Sunday, January 1, 2012

What I Learned Last Year...

2011 has definitely not been the best year, and I'm happy to see it fade into the past but I can definitely say that I've learned a lot, this past year. Not many of you may realize that I started A Fish Who Likes Flowers on January 1, 2011, especially since I didn't really start posting regularly until March, but since it's my blogversary, and New Year's, I figured I'd write a post about everything I've learned in the past year (since as crummy as the year has been it wasn't all bad.)

Lesson 1: I learned how to blog

 I know this sounds really basic, but when I started this blog I really didn't have a clue what I was doing. I'd been stalking reading craft blogs for almost 4 months before I decided to jump in myself. When I first started this blog Amazing Boyfriend and I were about to buy our first home and I thought this blog would be a great way to document all the fun projects I was planning to turn our first house into a home. Plans changed when ABF was diagnosed with cancer, and this blog has morphed into sharing with all of you all the crafty things I do to keep myself sane/entertained/relaxed while I spend a good amount of time at home with him. It's nice to be able to share my craft triumphs and failures with others who appreciate the effort behind each endeavor. 

Lesson 2: Fabric Paint

I'd never used fabric paint (or freezer paper) before, but decided to take the plunge in March and make super cool St. Patrick's Day t-shirts for ABF and myself. I fell in LOVE! I was so happy with the end result that I decided that I'd make a project inspired by my mantra of 2011: "I'm gonna put my big girl panties on and deal with it." 

Yes, I did make "big girl" panties for myself (and yes, I still rock them!) Since that first fabric paint project, I've used fabric paint and freezer paper or vinyl stencils to create tons of fun projects. Although, since I've gotten a screen print machine for Christmas 2011, I think my fabric painting days might be behind me, but you never know...

Lesson 3: How To Use Tools

Yeah, I was that girl... the one that would ask my Dad/ABF/brother to do it for me before I'd pick up a screwdriver/drill/etc. ABF even sheltered me a little bit when I decided to jump right in with projects that required drilling, like my whiskey bottle lamp

But after asking him repeatedly to help me with various projects, he finally decided that I needed to learn how to use tools for myself. So he taught me how to use a ratcheting screwdriver, my own staple gun, the random orbital sander (which I mastered when I kept needing it for this project), and his power drill (which I used to make the hanger for this project.) On one outing to the hardware store, he even bought me my own hammer that has a bunch of screwdriver attachments in the handle, which I use all the time. Now if only my Dad would show the same confidence in my tool using abilities and show me how to use his power saw, I'd be all set... 

Lesson 4: Vinyl

If you guys didn't already know that I'm kinda spoiled (no, really, I'll admit it), I received a Silhouette machine for Christmas 2010. To be honest, I wanted it mainly to make stencils for fabric painting and for glass etching. I didn't really even think about using it for making vinyl decals to put on things, but I decided to take the plunge and make personalized Easter eggs for my nieces last Easter.

Since my first vinyl project, I've used vinyl decals on picture frames, my dog's food dish, to personalize coffee cups, champagne glasses, hand sanitizer, signs, and a bottle of special get-well juice.

Lesson 5: Wreath-making

This has probably been my favorite lesson of 2011, and all of the wreaths that I've made have been my most commented on blog posts. 

My moss wreath was the first wreath I ever made and the poor thing was so dried when I finally took it off my door several months later so I took it apart and reused the wreath form on my burlap ruffle wreath. I've made several wreaths this year ranging from rag wreaths to ribbon wreaths to holiday themed wreaths, but the last wreath that I made in 2011, my felt rose wreath, has definitely been my favorite!

Lesson 6: Spray Paint

My first spray paint project came in transforming an old decorative mirror that my Mom gave me. It was a plastic frame with an ugly brass finish. I gave it a good shot of spray paint primer for plastic before painting it with a jade colored paint.


I haven't used spray paint on tons of projects because in Oregon it tends to be either too wet or too cold, plus most of my spray painting has to be done outside in the backyard. But I've definitely had quite a bit of fun with the spray paint projects that I've done, and forsee more of them in the future.

Lesson 7: How To Use a Sewing Machine

In June of this year, I borrowed kidnapped my Mom's sewing machine after a failed attempt to get my granny's sewing machine that I'd inherited to work.


My first project was a pillow, which has since started a sort of obsession and I've made multiple pillows since then. By the way, I think pillows are a great first sewing project since all they really require are straight seams. My favorite pillow that I've made has been the 12" x 16" that I've decided is my seasonal pillow, that I've made several different covers for. This is my current pillow cover.


I've also expanded my sewing skills to make hats, drawstring bags, and most recently a casserole carrier. I definitely plan on expanding my sewing skills in the future.

Lesson 8:  Glass Paint

Although I've only used this lesson a few times, it's definitely been a great one. In a post on another blog, another crafter used glass paint on mason jars to make outdoor luminaries. The glass paint intrigued me since after you bake it it is supposed to be dishwasher safe, which lead me to believe that it could also be weatherproof as well, perfect for our somewhat wet Oregon weather.


I decided to give it a try. I painted and baked mason jars, which ABF helped me turn into solar light luminaries. They turned out so well that I reused the idea at Halloween and used the glass paint to make ghost and jack-o-lantern solar luminaries.


Lesson 9: Fabric Dye

This is another lesson that I learned this year, that I've only used twice, but hey, you live and learn, right? 
I was searching for a plain pink apron to fabric paint a graphic onto for my bestfriend's birthday present, when I happen to notice the fabric dye packets near the fabric paint and decide that I should just dye one myself.


I was pretty happy with how the apron turned out, and have since dyed some onesies, which I also used to fabric paint on.

Lesson 10: How to Link Party

I linked up to my first link party in March with my "big girl" panties. Since then, I've linked up to tons of parties and I'm finding new ones (and new blogs) all the time. 

I even hosted two link parties this year. My Halloween link party.


And a Christmas themed link party.


Hosting these parties made me realize how much WORK there is in hosting a link party. You have to get the word out that you are hosting a link party and visit everyone that links up to let them know that you appreciate them joining in the fun. Unfortunately, my Christmas link party suffered a bit because I got really busy this holiday season and ran out of time. But having hosted these two link parties, I appreciate all the bloggers that host link parties every week because there is a lot that goes into it.

I guess, looking back, I've learned a lot last year, but I'm really looking forward to 2012 and what it holds. I'm competing in my first craft competition, I have a new crafting tool (my screen print machine) that I need to experiment with, and several more lessons I'm looking forward to learning.

Welcome 2012!!!


  1. I don't really like how unproductive this post has made me feel. I think I'm going to have to a round-up of myself to feel like I've gotten things done this year :)
    Hugs and love,
    the other Bethany

  2. Cool projects! The underwear made me laugh! :)


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