paper for White Out collages

Then I started tearing, gluing, arranging and rearranging my layers until I was pleased with the results.

4 White Out collages



Section 6.9

Section 6.9



I really enjoyed doing these, more than I expected to because I’m so drawn to color.  But I liked working with the different textures and more subtle gradations of cream, off-white, aged yellowed-white and white.  The creases, perforations and printing or stamping on the reverse that can be seen through the paper made it interesting.

Thank you for coming to see what I’m working on.


Filed under Crafts

Leek Fritters

Leek Fritters with Menorah

After a big Thanksgiving dinner on Thursday with family where I only provided cranberry sauce and Brussels sprouts, I stuffed and roasted a turkey on Friday so Rem and I could enjoy “leftovers”.  It’s been a quiet, relaxing weekend with plenty of time for crafting, a walk with my sister, lunch with my mom, reading and yes, lots of good eating!

Today I fixed a big bowl of Emerald City Salad which I will enjoy throughout the week for lunch and tonight, for the fifth night of Hanukkah, I made Leek Fritters from the Smitten Kitchen Cookbook, by Deb Perelman.  I confess that on the first night of Hanukkah we had frozen latkes from Trader Joe’s and I wanted to do something homemade.

These came together fairly easily, were beautiful and delicious and went well with the toasted turkey and Swiss cheese sandwiches with cranberry sauce that we also enjoyed for dinner.

Slicing Leeks

I was going to make them a week or two ago but when I read the recipe more closely, I decided I needed a little more time and planning.  It’s not that they’re really difficult, but there was one step I hadn’t anticipated.  After cutting the leeks, you drop them in to boiling water to soften, then drain, wring out in a towel and proceed.

Boiling Leeks

Here’s the recipe:

Leek Fritters with Lemon Sour Cream

Adapted from the Smitten Kitchen Cookbook


For Fritters:

2 lbs. leeks (about 3 very large ones)

2 green onions

1/4 cup all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

black pepper

1 large egg

olive or vegetable oil, or nonstick spray for frying* see note, below

For Lemon Sour Cream:

1/2 cup sour cream

Few gratings of fresh lemon zest

1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice

1/2 teaspoon of garlic salt

* Note about frying: I find frying trickier on our electric stove than on a gas burner.  Next time I make them, I’ll probably use nonstick spray with a nonstick pan.
Cooking Leek Fritters

Put a pot of salted water on to boil.  Trim the leeks, leaving only the white and pale green parts.  Cut then on half lengthwise and rinse with cold water to remove any dirt and grit.  Slice the leeks crosswise into 1/4 inch pieces.  Drop the cut up leeks into the boiling water, and cook for 3 or 4 minutes, then drain, rinse with cool water for a few moments and wring out in a dish towel or piece of cheesecloth.

Put the leeks into a large bowl.  Cut the green onions in half lengthwise and slice thinly.  Add the green onions to bowl with leeks.

In a small bowl, stir together flour, baking powder, salt and pepper and then stir into large bowl with leeks.  Add egg and combine, stirring until the mixture is evenly coated.

Preheat oven to 250 and place a baking sheet covered in foil inside.  Put a few layers of paper towel on a plate.  In a large, heavy pan, heat 2 tablespoons oil on medium to medium high heat until it shimmers.  Drop leek mixture into pan, about 1/4 cup per fritter, and flatten slightly with a spatula.  Don’t crowd the pan.  Cook until golden brown, about 3 minutes, and flip, cooking the other side until golden brown.

Remove to paper towel covered plate to drain and the transfer to warm oven while you cook the remaining leek mixture.

Stir lemon zest, lemon juice and garlic salt into sour cream.

Serve fritters with a dollop of sour cream.

Fritters with Lemon Sour Cream

Thanks for the visit.

You can refrigerate or freeze leftovers and heat them in a 325 degree oven until hot and crisp.


Filed under Cooking

Batkid Saves San Francisco

Batkid Adjusts His Mask

A few weeks ago, while I was pushing papers around at work, Rem went into the city to witness Batkid save San Francisco.

In case you were hibernating or busy studying for your orals, you might have missed this exciting event.  5-year-old Miles is a cancer survivor and Batman fan.  Thousands of people turned out to participate and watch as the day unfolded, a surprise for Miles from the Make-A-Wish Foundation.


Click on these links to see more pictures and read the posts Rem wrote about that day.

The Penguin

Miles was diagnosed with leukemia at 18  months old, so chemo was a big part of his life.  He is now in remission and making memories fighting crime, a welcome change from battling cancer for so long.

batkid running

Thanks for stopping by.


Filed under Life