Crafting, crafting and brain health, crochet, decorating, pendants, Resin

Just as I’d Suspected

My father worked with his hands.  He was a carpenter, furniture maker, drapery sewer, decorator, and mural painter–and these were just his side jobs.  His main job was operating an enormous bucket loader at a sand mine. I didn’t think about it much as a child, but I imagine that moving around piles of sand all day was relatively mind-numbing for someone who thrived on making things beautiful.  “I can’t stand keeping my hands still,” was a phrase he often said when asked how he maintained the energy for his creative work after a 12-hour shift.

I’ve inherited my father’s busy hands.  Whether it’s cooking, cleaning, doing home repairs, crocheting, needle felting, painting, working with resin, or tapping away at my keyboard, my hands must be moving/creating from the moment I wake up until bedtime.   It’s more that just the business of being busy.  I experience a very real brain/heart/hand connection when I’m creating in any form.  I can only describe it as peaceful, calming sense of accomplishment. It feels like I’m totally in control of  the flow of my life and happiness.  While that may sound overly dramatic, it turns out that there is a neuro-chemical payout associate with doing handiwork.

According to this CBS This Morning clip, working with your hands can positively alter your brain chemistry and bolster your mental health.  That sounds like a pretty good pay-off for doing the things that I love!

What do you think?  Does crafting/creating make you feel calmer?  What kinds of handiwork do you most enjoy?  Tell me about it in the comments. 🙂

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Some of the crafts that keep my hands and brain happy!

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decorating, preparing your home for sale, real estate, selling your home quickly, Uncategorized

Tips for Selling your Home Quickly

My eldest daughter is getting ready to put her townhouse on the market and has enlisted my help in getting it ready for sale.  I’ll admit that I’m pretty excited.  Cleaning, staging and decorating are at the top of my list of fun things to do!   

I’m by no means an expert, but in the past 11 months I’ve sold two homes in less than 24 hours after they were listed.  One of those homes was in an area that was difficult for making sales. I don’t attribute my success to luck, I did my research and followed several steps that made a distinct difference.  The biggest help was the fact that my husband and I had been looking for nearly a year for the perfect home for us. I knew what it felt like to enter a home that looked awesome on the outside only to find a cluttered mess in need of repairs, or a funny smell on the inside.  When I began prepping to sell our home and my in-laws’ Hilton Head retreat, I pretended that I was viewing each house as a potential buyer.  What would prompt me to put in an offer, or mark it off my list.  This is the method that I used to ready my two homes for sale:

  1. Touch ups and repairs– A Mr. Clean Magic Eraser and touch up paint are your friends.  They say that painting is the easiest way to refresh a home, but painting takes time and money, especially if you hire someone.  A Magic Eraser will remove most marks from walls.  The marks that won’t budge are easily erased with a few swipes of touch up paint. Most walls and ceilings can look new again with little time and effort.  Take the time to do all of those pesky small repairs that you’ve been putting off like fixing the gate latch or a door that sticks.  These fixes take little time and money ,and make your home move-in-ready for a new owner.
  2. It pays to call in professionals– If you know there’s a major repair that needs done (plumbing, electrical,  HVAC, etc.)  contact a licensed professional and fix the problem before it costs you a sale.  Most buyers request a professional inspection as a contingency and all mechanical or structural problems will be addressed with this inspection.  Hiding a major issue could not only lose you a sale but cost you more in the long run.
  3. Think through upgrades—If you can afford it, it’s tempting to want to  repaint, change out flooring, or renovate bathrooms or the kitchen to make your home more appealing to buyers.  Depending on the location of your home this could cost more money than you get in return.  Your thoughtful upgrades are often redone by new buyers who want their home in their personal style..  It’s best to ask your realtor if an upgrade is worth it.
  4. Get cleaning—  Seriously, clean every nook and cranny like your in-laws are coming to visit for the very first time.  This includes your appliances, bathrooms, walls, ceilings, carpets and anything else that’s staying in your home.  No one wants to see someone else’s filth or clutter.  Rent a storage unit for your extra things or ask a friend or family member to temporarily store them at their home until your sale is made.
  5. Don’t forget outside–Keep your lawn mowed, and trim shrubs and trees. Remove all debris from your outdoor space. Clean your outdoor lighting, power wash your siding, and touch up any chipped paint. A few flowers or potted plants at your outdoor entry, a fresh door mat, and a welcoming door wreath will give your home curb appeal.
  6. Make it smell good—  A thorough cleaning will usually dispel most home odors.  Make sure to wash all curtains that are staying and have the carpets cleaned.  It’s amazing how many cooking odors linger in both.  Don’t over do it with plug-in air fresheners, but put at least one on each floor of the home. Stick with the same scent; apple cinnamon or vanilla are usually good choices to make your house smell homey.
  7. Stage it— Any small furniture that you’re not taking to your new home can be used to define the rooms in the home you’re selling.  A visit to Homegoods, or an online venture to Amazon can provide some inexpensive items that can make a home appealing.  Things like decorative towels in the bathroom or new  throw pillow covers placed over old love seat pillows can brighten up a room.

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    Inexpensive pillow covers from Amazon
  8. Make it positive— In the homes that I’ve sold, I’ve used art work that displays positive messages and pillows or wall decals with positive sayings. This helps a buyer to picture themselves living in a place with good energy.

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    Positive wall decal from Amazon
  9. Throw in a few bonuses—  That older furniture that you’re using for staging might be just what a young person starting out might need to begin life in their new home.  Offer it up as a bonus, separate from the home contract.   Home warranties can also sweeten the pot.  A $500, one year, warranty on appliances or HVAC system can sometimes be the tipping point that makes a sale.
  10. Listen to your realtor—  If you’re hiring a realtor, take their advice.  They know the market and what selling prices are reasonable.  I have a friend who’s been trying to sell her grandmother’s home for over a year because she views it as far more valuable than several realtors and appraisers have. Just because you have a specific number in your head of what you’d like to get for your home, doesn’t mean that the market will bear that.
  11. Be ready to negotiate and don’t be greedy— When the offers begin rolling in be ready to consider them—even the lower ones.  Remember, every month your home stays on the market is another month of expenses that you’ll be paying out.

The items on this list did take a lot of hard work, but it was a labor of love. Our fast sales saved us a lot of money and allowed us to move into our dream home.

Crafting, crochet, Spring Crafts, Uncategorized

It Feels Like Cheating!

I’d been practicing my ripple stitch and, for my second project, I’d planned on making a lovely chevron afghan in teal, white, and gray for my eldest daughter.  Micheal’s was having a fabulous yarn sale and I had a coupon for $5 off every $25 spent on yarn.  The other crocheters in my area must have all had the same coupon, because the yarn bins at Micheal’s were sparse.  I even looked in the black trays beneath the bins  (a trick my daughter who worked at Micheal’s during college taught me) to no avail.

Still recovering from pneumonia, brought on by the flu, I needed a project to keep me busy while resting (something I’m not good at).  It was then that I spied this gorgeous yarn by Caron:

Ooooh, so colorful and rainbow-y, I couldn’t resist scooping up the eight rolls they had left!

I haven’t used a specific pattern for making this afghan. I’ve simply been shaping it for my own comfort. I know my first afghan was relatively decent, but it had some issues with a few of the rows lining up properly.  My goal for this project was to focus on even rows and stitches.  I picked up a box of plastic row markers to aid with this.

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If you’re like me and don’t enjoy counting each stitch, row markers REALLY help in keeping things even!

I began my new project with a 60 inch chain which with a 10 mm plastic hook ended up being 181 stitches.  One my first row I made a double crochet in every other chain link. On my third row, I made a double crochet in each double crochet “V” (if that makes sense), putting my hook through both strands of the “V.”

I’m halfway through my blanket, having used four of the “Chunky Cakes” of yarn.  Here’s my progress:

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I’m really pleased with my even rows!!

I’ve been painstakingly careful with my stitches and row endings.  The color variation of the yarn feels like I’m cheating with all of this color and only three yarn changes.

Once it’s to the length I want, I plan on finishing the top and bottom with a scalloped edge (like a shell stitch–something else I’ve been practicing).  Because my sides are even, I don’t feel like I’ll need to border them like I did my first afghan.

I’ve ordered the teal, gray, white yarn for my other project, and am certain I’ll be finished this blanket by the time it arrives.

What have you been working on?  What tricks do you use to make your work neat and efficient?

 

Crafting, crochet, First try, grandparenting

My First Crocheting Adventure

My wonderful grandmother was an avid crocheter and I was an avid outdoors-child.  Her house and its surrounding orchards and ponds were too full of trees to climb, chickens to play with, and fish to catch for me to actually settle down to a quiet hobby.  Many times, she tried to sit my wiggly-butt down to share her craft with me.  Though I was more than interested in learning, I felt directionally challenged and  could never seem to get the hang of it. “You’ll be able to do it once you’re ready,” she’d say smiling as I’d roll my messy yarn into a neat ball, eager to hurry outside.

A few weeks ago, and forty years later, while shopping in Micheal’s for crafting supplies, I finally felt inspired to give crocheting another try.  As a former teacher, I used thicker pencils, and larger crayons to ready my students little hands for writing and coloring, so it made sense to me to give chunky yarn and larger grade hook a try for my first attempt.    Fortunately, yarn was hugely on sale.  Unfortunately, the supply was limited.  I ended up choosing these colors: (Photos are from http://www.michaels.com)

 

 

 I also purchased this plastic, 11.5 mm hook:

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11.5 mm hook Photo by me

 

Armed with my new supplies and this basic diagram on the double crochet stitch that I conveniently swiped from Pinterest, I set to work:

How To Crochet Double Crochet Stitch
https://pin.it/v6jkb426nce3tn

I  went big with my first project and made an afghan for my daughter.  I didn’t bother searching for a pattern, since at this point I hadn’t learned to read one yet. I decided to just wing it! I’m sure I committed a fair share of crocheting faux pas, but I’m a “learn-by-doing” kinda girl!

My first row was a single chain of 131 stitches and the remaining rows were double crocheted. The blanket ended up being about 3′ X 5.5′ when completed. I used  a bread tie at the end of each row to mark my ending stitch and keep my rows even.  I switched off colors by securely double knotting the new yarn to the old and trimming the ends.  I used Bernat Blanket yarn to make a soft border around my afghan and this is the final result:

 

 

It’s not perfect, but it’s certainly functional and my daughter loves it!  Now, to learn some new stitches and figure out how to read those pesky crochet patterns!

 

What new craft have you recently tried?  Did you take a class, or teach yourself? Tell me about it in the comments!