Recently, I joined several of the bf's coworkers for a fun outing of wine and painting sponsored by Pinot's Pallet, a franchise that recently opened a downtown location here in Fort Collins. What fun! $35 buys you a seat in the class, your canvas (and easel and paints to work with) and for just a bit more, you can buy a snazzy frame for your masterpiece. According to the website, BYOB locations vary according to local liquor laws, and some locations have beer and wine available to purchase... We ended up buying a red and a white (I literally couldn't tell you more than that about them).

The concept is easy enough, an instructer leads the class in painting by example. The company has a selection of paintings from which you can choose (either in a private party or by the night). Our class was a rare example where the instructer was new and hasn't actually done the painting, let alone teach it. We all made it through easily enough, she had a script to read and we diligently followed her instructions. The paintings and style of the class are designed to be done by a person of any skill level. Some steps were a little well...duh...for me and my oh-so-obviously-superior skills (is the sarcasm too drippy for you there?). For instance, one of the first steps for "whimsical fall" was to paint a yellow line, using your medium-sized brush, three-quarters of the way down the length of the canvas. The next step was to fill in the space below the painting with yellow paint, using short horizontal swipes of your brush. I finished these steps rather quickly and had a little too much time to drink wine, which made some of the later steps a little difficult, or sloppy, I should say. After the ground had been painted yellow (think filtered sunlight), we painted a blue sky above it and using the flat side of the brush, painted leaves in purple, red, orange, and even pink so that the colors blended and became lighter from left to right across the sky. (This step seemed to take forever---although maybe that was the wine).
Picture
My friend Lauren and I had a blast...and maybe a little too much wine
With the leaves in place, we all painted three long stripes which would become trees. I got pretty annoyed here and my trees ended up a little "halloweeny" as my friend Lauren proclaimed. The rest of the class was spent adding detail, in my case, this meant a bit of drunken water marks and smears to my as-good-as-it-was-gonna-get version of the painting. All in all, it was a terrific way to spend a girls night, and we got a better souvenir than the regular hang-over (although there was some of that as well haha!). I highly recommend this venture, for anyone considering---it would be a great bachelorette activity or for birthdays! And if you don't have something like this in your area, why not just grab some cheap supplies at michaels and host the party yourself? I suppose if you were investing-inclined, you could open your own franchise!
Picture
"Whimsical Eve" (the painting we attempted to re-create)
Picture
The whole gang! (See the website for more gallery shots of the different paintings)
 
Mod-podge is one of the best tools in our crafting closet. It can be used to adhere and seal many different types of crafting projects. I used it to decoupage a fun collage for my little sister, too many photo frames to count, and even my floral placemats. Some thoughts for we clumsy crafters: Firstly, unfortunately mod-podge can be rather, well, sticky (go figure). So it's best to attempt to be careful while waiting for it to dry, and not do things like lay your wet craft on a dusty floor where your doggies can tramp all over it (not sure if you can see the hair stuck to the photo trio below) . It can also discolor fabric and thin paper as in the above frame, if you use too much of it.
Essentially, remember that a little goes a long way. Also, as in many crafts, patience can be a virtue--letting the first layer dry before attempting another coat will help prevent wrinkling, smearing ink and ripping paper. So venture forth and good luck ye clumsy crafter--
 
As you might see from the snapshot to the left, I once had a very cheap and wonderfully tacky brown tweed couch. We obtained said couch from a friend of ours who has been known to be a bit, shall we say, wild. Unfortunately, I was so unhappy with the fabric and condition of the couch, and acted so quickly, that I don't have ny really good "before" pictures, so you will have to use your imaginations. Imagine this lovely brown twead couch has been passed down from distant aunt to niece, survived four years in a dorm room, moved to CO, dragged up and down several different narrow apartment staircases, and switched hands until it was in the possession of my aforementioned friend of ill-repute, wherein it lived in a poorly ventilated garage for a year before we inherited it.
After acquiring the new used couch, and telling my dear mother all about it, she promptly went out and purchased a lovely, loosely woven blue fabric (you can see it nicely juxtaposed in the above picture) super cheap and sent it to me in a huge box. It actually cost more to ship than to buy. I think she bought about 14 yrds, which ended up being a little bit too much (but you can never really have enough fabric). Needless to say, the fabric sat in the box for a good week (or three) before I finally got around to doing something with it.
At the time I didn't have a sewing machine, so I needed an easy way to handsew the whole reholpstery project. After some extensive googling, I ended up combining several techniques. I began with the cushions--which seemed easiest. I very bravely cut a large square of fabric and placed the cushion in the middle. I folded the fabric around the cushion and cut the excess, leaving a few inches (probably better to leave about 4 inches or more, it sucks to run out of seam allowance). Using a backstitch, I stitched up the sides of the cushion, starting from the L shaped end. When done, I had varying amounts of excess fabric leftover at the top of each cushion, so I folded the available fabric underneath the new cover and stitched them closed around the cushion. The last touch on the cushions was to to tuck the corner pockets into the new cover to make pleated ends.
The overall effect was a handsewn border around the cushions (sort of like a box cushion) which is pretty close to what I was aiming for.
It was pretty easy to staple a narrow strip of fabric to the base of the couch. I probably cut too much fabric, but the excess is hidden beneath the cushions. Staples underneath the couch and to the backside of the base keep the staples hidden and the fabric secure around the bottom of the couch.
After I finished the cushions, I took remaining scraps of fabric and individually covered the arms of the couch. I decided pretty early on that it would be too much work to strip the remaining tattered fabric of the couch so I instead covered over it. I stapled the individual pieces of fabric to the wooden frame using a heavy duty staple gun... 
By the way, if you've never used a staple gun, a good tip is to try to embed the staple into the hardest surface of your project (the staples just fall out if not secured into place). Also, they make staples of different sizes, so don't be like me, and think about what you are doing and how thick the fabric and or wood is before you begin. Longer staples are more secure but may require hammering down (as mine did), while shorter ones sometimes are too small to penetrate through all the layers of cloth to get to the wood. Not all staples are compatable with all guns, so check before you purchase anything. Lastly, test your gun before using it in your project (it can be a huge pain to remove misplaced staples, which can cause issues with the fabric draping etc.---I recommend using plyers to remove these).

I inevitably did not have enough fabric to cover the arms the first time I tried. I folded the fabric around the natural curves in the furniture to add some design elements, but the excess attention to detail left the side a little bare.
To fix it, I simply added another, larger, piece of fabric below the curve of the arm and stapled it to the back of the couch as well as on the bottom of the couch (this arrangement allowed me to hide a bunch of sloppily placed staples)...it also looks pretty intentional--a plus for we clumsy crafters.

Next, I had to tackle the backrest...I'd been avoiding it since I wasn't sure how cover the three cushions with their separate lumbar supports; and I wanted to preserve the original detail without going through the effort of adding piping and individually stiching each cushion. Plus I didn't really have a good way to secure the covers, as mentioned, stapling only works if there is something hard to be stapled--eventually I decided on the following plan: I cut individual squares of fabric for each of the two back cushions for each section of the the couch. I then handstiched the two squares together, and the three pieces together so that they would line up against the backrest. I stapled the top of each cover to the back of the couch and allowed the bottoms to be draped over the backrest where they can be tucked into the cushions and into the sides of the couch. 
I will admit that my sewing was most definitely sub-par on this project. I recommend patiently making smaller stitches, which are easier to hide, and tying very secure knots at the beginning and end of the stitch, rather than my version of loose, large back-stitches and feeble knots. Also, next time I do this (probably again without bothering to measure as I should), I will make the covers smaller...too much fabric leads to a lot of tucking in--which can get tiresome. Alternatively, I might explore using dowels to keep tucked fabric in place, although I'm not sure that would work with this style couch.
The last bit to be done was to cover the back of the couch. The original fabric was mostly missing, allowing full views of the the wooden frame beneath. I decided to cut the hanging piece of fabric and then cover over the whole back. I also needed to position the fabric to hide the messy stapling from the backrest cover.
Picture
Well it's good enough for the family anyway :)
...and voila! Good as new and hardly a dollar spent. As an addendum, I would like to point out that the loosely woven fabric is pretty hard to work with, since it resists cutting (frays very easily) and stretches more than it probably should. Also the color has faded a bit, but that is to be expected with two dirty dogs. All in all, I am satisfied, and proclaim it--good enough.
 
Picture
Oops! What a messy cut!
Edges make a difference!
Now for those of you, like me, who stubbornly refuse to adhere to common sense and wisdom, and who continue to not use stencils, rulers, or to sketch ahead of time, it can be suprisingly hard to draw a straight line, let alone cut one--or maybe I just missed that lesson in kindy-garten. While it really is in your benefit to use the aforementioned tools, there are some alternatives. You can fold and tape edges of paper and fabric to hide excess material. If you've already gone ahead and made a messy cut, errors can sometimes be fixed or can be compensated for with a little creativity. Make scalloped edges where you've cut a little unevenly, and fringe hides many errors! If you've over-compensated for a messy edge by making fringe and then accidentally cut a piece of the fringe incorrectly (this will leave an obvious empty chunk), you can sometimes glue missing pieces back into place using hot glue, or the adhesive of choice for your project...not that I've ever done this. So, happy crafting clumsy ones--and remember, sometimes it's just easier to use a ruler..
Picture
A lovely fringe can hide many errors!
 
Making stray marks into faux-design elements. 
This is a common issue of mine, probably because I am constantly painting outside of the lines (when I bother to draw them). For someone such as myself, who is completely lacking in precision, this is a crucial "faking it" skill; a must have in the crafting world.
You can see in the above image, I have chosen to "make it snow" on my peacock. Overall the card ended up looking nice enough, my key phrase, though several elements were unintentionally improvised. The snowing polka-dots began when my hand shook, causing some detail I was adding to Mr. Peacock to drip across the page. After carefully drawing little circles around each drip, I added a few intentional silver drips to complement my snowy background...and voila--! Except that I never can stop embellishing once I've begun, and so I started to outline the snowflakes I had painted. while detailing, I smeared ink and had to improvise a little--the result of which is the extra "crystalline" structure on my snowflakes---perhaps not ideal, but better than wasting the whole card for some minor drips and smears!
As some of you may know, glitter paint can be very thin (good for top coats) and doesn't always give a good polka-dot effect, which was the intention for this christmas card (above)...so while trying to blob an esecially large glop of paint, I mis-fired and ended up with way too much--so I smeared it into a strip with my paint brush and outlined the stems of the feathers in glitter. Annoyingly, my peacock friend didn't seem snowy enough, so I decided to go for it, and added more glitter paint until it looked sufficiently blizardous--he got a little snowed in, but all in all I think it looks pretty good for beig unintentional, the theme here being: overdesign and save your mistakes--no need to give up and throw it out!
 
Picture
A white wine bottle has been turned into a lighthouse by drilling a hole through the bottom and feeding a string of fairy lights through the hole.
My dear mother recently purchased this at a craft fair. Isn't it lovely? I just can't imagine the precision that it takes to turn this wine bottle into a light house. Not having such fine instruments and steady hands, I will have to wait to try this on my own, but I do love the idea of making themed lights like these. I can imagine elegant burgundies filled with berries and whites turned into lanterns for the yard. Even better, using LED fairy lights would avoid drilling the hole in the back for the plug. In short expect to see a clumsy version of these soon--for now I leave you with this tutorial from EHow and some ideas for the future.
 
So it's a little late, but better that than never-- I've decided to share some of my February decorations (mostly heart crafts).
Picture
Paper Heart Chains! Tissue paper is adhered to cardstock with spray adhesive , cut into strips, folded like V's with each end rolled towards the center and secured into hearts using hot glue.
I always love festive linked chains, so I thought I'd try my hand at these little paper hearts. They were surprisingly easy to make, and I love the way that each heart is a little different. I hung some from short chains (below) all over the house. They spin and at quite lovely. ;)
As with all my crafting projects, you may notice some clumsy errors, such as the tissue paper peeling from the edges of each strip...this is fixed if you add sufficient adhesive when initially sticking, or afterword, touch up with some hot glue (careful--the paper is thin and the glue is very hot, unless you've been clever enough to get the low temperature hot glue) Also, be aware that the spray adhesive will discolor tissue paper-I kind of like being able to see the tint of the cardstock through the tissue, but it's something to keep in mind when selecting cardstock.
I just love the way they dangle! As you can see, I also made a long chain (using fishing line) to hang above my windows in addition to the short vertical chains. These are strung in the same way, using a needle that has been single-threaded through each heart and knotted at the ends. This allows the hearts to move around on the chain unless you secure them in place ie: tie them individually onto the string. If you are like me, and want to minimize effort, pull the fishing line string through several places of the heart...or you could use thicker string, but I like the floating effect of fishing line. Now that I have a plethora of these paper hearts, I can make them into a wreath, and save them for next year--and start on the Easter crafts (chickies anyone?)