Best of Happy Handmade 2014 Part 6 – Inanimate objects

I have been posting pictures of my favorite custom orders and creations completed last year and here’s the final post – part six! If you missed my last five, be sure to go see the first (barn bag)second (dogs), third (Double Fine creations), fourth (animals), and fifth (characters) posts in the series.

Last year I made some fun and memorable inanimate objects. I forgot to take a picture of the s’more I made for the craft show, but I did capture this adorable toaster along with his happy toast buddy!15631936833_5745234b77_k

They also can morph into Christmas ornaments!toaster and toast

 

 

You can’t have toast in the morning without a cup of coffee. I made this mug for an amazing client who gave it as a gift to the owners of Hoboken Coffee. She even sent me a bag of Hoboken Coffee beans! <3

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From coffee mugs to electric guitars…I’ve always got a new crocheting adventure! DSC_0065 DSC_0057-001DSC_0063

The year 2014 was a great one for custom orders. Thank you to all my customers for the fun challenges. It’s often the things I have the hardest time making that I appreciate the most. Thanks to photography, I can continue to treasure these creations, too!

 

 

Best of 2014 Part 3 – Double Fine friends!

I have been posting pictures of my favorite custom orders completed last year and here’s part 3! If you missed my last two, be sure to go see the first (barn bag) and second (dogs) posts in the series.

My husband works for Double Fine Productions and, last year, I got to make this giant Two-Headed Baby (the company’s mascot!) Two-Headed Baby is definitely the largest and one of the most complicated amigurumi I’ve ever made. It was a fun challenge.Double FineTwo-Headed Baby

Last year, my husband got to work on a game prototype called Little Pink Best Buds (for Pendleton Ward’s Amnesia Fortnight game pitch) and I ended up making several of these Buds:DSC_0155DSC_0188-001Little Pink Best Buds

I also got to make this pair of zombies based on the two main characters from Dirt Nap, a web comic by Double Fine designer Gabe Cinquepalmi. The exposed chunk of brain is my favorite little detail… DSC_0056 DSC_0064

 

 

Best of 2014 – Part 2

Last week I posted the first in a series of posts sharing some of my favorite custom Happy Handmade orders completed in 2014.

It may have, technically, been the year of the horse last year, but it felt like the year of the dog to me. I made a bunch of custom dog portraits that included six different breeds…and a couple howling wolves.

DSC_0004DSC_0058DSC_0083DSC_0098amigurumi dogDSC_0104DSC_0109DSC_0129DSC_0033DSC_0068-002Howling Wolf

Is there a special dog in your life you’d like recreated in a squishy crochet version? Let me know! I’ll turn a picture of your dog into a custom crochet dog portrait!

 

Clean slate: a house transformed, 2014 can officially begin

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That pretty much summed up my December. I started January still reeling from the December mess that had still suffered from my November neglect and then added a house guest. For months, I was under the impression that we’d have to move out of our house in February, so I never fully fixed some of the organization problems in my house, thinking I’d just have to pack it all up anyway. Why bother actually moving in properly when we were just going to have to move out again?

Then I found out we wouldn’t have to move after all! Suddenly, I couldn’t bear another day in the house the way it was. I couldn’t crochet or write or play or even eat or sleep. All I could do was clean and organize and move furniture until this place was perfect. I needed the house to feel like a clean slate. I could barely have a conversation, I was so focused on the task of making this home a comfortable and productive place to be.

I started by flip-flopping the location of my piano – a very sadly neglected household dust-collecter that had become more a piece of furniture than an instrument, mostly because we feel it is too loud to play in our townhouse. I figured if we moved it into a small room with a door we can close and get it off our neighbor’s wall, we might actually play it.  It has worked! I moved the big shelf cubes into the piano’s old place and now our living room feels like a living room. The toys live there instead of the tiny understairs closet I couldn’t go into without hitting my head. My most-used craft items live there, too, so I make sure to put the things I use away, instead of let them sit on our dining room table.

Clean House

The office had a big, underutilized closet with annoying, large sliding  doors that squealed loudly when opened, so we just never opened them. I removed the closet doors and put them behind the piano to help as added sound-muffling material. Now I have a big open craft closet that stores my newly color-coded yarn drawers and streamlined shipping/packaging shelves.

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I learned that teal must really be my favorite color as I had somehow aquired enough teal yarn to justify its very own drawer.

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I have never lived so happily in a space as I have this past week, since the house was transformed. I can enjoy the treasures I have – things that weren’t displayed since I had had no room to display them before -things like my handbound books and Ben’s colorful collection of Moleskine notebooks.

Handbound books

Things like my West Wing box set, the colorful giraffe my Mom bought me, and my favorite books (also color-coded of COURSE).

Display shelves

I can play with my kids and feel like the house might not be totally destroyed because their toys actually have a place to live. I have been continuously channelling my Gramma-who-isn’t-actually-my-grandma who once told me “the key to keeping the house picked up is for everything you own to have a place. If you give everything a place, it will always have a place to go.”

For example, I had no real place to crochet! I’d tried everything to solve the problem. Yarn baskets next to the couch always got overfilled and messy and hard to find things in…plus, on the couch, I had no surface on which to work. I tried a little lap desk that held my work well, but, when I wasn’t working, there was nowhere for the lap desk to go! I tried keeping a basket near the dining room table where I always found myself working because it was the most convenient and centrally-located spot in the house with a flat surface, but then I’d cover the dining room table in crocheting projects and we had nowhere to eat.

When I rearranged the house I realized there was a perfect spot for a long narrow desk to go behind the couch. Then I could sit at a flat surface and watch TV at night while I work while also being close to where the kids play with their toys and eat their snacks. While walking through IKEA the other day I saw THE desk, bought it without measuring and hoped for the best. It’s perfect.

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So now, when you order a crocheted buddy from me, it will probably have been made while sitting at that desk.

Besides keeping the house clean and organized, I also feel like I really need to squeeze in some time for some of the things I haven’t done in a long time, but have always loved doing…things like reading and making music. I am pleased to report I have actually gotten to page 44 (!) of the Walt Disney biography I’ve been wanting to read for years. You can see it sitting on my now clean nightstand along with some of my favorite things (gerber daisies, Kurt Halsey prints, and Burt’s Bees lotion) and my new  (teal, of course) comforter.

Some of my favorite things

My husband also bought the family a ukelele for Christmas and we all love it! I can’t seem to spend more than 30 seconds with the red little beauty, though, before a family member comes and steals it from me.

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I even found the perfect spot for kite girl to fly. I really think, if the house were on fire, kite girl would be among the top five things I’d save.

Kite Girl

Now that she’s hung in her new and improved spot, 20 months since we moved to California, I think I’m feeling officially moved in, fired up for 2014, and ready to make you crocheted cuties like this black bear (Or you can make it yourself! I just posted the pattern on my Etsy site for purchase!)

Black bear amigurumi

Any other patterns you wish were available? Please let me know! I am going to try and create more this year and it’s hard to decide which ones to make first.

OK! Off to crochet a frog at my new, pretty desk. Creativity IS messy, but that doesn’t mean my whole house has to be.

 

One more week!

I have one week until my California craft show debut at Patchwork Show Oakland in Jack London Square from 11am-5pm! All weekend I’ve been playing around with my table set-up and crafting some cute signage and tags to make my little booth stand out among the other 139 booths that will be there that day.

I haven’t posted in what has felt like forever. I’ve been steadily working my way through my long “to-crochet list,” a list that only seems to grow instead of shrink, a list that is difficult to prioritize as everyone likes something and I could crochet and put a Happy Handmade smile on just about anything! I’ve made a lot of new things and made some old favorites in different colors. We took a trip to a park today to photograph them before I (hopefully) sell them!

Here’s a small sampling of what you could see next Sunday afternoon:DSC_0210 DSC_0193  DSC_0178 DSC_0159 DSC_0149 DSC_0135 DSC_0100 DSC_0097

I’ll try to post another batch midway through the week! There are so many more!

Margot’s Woodland-Themed 2nd Birthday Party

Birthday season has hit! For the next three-four months, I will be in a constant state of distraction. Once I have a birthday theme in my head, I have a really hard time thinking about anything else. I find myself wanting to crochet some woodland creatures this week, so I thought I’d write up a little recap of Margot’s recent woodland-themed 2nd birthday party.

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Like most toddlers, my daughter loves animals. She also loves big slides…the bigger and steeper the better. She is a very brave little two-year-old. That’s why I chose to have her party at Coyote Point Park in San Mateo, the home of a really cute mini-zoo that houses mostly native woodland animals as well as a cool hands-on science center, extensive picnic spots, and a truly awesome playground that features a two (maybe three?) story metal tube slide. Perfect.

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I decided to have a morning party, mostly to honor toddler nap times. I was nervous about a morning party, due to my typical pre-party hysteria, but I did a little extra organizing  to prepare for a possible morning Mommy meltdown, and all went well. Instead, I had the meltdown late the night before when my handmade frittatas came out of the oven looking like ugly, rubbery, flying saucers. I ditched them and my husband ordered Panera catering which we picked up on the way to the park the next morning.

He loves me….and has come to expect this sort of foodtastrophe. There’s one for every party. I always have high hopes for my baking/cooking skills, but realize a little more every year that I should just stick to the birthday crafting and delegate food prep to others who may be a bit more capable…and focused.

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Luckily, the “cake,” which is usually the source of my agony, turned out really well! A few months back, Margot got her first taste of sticky buns at a Walt Disney World character breakfast and, I swear, I’ve never seen her more full of glee than while eating those things. She thought Tigger was terrible, but those sticky buns were amaaaazing. When I decided on having a picnic brunch at the park, I knew I had to make her sticky buns. That’s when I found recipes for these sticky bun cakes (otherwise known as monkey bread/rolls) all over Pinterest that use frozen yeast rolls, butterscotch pudding mix, butter and pecans that you let rise, bake for awhile and then flip upside down for the magical, gooey, gorgeous reveal. Margot’s sticky bun birthday “cake” turned out great, and looked cute, too, thanks to these free Woodland-themed printables I found and adapted for my purposes.

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I also used the free woodland animal themed ears that I attached pretty colored ribbon to for the kids (and grown-ups!) to wear at the party.

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I set out picnic blankets, a basket of books with woodland themes, and a couple stuffed woodland animals and it looked super cute.

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My husband and I had debated for a while about whether or not the sticky bun cake counted as a cake. He felt that a traditional cake or, at the least, cupcakes had to be present in order for a birthday party to feel like a birthday party. I felt like no one wanted toddlers to have cupcakes for breakfast and anything can feel like a cake if it has candles. We compromised. I made zucchini-carrot muffins with cream cheese frosting. Then I found this adorable idea for owl cupcakes here that I copied on the big muffins.

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I turned the mini-muffins into little flowers with loopy petals and candied sunflower seed centers. A box of bagels, a few quartered egg soufflees, and a big box of coffee from the on-the-fly Panera trip, and the brunch turned out to be really yummy and not super stressful.

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The kids played on the giant playground while the adults supervised and snacked.

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Then we sang to Margot (which, surprisingly, made her really uncomfortable), I blew out her candles for her, and we packed up for the trip to Curiodyssey so we could all see an actual owl, fox, coyote, badger, and other assorted animals.

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We even got to pet an opossum!

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She looked so much like my own Olivia!

Opossum

We looked for otters, but they were sleeping, so Margot took their place.

Margot's 2nd Birthday Party

We had a ton of fun playing in the science center, too!

Curiodyssey

I was nervous about a party away from the house, but I was really pleased with it and think everyone had a great time. As usual, I didn’t take nearly as many pictures of some of the cute party decor as I wanted to. Jhonen helped me string the Happy Birthday letters on the banner and assemble a 3D paper owl kit we got on clearance at Michaels. I printed out personalized woodland-themed bookmarks and tied them with ribbon to brown paper bags filled with woodland animal bath squirters, teddy grahams, and animal stickers. Each bookmark was a different animal and, all lined up together, they looked really cute, but I didn’t think to get a picture. Here’s Margot’s little bag, though.

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I was so happy with this party. It felt laid-back, comfortable, and fun. Most importantly of all, Margot seemed to love every minute and it made me so happy to see her enjoy her special day.

Margot at two years old

One of these years I WILL crochet thematically appropriate birthday favors. I will! One of these days I will also crochet both my kids an amigurumi to go with each themed birthday we’ve done. In that case, I need to make a couple bumblebees, an owl, a car, a volcano, and a fish.

All that thinking about woodland animals has me wanting to make a hedgehog, a fox (my favorite!), and a variety of owls. I’m hoping to work on at least one of those this week and, if I do, I’ll be sure to introduce it to you. I won’t make any promises, though, as I now have less than a month to plan Jhonen’s Volcano-themed 5th birthday party!

I really love planning birthday parties. Makes me think I should be doing more of it…

 

Catch up!

Two weeks have passed since my last post and I have so much to write in order to catch up that it’s hard to even decide what to write about first! Today’s blog post is going to be a complete mish-mash of thoughts and sights and news because that best illustrates how scattered my brain is right now! Brace yourself for an onslaught of random thoughts, new crochet critters, a couple exciting announcements, and some pretty pictures that will get you all caught up on the last two weeks at Happy Handmade.

Since my last post, I completed an order for two mini dogs to match their larger counterparts, Hank and Sunny.DSC_0043  DSC_0029  Custom Dogscustom_dogThen I moved on to an Aloe Pony…a spa pony from the My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic series. I really love how she turned out, but I’m a sucker for anything pink and aqua. DSC_0010 DSC_0015I got the BIG news that the awesome couple who just opened a really special new gallery space, The Grease Diner in Oakland, wanted to sell my little buddies and cards! I set to work on some items to start them with and even made a little potted succulent plant that I somehow completely forgot to photograph before I sent it off. I’ll have to make another one! I now want to make an entire succulent garden because it is really fun. They are also  excited to sell hanging things so I sent them off with a hot air balloon and a hanging bumble bee. But NOW, after seeing these sights at the Berkeley Kite Festival, all I want to make is colorful, flying crocheted mobiles!

DSC_0045 DSC_0029-001 DSC_0083DSC_0052 We, of course, couldn’t resist joining in the kite festivities, so this is the newest member of our family, Willie the Worm Kite.DSC_0058-001A parasailing zoo animals mobile, a mobile of crazy crocheted colorful shapes, a mobile of raindrops and umbrellas…I have so many ideas for mobiles!

In the middle of all that crocheting, Ben and I both had our best friends from Florida visiting the Bay area for the first time. We definitely wanted to see them as much as possible and show them around. Plus, it was a fun excuse to play tourist ourselves. DSC_0094 DSC_0108We took an abridged version of the Scenic 49-Mile drive through San Francisco and saw so many of the beautiful, colorful, iconic sights that make this part of the world so special.DSC_0109DSC_0149DSC_0082DSC_0136 DSC_0119I enjoyed a fabulous girl’s day on my first trip to Napa. I will DEFINITELY be back. It was amazing.DSC_0110 DSC_0097 DSC_0118Then there was a crazy period of adjustment for the whole family when our visitors left and we went back to the regularly scheduled program and I returned to the constant entertainment and interaction with my kids and dog all day, every day. DSC_0042 DSC_0152  DSC_0058This little happy girl is about to turn TWO! I’m desperately trying to get a party together.DSC_0050Many hours of Pinning woodland themed recipes and party decor ideas on Pinterest later and I’m about to just go to Panera and have the whole darn Woodland-themed picnic brunch catered.

My son just started his first week of day camp which is helping me prepare for the all-too-soon start of his first ever five-day-a-week school year (gulp). I just learned he’ll have to have school uniforms  that I have to find and purchase and I’m already nervous about getting used to school schedules and open houses and new teachers.

We found out we’ll probably only be able to renew the lease on this house for another 6 months, so that information is slowly sinking in. Then a neighbor was kind enough to take me down to one of my favorite stores in Oakland where I happened to buy all of my Christmas presents last year to talk to the owner about selling my crocheted items there, too! She said yes! Sooo….as soon as I finish up a frog prince for a 5-year-old with a princess bedroom and a happy aqua narwhal, I’ll have to decide what to make for Marion and Rose’s Workshop! I’m SO excited!

Add in a crazy family camping experience, an even crazier night of tequila school on a much-needed and LOOOONG-overdue date night with Ben, and little things like groceries, laundry, and dishes and…WHEW! I am a little dazed and confused right now. But in a good way! The past two weeks have been really fun and exciting.

Now I’m looking forward to the new relationships I’m about to  forge with Oakland small businesses, the friendships and new experiences my son will soon gain in Kindergarten, the quality, one-on-one time with my soon-to-be two-year-old, and the new creations coming out of Happy Handmade Headquarters in the next few weeks.

In the meantime, I hope you enjoy the rest of your summer!

 

 

 

 

 

 

It’s Adventure Time!

How appropriate that, while on our first big adventure back to Florida since we moved away, I’d be asked to crochet Finn, Jake, and Lumpy Space Princess from one of our favorite TV shows, Adventure Time. If you’ve never watched it, you should give it a try. The show is incredibly charming and fun.

I had already crocheted these three characters before, but it had been a long time. In fact, Jake was one of the first things I ever crocheted. I realized a few weeks after I had finished that first Jake that I had crocheted the whole thing inside out! I made a Finn counterpart for Ben’s birthday one year, but wasn’t entirely satisfied with how he turned out either, so I was a little nervous about how I was going to improve upon both designs.

I was also incredibly nervous about our trip back to Florida. It was just me and the kids on the long flight there and back and I knew there would be a lot of scheduling and organizing upon our arrival as we wanted to see as many people as possible while we were there. I also knew there would be a lot of conflicting emotions and that it might be especially difficult for my son Jhonen who definitely misses his friends and family and the familiarity that comes with calling a place home for your entire life.

As usual, I didn’t really need to be nervous. The flight there went amazingly well. We enjoyed lots of Disney time, pool time, and family/friend time. We wore lots of sundresses, sunhats, and flip-flops. We rode horses, built sandcastles, posed for photos with Alice in Wonderland, and, lazed in a lazy river. We had so much fun spending time with the people we’ve missed for months, though I noticed Jhonen excitedly talking about his new California house and friends, too.

When we weren’t out on our adventures, I was crocheting these new Adventure Time buddies: Finn from Adventure Time!DSC_0093Jake from Adventure Time! Lumpy Space Princess Amigurumi   DSC_0113 It was hard to say our “until next times” to Florida, but we are happy to be back in California, a place that really is starting to feel like home. And just as we were settling back in on the West Coast, I had to ship my new and improved Finn, Jake, and Lumpy Space Princess right back East.

It was hard to say goodbye to them, too…though I hear they love their new home. And starting next week, Finn and Jake will join Lumpy Space Princess in my shop. Hopefully these guy’s counterparts are going to have tons of adventures with wonderful new people…from coast to coast.

Meet Brody the Surfing Frog!

Meet Brody! He’s lean, he’s green, he’s a surfing machine. At just over three inches tall, Brody is small of stature, but big and very brave of spirit. This little froggy surfer dude wears orange board shorts, always has his white surfboard at hand, and there’s a smile on his face every day…as long as there is sand beneath his…feet?

Brody, the kids, and I went to Crown Memorial State Beach recently. Being a Florida girl, it feels pretty weird to wear closed-toed shoes and sweatshirts to the beach, but there’s something charming about it, too. The kids got filthy, Brody enjoyed watching the parasurfers, and I took lots of pictures. We loved it.

DSC_0059DSC_0047-001DSC_0016  DSC_0056 DSC_0065  DSC_0068 DSC_0087 DSC_0089 DSC_01108748056721_031b18e061_b DSC_00668749182738_92d03eb997_b 8749183634_b7a515b32c_b Crown Memorial Beach Alameda8748062305_6427fb3881_bIn case you were wondering, under that volleyball net is the San Francisco skyline…something else I may never get used to. It still delights and surprises me every time I see it.

Brody flew across the country to Florida to check out Jacksonville’s warm waves. The kids and I will be headed that direction soon, too, on our first trip back since we moved. I look forward to digging my feet into that familiar, soft, white, Florida sand after kicking off a pair of flip-flops…but for those two weeks I’ll miss the California rocks and those misty, curving Bay area hills.