Saturday, October 29, 2011

Marble Painting - but with Acorns

We have a lot of acorns - I think I've mentioned that before.  So, when I was looking around for the supplies to do this crazy sounding painting-with-marbles project from the list, I thought, "Wait - I don't need to look for marbles...acorns are round(ish)...we can just use those!"  I think the results speak for themselves.  These beautiful sheets will be perfect for making bows (I'll admit, I'm a bit addicted to this little craft . . . maybe The Container Store would be interested in carrying my line!??!).  

And, here's how you, too, can paint with acorns.  Or marbles.  Or anything that is mostly not a square, and is small enough to fit in an oatmeal container.

First, prepare said oatmeal container (it's the big kind) by placing a piece of blank paper inside it, and securing with tape.  Try to tape on the backside, because if you put tape on the front, there will be a void where the tape is at (I learned this the hard way).  
Then, put your roundish objects in cups or some other appropriate vessel and drip a little paint in.  Now, jiggle the container a little to be sure those round objects are well coated with paint.  Pour the not-so-square bits into your oatmeal container, and don't worry if a little extra paint follows them in.
Now, have your stylishly dressed assistant shake the container.  Actually, put the lid on first, then shake the oatmeal container.  Ahhh, I promise I did not learn the appropriate order for those two steps the hard way.  Swear.
And, enjoy the fruits of your shaking!  We did fall colors; purple, green and blue; green, yellow, and blue; and mostly blue.  My lovely assistant wanted to do ALL the colors, but I persuaded her to stick with 2-3 at a time. 
 Heck, go crazy and do 'em all if you want to - then send me the pictures!
And finally, I made these lovely collage pieces . . . I'll show you the how-to soon.  Want to see how I used them?  Check out my other blog here!
I think I can almost call the list done, since I actually covered acorns in paint to do the painting-with-marbles (I know, they didn't turn out to be cute little jack-o-lantern type acorns when I was done, but seriously, I am ready for a new list!).  So, I only have to glue something to magnets and I'm going to close the chapter on my first to-do list and start a new one.  With only 3 things on it, because 10 was WAY TOO MANY for 1 week.  Way too many.   If only there were 10 extra hours in each day - then I'd be well-rested and done with my first list!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Words of Beauty

From this... this...

 ...and now I have these!
I love these - and many thanks to the original inspiration behind them, Brandy at Baby Blackbird.  I put this on the list hoping I would dig out the canvas I know I have somewhere, but instead, we used the inside of a cereal box - and it looks AMAZING, right?  I am going to coat them in clear laquer tomorrow and put them in frames, and then they'll be wall ready...  

Here's a quick list of how we got from this to this to these :)
1. Cut a cereal box so that you have a square/rectangular piece (or not - I'm thinking of making some pumpkins...).
2. Using stickers (or contact paper you've cut, yourself or with a Cricut), write a word or a message.
3. Paint them - I let the oldest paint her own using a limited pallette so it wouldn't end up a grayish brown color, and I helped the youngest get full coverage with the blues
4. Let dry, then peel off letters - paint should be dry but I don't think you should let it cure, or the paint might flake as you remove the stickers.  I used a piece of scrap cardstock and held it against the edges as I peeled up the letters, just in case the paint wanted to come up, too (except on the "s" because it is curvy). 
5. Enjoy!

Ok - I'm officially half-way through the list - onward!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Scently Spooktacular!

Hmm, as I re-read that title, it seems a bit much...but hey, I am going to stick with it.  What a risk-taker, eh?  Anyway, on to the actual post.  I am back to the list, and I am happy to report this next project was very fun and turned out beautifully.  I will admit that I did it while the oldest was at school and the youngest napped, which may in some small way have contributed to my enjoyment of it :)  It took me exactly 24 minutes to go from pie pumpkin to potpourri pretty - and I took pictures along the way!  Here's how you can make your own:
First, assemble the following:

* 1 pie pumpkin (smaller ones than jack o' lanterns) - they are going on sale now as retailers scurry to get rid of them before Halloween
* carving tools - I like to use a metal spoon to scoop out the insides, and nothing beats those little saws they sell in carving kits
* apple corer - if you don't have one of these, you could just as easily carve a small design to achieve the same effect
* plate - to catch all your pumpkin innards so you can comb through for seeds later (the BEST part of pumpkin carving, in my opinion!) 
* spices - I used cinnamon, pumpkin pie spice, and cloves, but you could use any or none of these, or whole cloves pressed into the inside of the pumpkin
* newspaper and rags - to keep you and your work area from becoming totally grossed up with pumpkin guts
* tea light candle (not pictured)
* optional - florist wire (and needle nose pliers to mess with it) and a cinnamon stick - to make it look even prettier
Now, cut the top off your pumpkin.
Scrape it off.
Use apple corer to make several holes (or cut a small design).
Apply your desired spice rub (or poke in the whole cloves).

Repeat the same process for the pumpkin body.  

If you want your pumpkin to be sensationally seasonal, add a cinnamon stick secured with florists wire to the stem, and curl the ends of the florists wire.
Now, place the tea light inside, and according to Martha Stewart (and pinned here), you'll have about 30 minutes of yum.  I let mine go until the candle burned out, and it doesn't seem to have suffered any ill-effects, so I'm going to light 'er up again tomorrow.  I did choose kind of a tall pie pumpkin vs. the completely round shape, so maybe that helps increase the burning life.  
Doesn't it look so perfect?  I have 3 more pie pumpkins, so I can make another few of these as they wear out (or rot...).   And if you are like me, and the real reason you carve pumpkins is so that you can roast and eat the seeds, use this recipe I found at Petit Elefant.  I love her blog - and the seeds turned out just as delicious!  Warning: you will get sucked in to the beauty of her blog and will read more posts than just the one I linked to, so plan accordingly :)
And, because I wanted my house to really smell like fall (even though it is again 80 degrees outside!), I made a simmer, too. 
Nothing easier than this - put all ingredients into a small saucepan and simmer on your stovetop.  Keep adding water as needed so that your simmer ingredients don't bake on to become a permanent part of the pot's interior.  Now, I love cloves, so this simmer is heavy on the cloves... but you can easily customize it to your liking.  Other great additions: a splash of vanilla, a spoonful of pumpkin puree, orange slices, brown sugar, butter (add the last two together and you've got a delicious caramel-ly smell).  Just keep an eye on it - the water starts to go pretty quick at the end!
Do you have any fun fall crafts that make your house look (& smell) delightful?  Post a link in comments or email me at and I'd love to feature your idea here!

Monday, October 24, 2011

The Best Birthday Yet

My birthday is over, and I received so many wonderful gifts from my family.  My favorite memory from this year will be the birthday wishes I received 3 mornings in a row from my toddlers (I've mentioned before how this age group really runs with it when given a theme!). It's a great way to start the day, though, and I'm missing it now that they've moved on to the next great idea.  The wonderful weekend of celebrating was truly topped off by sunny, dry weather with temperatures in the 70s, and it has spilled over into the beginning of the week.  We spent the whole day outside today, and the colors were all so amazing, I had to snap some pictures...

This is the mug my almost-sister-in-law got me  from Anthroplogie (she's marrying my brother next October).  Doesn't it just look perfect with the fall pallete?  I love it - and I might end up using it more often for a vase than I do for beverages!   The poor mums came from a plant to which I was trying to give a more permanent home in my yard - it broke off at the base as I went to put it in the ground.  I planted it anyway, hoping it will come up next spring.  It's not looking good - however, it does have a better chance than the sprig of flowers my daughter "planted" in the flower bed - she really loves to help!
Here are some other pictures I took - of the above mentioned affianced.  I'm no professional, and really, the weather and backdrop did as much to set the mood as I did!  But, I think they turned out pretty well - for a novice!

Like the ampersand?  I got it from Say Hello on Etsy - along with so many other wonderful items!  I love the word "ampersand", and I do like to look at ampersands, but unfortunately, that's one of the first pictures I pinned on Pinterest, and somehow, the magical wizard who chooses a few initial pinners for new people to follow picked people with ampersand boards . . . very full boards.   So, I had lots of ampersands at first, but I'm starting to branch out!  
Tomorrow, it's back to the list - 10 items was perhaps a bit much to attempt in 1 week.  I'll try to finish it in 2 - if it really does start raining on Wednesday as predicted, the chances of completion will be greatly increased!  Next time, I'll do 5, or maybe 3, and then I might actually have a remote possibility of finishing in 1 week ... I did make some fabric flowers tonight using this tutorial (I know, I realize they aren't on the list, but I have really been wanting to make them!!).  I am hoping to post pictures of my final project tomorrow, but I have some Halloween crafting to do, too!

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Bigger & Better Projects

OK, I admit it, I've had to abandon my list for the week.  It's Saturday night, and I only got the three things done I'd already blogged about :(  But, I have not been sitting idly by . . . oh no, I've been getting ready for the second birthday of my youngest.  And by getting ready, I mean making up for the first birthday party he didn't have - well, we had a party, but the theme was fall (not exactly a stretch, I mean, it's October).   And by theme, I mean I got paper plates with leaves on them.  I don't know why it seems like so much more work to make things "special" after the first kid.  But, I have vowed to renew my energy and make his milestones as memorable as those of his sister.  So . . . check this out.  
The massive pictures come from a website called Rasterbator.  Sounds pornographic, but it's actually incredibly cool, and best of all, free!  I found it through a blog I follow . . . but which one?  There are so many, I am still sifting through - so I'll post as soon as I remember/figure it out.  These pictures are so amazing - and you could print them in color, too, if you wanted to spend the money on ink (I didn't, since this is not a permanent art installation!).  
I also whipped up some Cricut art using the Boys Will Be Boys.  I love it and will be using it a lot - it's comes with two fonts, in addition to dozens of boy themed art.  But, the pictures really take the cake - I can't wait to make more - I have a 20 x 12 foot all to decorate in our bonus room that needs some TLC. This is WAY more affordable than any other art I've found!
Also, I had to reorganize my craft room before I could let the public see it.  The piles had gotten alarmingly haphazard, likely to crush an unsuspecting bystander at any minute, and I believe there were at least 5 fire code violations.  So, I took a $15 bookcase and dressed it up in 10 minutes.  Nine sheets of 12x12 scrapbook paper and some Mod Podge turned the backing board into something much prettier. 
It's not done, but it looks good enough that I was happy to fill it up with my previously teetering supplies.  I'll post pictures of the whole room someday, perhaps when I've had a little more time to make it look "homemade."

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

And the List Rolls On ... with other random thoughts of paranoia

Ah, yes, the list.  Here it is, the end of day #3 (I started on Monday) and I'm only 3 projects into my list.  We are going to have to go gang-busters tomorrow and Friday to get this done - the weekend is already all filled up with birthday party plans for the littlest Meerdink.  
Anyway, I should've known that with such an auspicious and completely error-free start, things were bound to go downhill.   Where else could the list go?  If I had my druthers, one of these little projects would have accidentally resulted in some good old-fashioned alchemy - i.e. my Elmer's glue would have magically become GOLD!  But, instead the second fun-filled activity I attempted was hard work, took too long to keep the toddlers occupied (read: I did it mostly by myself), and was a HUGE mess.  The latter is probably my biggest beef with it.    I'm not posting any pictures of the process because it was so labor-intensive and required such close supervision (a blender + boiling water + two toddlers = possible trip to ER, and I've been at work enough lately) that I could not take them.   A close second to my alchemy dream is temporary drone cloning - wherein, after stirring the borax into my solution, another "me" appears, only this one only wants to clean toilets and fold laundry, and then melts back into goo (in the sink, of course!) when she's done with her chores.  Alas, that was not to be.  Instead, we got this:
It looked pretty enough with the lids on, arranged in nearly ROY G. BIV order (no indigo, but a pink and a brown thrown in at the end - HEY, brown is a color, too! OK, OK, it was supposed to be purple).  

However, once we got to the bathtub, I found that the previously liquid "paint" had returned to a semi-solid gelatin that had partially separated into a clear gel and an opaque mess, which I had to put into a baggie to mash up.  Maybe that's why the instructions said to put the paint into a baggie . . . hmmm, whoops!  Anyway, I was again so busy mushing paint up, helping the little ones with their baggies of soap and generally keeping things under control that there was no time to take pictures.  Plus, I probably would have gotten my camera all sudsy.  If you want to try this and prove that I am a big loser at interpreting the recipe, go to this site.  I'm all for tips and tricks on how to improve it, because I think if it had worked, it would have been awesome.  On the upside, my tub is now extremely clean, my bathroom smells like Ivory soap (which I like), and I used my blender for the first time and didn't have to wash it before using it (right, because I used it to chop up soap!).  
That was yesterday.  It was with great trepidation that I turned to my list today.  I wanted a project I could do by myself and not feel like I'd wasted a lot of energy and supplies without enriching my children's lives.  The bows seemed like a perfect fit... and they turned out gorgeous!  
I have stacks and stacks of artwork from my kids - each painting too precious to throw away (look at her use of color here, and a precious hand print there!).  And then, after my great clean-out of 2011, I realized that my kids will TP my house with these art projects if I save ALL of them and then bring the U-haul over to their new houses with the loot!  I mean, they aren't even in real school yet!  
Wonderfully, these bows were really simple to make.  I used tape to hold the ends of the figure-eights together (see site for fabulous tutorial) and then I used this great glue called Quick-Dry Adhesive from Scotch that dries in about 4.392 seconds to hold all the parts together.  I'll be honest, I didn't count how many figure-eights I used - I just kept adding more until it looked good.  I did make them slightly smaller as I stacked them up by just scooching in the ends so that there was a greater area of overlap at the center.  I also added a single loop to the center of my bows to finish them off like the professionals do.  Just in time for the birthday party - I've got bows to match my hand-painted paper!  Christmas wrapping just got a whole lot cheaper.

Finally - - - random thoughts of paranoia:  As I purchased the supplies for this week, I had the thought that if Big Brother really is watching, he must be wondering what the @$@)!! I was planning to do with my little cart of horrors.  Keep in mind, I stopped at the store on my way home from work, which turned out to be 1 AM.  Here's what I bought: 

2 large bottles of Elmer's glue
1 box of Borax
1 small bottle of Scotch Quick-dry Adhesive
3 small pumpkins
2 dozen eggs (we eat a lot of eggs at our house - and we were out)
8 bars of Ivory soap
4 cans of spray paint (for a project that's not on my list - keep an eye out next week)

I can only imagine what kind of mischief an evil mastermind might have cooked up . . . fortunately, I only dabble in good craft magic.  Thank goodness I already have the marbles, buttons, and regular paint I needed for the rest, or I might have been escorted out by security.  

Monday, October 17, 2011

Gross Play Dough (way more fun that it sounds like it would be)

So, we embarked on our to-do list of projects as posted here, and I am so amazed at how well the first one went - this is going to be a really fun week.   Even my kids agreed - the oldest said, "This was a super fun project, Mommy.  I just love gross play dough."  (This is what we called the Flubber we made using a recipe I found here.)  Gross play dough indeed - it is hard to believe that we started with two completely liquid mixtures, added them together . . . and initially got this . . .

. . . which quickly took over the entire bowl . . .

. . . and finally ended up as this rubbery, squishy, moldable but oozing pile of awesome!  They loved it - the little one doesn't speak much English, but he played with it for nearly an hour. 

 So, here are my tips for the recipe:

I found that the original recipe would have made a HUGE amount of one color.  So, I took the original recipe and divided it by 3, to make 3 different colors.  These three colors fit into one 32 oz yogurt tub for storage :)  I also accidentally bought Elmer's Glue-All for one of my bottles of glue (you'll need about 2 and 1/3 big bottles), instead of regular Elmer's.  The batch made with straight Glue-All was way more watery, but I could still pick up the blob and knead it, there was just lots of water left in the bowl.  I used glass bowls and plastic forks because I wasn't sure what the magic behind this little project would do to my "real" dishware and cutlery.  The kids thought this was so fun, I'm sure we'll be making more and more!  I've got to find a way to buy Elmer's by the gallon!  The yogurt container keeps it nice and, I mean fresh.  Bonus - when you flip it over and squish it out, it flattens into that nice circle I used as a backdrop for the recipe!

**UPDATE** As of 12/29/11, our gross play dough is just as fresh as ever - thought it has now melded into one solid grayish-purple color.  This has in no way decreased the level of enjoyment my children derive from it.  

I'm linking to:  Freestyle Friday at Happy Hour   Best Ideas for Kids at Creative with Kids

Friday, October 14, 2011

Top 10 To-Do List for the Week

(5) Painting with marbles:

My hope is that by posting this, I feel accountable to get these things done!  Even more 

DIY Fall Garland

Take one box of shatter-proof ornaments and a spool of coordinating cord (or the ribbon of your choice).  Of course, you can also use glass ornaments, but you'd have to be a lot more coordinated and less clumsy than me.  I saved the box the ornaments came in, too, so I can store my garland.  These supplies were on sale at Hobby Lobby for 1/2 off in the Christmas aisle last week - and will be again, I'm sure.  String one ornament on, tie it, then string another, tie it, etc, etc, ad nauseam, until your garland is as long as you want it, or you've run out of ornaments, or cord, or both.  I absolutely love how mine turned out - I think I'll be making one for Christmas, too! 
Fall garland - The whole shebang

Fall garland - detail

Fall garland - in situ

Fall garland - in situ too

I'm working extra this week - not sure if that's the source of my new Latin obsession or not . . . we don't use a lot of Latin in the ER . . . it's probably more related to sleep-deprivation!  See a Christmas Version here on Pinterest!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Word Art Wednesday - GRACE

I do

DIY Shirt Dress for Girls

As promised, here's my take on the newly ubiquitous "shirt" dress for girls - take an old grown-up's shirt (or I guess if your 12-year-old wears an adult size L, you'd be good, too!) and turn it into a darling "new" outfit for the younger kids.  
First, I started with a shirt I don't wear very often - it clings in all the wrong spots. (My daughter heard me refer to my love handles and now constantly asks if she can hold onto my "handles."  And the answer is no.)  For some helpful sewing tips for this project, go here.  Another tip - the squares on my cutting mat are 1" square.

First, I cut off the sleeves, carefully, right next to the seam (so that the seam is still attached to the sleeve).

Then, I used a shirt that goes on easily over my daughter's head. I set the shirt in the center and marked about 1/4" beyond its edge on each side, then matched the two edges of the adult shirt's neckline (since it is a v-neck, the new markings necessitated adjusting the front of the shirt up so that the neckline matches.  Then, sew in a line matching the original slope of the shoulder over to the sleeve opening.  Remember, use a medium width/length zig-zag stitch (if you don't have a serger), and stop frequently to make sure knit isn't stretching too much. FYI: The 3T shirt I used has a neckline that measures about 7 1/2 inches across (so that's about 15 inches "around").  I also checked the neck hole before moving to the next step by slipping it on my daughter - that way I could fix it if it was too big/small before I had added a bunch of other elements.

To start the gathered skirt, I lined up the bottom of the shirt so that the front and back are even (this is important because when you adjusted the neckline it may have moved the front or back up or down, so if you don't align the bottom edges, your new dress will have a funky hemline).  I used one of my daughter's dresses to measure for the empire waist.  The bodice ended up being about 6" from top to bottom and 10 1/2" across at the base.
Next, to make the gathers for the skirt, sew along the top edge using a straight stitch on the longest setting and sew a scant 1/4" from the top.  I sewed along the front, stopped, and then sewed along the back so that I could gather them separately, since I find making the gathers equal out a very difficult step.  To gather the fabric, tie the top and bobbin thread together at one end, then at the other end, hold one thread and pull the other until the skirt is 10 1/2" wide (so 21" all the way around).  The tips listed above also have a gathering tutorial - check it out here.

Even up the bodice by smoothing it out from the top seams down and trimming straight across (either using another dress/shirt as a guide or trimming about 6" from the top for a 3-4T sized dress).  Also, adjust the sleeve opening - I used the black shirt pictured above to mark how wide the shoulders should be, then made a curve down to the base of the bodice so that across the bottom the bodice would be 10 1/2" wide.
It's time to make the sleeves (sorry, I forgot to take a picture of this, so I have to substitute pictures from the first attempt!).   First, mark the curve of your sleeve opening using the bodice on the original shirt's sleeve - this will determine the width of your sleeve at the top where it joins the bodice (I used permanent marker so it would show up, but a washable pen/sewing pencil would be a safer bet!).  Second, mark the width at the sleeve's end.
 Of course, this version is short-sleeved, so you don't have to worry about length, but if you do make a long-sleeved version, just use another kid's shirt that has long sleeves to determine the length  of your new kid-sized sleeve. 
 Then, cut in a straight line from the base of the curve to the mark you made at the end of the sleeve, and sew, using the zig-zag stitch, along that line, leaving you with a sleeve-tube that is open on both ends.
Pin the top opening of the sleeve and the sleeve opening of the bodice right sides together, matching bottom seams, and sew.  
 Finally, pin the bodice and skirt right sides together matching the side seams and sew, making sure your gathers stay evenly spaced.  Turn it right side out and - Voila - you have a dress!
I felt it needed a little something, and I just happened to have velvet elastic with a ruffled edge, so I added it to the seam between the skirt and bodice.  I still used a zig-zag stitch when I sewed it on so that it would still all be stretchy.  If you are wondering how I "happened" to have this, you clearly don't understand the depth of my crafting stash - I have everything for most projects, and usually in a couple of different colors (I have black velvet elastic, too!).

This only took me about 45 minutes, which includes several child-care breaks!  As a bonus, my daughter thought it was so cute and comfy she wanted to wear it to bed.  Sadly, I just had a garage sale, so additional fodder for more versions is in short supply - oh well, I'll be getting my winter clothes out soon, so perhaps I'll try the long-sleeve version again!

My inspiration for this came from this pin & this one - both from the fabulous blog Make It and Love It.  For another super quick & easy project, check out this blog: Lookie What I Did!  

I linked this to We Did It! at Sew Much Ado and  A Pinteresting Link Party at Here's to Handy Andy