Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Happy Halloween!

We just got power back.  Yay!   It feels so good having hot water, a working fridge, lights, and the internet again.  Sadly, some of our family is still left without power.  We're hoping that everything gets fixed soon.  

Even though it doesn't really feel like Halloween, I still wanted to wish you a Happy Halloween! Here's a photo of Baby Chuck in his Mr. Potato head costume.

DIY Mr. Potato Head Baby Halloween Costume




We're just going to have a low-key day today.  With the terrible weather conditions, I'm so thankful that we were able to celebrate Halloween last Friday at our nearby library.  They did such a nice job bringing the Halloween spirit to the kids.


Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Queens County Farm Museum


Dear Sandy,

You're not playing nicely with others.  I'm sorry, but I'll have to ask you to leave.  No treats for you.  Please go away!

Leslie



As I'm writing this post, Sandy is outside loudly howling and rattling our windows.  We've briefly lost power a couple of times, but I think we should be ok.  *Crosses fingers*

Hubby and I have been watching the news and it's horrible seeing all the flooding and damage.  We hope everyone is able to stay safe. 


To mentally escape from the craziness outside, I'm posting several photos from last weekend's pumpkin picking adventure.  (Looking at colorful photos makes me happy.)  It was our first time visiting the Queens County Farm Museum.  Just an hour away, we felt like we left our urban environment behind. 

Who knew that such a beautiful place existed in New York City?
 










  These pictures are such a far cry  from what's going on outside.  Eek.  Please stay safe! 

Monday, October 29, 2012

Hurricane and pumpkin carving

As we waited for Sandy's arrival, I spent the night carving a pumpkin and eating ice-cream.  



Here's hoping that Sandy quickly comes and goes.  Stay safe!  Hubby, Baby Chuck, and I are hunkering down in the apartment until the storm passes through.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Crapty Friday- Faux metal magnets made with glue, aluminum, and cardboard

I can't believe it's Friday already.  Time is really whizzing by!  We're still doing some last minute Halloween preparations over here.  I just finished sewing Baby Chuck's super simple costume.  We're also planning on picking out and carving pumpkins this weekend.  Hopefully we aren't too late and there are still good pumpkins to be found.  Eek!   

This week I crapted two kitty magnets.  I was inspired to try out this crapt after seeing this awesome  post.  My kitty magnets were made out of aluminum foil, cereal boxes, and old magnets that I saved from  a magnetic notepad.  (After finishing the last page of the magnetic notepad, I saved the magnets and used them again.)  

Here are the materials that I used:
- magnets  <-- crap
- cereal boxes
- pencil
- Sharpie
- glue
- glue stick
- aluminum foil
- Q-tip
- paper towel
- scissors
- black craft paint (the original set of directions used shoe polish, but we didn't have any so I improvised)
- hot glue gun

Directions:
Step 1:  I cut out two rectangles from the cereal boxes.  These became the base of my magnets.  I doodled images on both and then traced my doodle with glue.  I let the glue dry overnight.  (Note:  I made very simple designs because glue lines are pretty thick.  Later I used a pencil to add details.)

Step 2:  I cut out two pieces of aluminum foil that were bigger than my rectangles.  I glued the aluminum foil onto each rectangle.  Then, I carefully rubbed the aluminum foil to reveal the raised cat shape underneath. (Note: I placed a paper towel between my fingers and the aluminum foil to make sure that I wouldn't rip or scratch the foil.)

Step 3:  I used a Q-tip to rub around the glue.  This made the raised glue bits further stand out.

Step 4:  I trimmed the aluminum foil and glued the excess bits onto the back.

Step 5:  I used a pencil to create texture by drawing different patterns and finer details.
 Step 6:  Using my Q-tip and paper towel, I dabbed craft paint onto small portions of the magnet.  Then I quickly wiped off some of the paint.  The black paint helped the patterns and raised bits to further stand out.  It also made the aluminum foil look less shiny. 

I repeated this dab and wipe off procedure until I got a look that I liked.  To further emphasize the details, I lightly traced portions of my design with the Sharpie marker. 

Step 7:  I glued the magnets onto the back of my cat images and voila, two finished magnets.
This was a pretty fun process.  I felt like I was making some counterfeit antique items.  Don't the finished products look a lot more substantial and expensive than they really are? 

Thanks for joining me on another crapting adventure.
Hope you have a great weekend! 

Thursday, October 25, 2012

DIY Halloween window clings

I made these window clings on a whim because I still had left over black glue from my  DIY faux stained glass project

I doodled Halloween images onto a piece of paper.  Then, I traced the images in glue on a  piece of wax paper. Afterwards, I let them dry about 24 hours. (Yah, I was surprised it took that long for the glue to dry too!)

Just realized now that my bat looks like a black golden snitch with eyes


Tada!  Spooky!

As you can see, these clings aren't quite as nice as the ones from the store.  They are kind of bumpy and don't completely stick to the window.  But, they're one of a kind and fun to make.

Because I lay down the black and white glue at the same time, they mixed together as they dried.  (Now my ghosts a bit spookier than I intended.  Eek!)  When I make window clings again, I'm going to outline my images in black (or whatever color) first. Once that dries, I'll fill the images in with my other glue. 

Also, the clings didn't initially stick to the windows.  I had to wet the back of the cling with a bit of water and then stick it to the window.  (Tip learned here.) Somehow the water helps the clings to stick.  Water also dripped down the window as I stuck them up.  But not to worry! Once they were sufficiently stuck, I just wiped the smudges and dribbles up.

I think the Halloween decorations are helping Baby Chuck to get into the Halloween spirit.  He's so cute.  He keeps pointing to the clings and and pumpkin garland and growling. 

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

What did you fail at today?


When I was in elementary and middle school, I was deathly afraid of getting bad grades.  Once I got a B (which my mind translated to F) on a test and I cried and cried and cried.

When I got to high school, the stakes became higher. I learned about the triad of dreaded acronymns- GPA, PSAT, and SAT. 

*Shudder shudder shudder* 

I wore them like heavy chains around my heart.  I became even more afraid of failing.  On the outside I showed a smiley faced demeanor and acted like I didn't care too much.  But inside I was fiercely competitive.  School was the one thing that I was always good at.  I studied hard and wasn't happy unless every grade was some sort of A.  I put a lot of pressure on myself because I didn't want to be labeled the dreaded F word: Failure.

*Shiver*

This September, for the first time in twenty-seven years, I'm no longer a student.  I'm no longer working for a grade and dreading what someone will label me.   (If you're interested in my decision to drop out of the PhD program, you'll have to wait a big longer.  I'm still reflecting on that whole journey.  That'll be for another post, for another day, for another blog...)


Now that I'm no longer being graded, I feel a loosening of the weights around my heart.  Gone are the scary nightmares where I'm back in school and *gasp* asked to take a ridiculous math exam that I didn't study for.

Now that I'm not being graded anymore, I'm giving myself a free pass.  I'm giving myself permission to fail.

Wait, strike that.  I'm encouraging myself to fail... every day.

Surprised?

Last spring I heard an interview of Sara Blakely, the inventor of Spanx.  (According to Forbes magazine, she's the world's youngest self-made billionaire.)  When I listened to her journey, I was struck by a story she shared about her father.  Every night he would ask his children to name one thing that they failed at that day.  Faced with this question night after night, Sara was encouraged to try to do new things every day. 

She learned not to be afraid of failing.  She also learned that failure didn't happen when things didn't work out.  Failure meant not pushing yourself to try new things, not pushing yourself to do and be more than the day before.

That story planted itself into my heart.

I'm going to fail at something every day.  This way I can stop being afraid of things and grow.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

What's up, Baby Chuck?

Yesterday Baby Chuck was having a blast playing with his toys.
I took the opportunity to take some photos.
He's such a funny little guy.

 





PA236589.AVI from Pink Stripey Socks on Vimeo.

Monday, October 22, 2012

I need my fix



It's finally happened.

A big name craft store moved into our town.
It's a 10 minute drive from our apartment.

I promised myself that I would be good. I'd only go in and peek around.  Just one peek couldn't hurt right? 

But one peek lead to another and soon I found myself walking through all the aisles, "oohing" and "ahhing"  over everything.  What sparkly baubles!  So many colorful sheets of paper!  Ooh, they sell undecorated wood?

I couldn't help myself.
I bought some items today. 

And I'll be heading back tomorrow. 

I think I'm a crafting junkie!

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Thanks




I just wanted to say a great big thank you for your outpouring of kindness last week.  I was really surprised and touched by all your thoughtful comments and emails.  Thank you for your encouragement and thank you for sharing your stories with me as well.

I started this blog two years ago.  I created it on a whim as a place to store random stories and thoughts that made me happy.  I never dreamed that I would keep it going for this long or that it would help me to overcome some shyness and find community.

Thanks for joining me on this journey and thanks for your encouragement and support.

I think this week is going to be a great one. 

Friday, October 19, 2012

Parenting stories and tips

Did you ever have a week where you felt like everything you did was wrong?

I know I'm not a perfect parent.
And I know that I could learn a lot from other mommies.

But sometimes I find it so difficult to just smile and nod when yet another mother or nanny gives me unsolicited advice. 

It always comes about the same way.
            First, she asks The question, "How old is he?"
            I respond, "13 months."
            They seem surprised.  "Really?  But he's so small.  He only looks (insert number less than 10) months.  And he still isn't walking?"

Even though I've had this conversation several times, it always hurts like a knife to my chest.  Everyone seems to operate under the assumption that a healthy baby is big and walks around by himself.  

And then the ladies always continue with those two dreadful words, "You should..."

Stab stab.

I'm beginning to dislike those two words.  Yes, their advice comes from a good place, but sometimes I just don't want to hear it.  They don't know me and they don't know my child.

They don't know how we battled terrible eczema during his first year of life.  They don't know about all the allergy testing and sleepless nights that we went through. They don't know how we once had to change his bed crib sheets every night because he would scratch and rub until his face and head bled.  They don't know that we're doing our best to live and eat normally given (what seems like) our every-growing list of allergens:  wheat, soy, barley, nuts, and bass.   

I'm crying as I'm writing this, because it's just so frustrating.  Yes, I am a new mommy.  Yes, I have lots to learn.  Yes, I'm making lots of mistakes along the way.  But I'm sorry, sometimes I just don't want to hear your advice, well meaning or not.

Maybe my kid is small.  Maybe he should eat more.  Maybe I shouldn't carry him so much. But you know what?  Please just back off.  I'm already berating myself enough. I'm just doing the best that I can.


And lately when I've been getting like this, I always try to think back to all the parenting tips and stories that I do appreciate hearing. You know which ones I'm talking about.  They're the ones that make me laugh and remind me that all parents make mistakes, kids do crazy-funny-scary things, and we're all just trying to love our kids the best that we can.
Here's what one mommy confessed to me at the park the other day:
 


And you know what?
Her little girl looked just fine to me.

Thank you, cat food girl's mommy, for reminding me that things will be ok. 

Crapty Fridays- Make a Halloween garland out of an egg carton

Before we talk about today's crapt, let me just begin with this short poem about crapting: 

Crap is destined for the garbage
and therefore it is free.
When I use crap to make my crafts,
a-crapting I will be.

Today's crapting project is a Halloween inspired one.  Our apartment desperately needs Halloween-y decorations.  (We currently only have a pair of Day of the Dead candle holders)  So, I whipped up a super easy Halloween garland out of an egg carton and string.      

Materials:
- egg carton
- string
- craft paint
- paint brushes
- craft knife
- scissors
- newspaper/scrap paper/paper bag
- Sharpie marker


Directions:
1. I cut out all the little egg holders in my egg carton.  (Is there a name for those things?)


2. I painted the little egg holders orange and green.  
This is probably as close as I'll ever get to growing pumpkins



3.   Once my paint dried, I drew faces on my tiny pumpkins.
Doesn't this look like a school photo?  Can you spot the naughty pumpkins in the back row?



4.  I cut two slits on the top of my pumpkins.  Then I strung my pumpkins together.



Right now they're just smiling and dangling away above our table. Seeing their cute faces when I eat cereal in the morning makes me happy.

Happy crapting!

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Black beans and chocolate

Yummy or yucky?

Black beans, oatmeal, cocoa powder, sugar, and maple syrup


Last Saturday morning I thought I would change things up.  Instead of making the usual mochi cake, I tried out two new recipes for wheat-free black bean brownies. 

I was super excited to try out the new recipes.  Hubby, on the other hand, was extremely skeptical of the strange black bean and chocolate pairing.  It turns out that he had good reason to be.  My first batch came out shockingly sweet and sludgy.  It was essentially inedible and we had to toss the brownies out.  My second batch turned out tasteless, pasty, and dry.  

After these two failed  attempts, I thought that hubby might be right.  Perhaps black beans and chocolate weren't meant to be friends after all?

Now that my tummy had a couple of days rest, I'm feeling re-energized and determined to tweak my previously used recipes.  Hopefully I'll figure out that perfect combination of ingredients to create a yummy dessert that's chocolatey and high in fiber. 

Then we could eat chocolate all the time and  be healthy too. 

Do you know of a good black bean brownie recipe?    

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Central Park

Can I just say how happy I am that it's no longer raining here on the east coast?!?  Can I get a "whoop whoop?"  (Whoop whoop!)  Baby Chuck and I are loving the bright and warm days.  We're doing our best to soak up every last bit of sunny goodness before winter comes. 

I think last Saturday definitely marked a turning point in the weather.  Hubby, Baby Chuck, and I seized the day by meeting up with some friends and walking through Central Park.  I loved seeing the swarms of tourists and natives out enjoying the good weather.

Even though we live just across the river, we really don't visit the city as often as we'd like.  Whenever our car crosses the river, I always begin "oohing" and "ahhing" over all the sights. 

I really love New York City and it's just so beautiful in the fall. 




This must have been wedding photo day because we saw a total of three brides walking around!




I so want to make this bubble man's special wand.




Monday, October 15, 2012

DIY Faux Stained glass

I love stained glass. There's something so beautiful about seeing sunlight shine through all those brightly colored panels.  I think my dream house would have a room filled with tons and tons of stained glass windows. (A girl can dream, right?)  

Since we're still living in a small apartment, I'm putting my dreams for that stained glass room on hold.  But what can I say?  The heart wants what it wants.  So this gal is going to craft some stained glass while she waits. 

Armed with this awesome faux stained glass tutorial, I brought forth my inner glass artisan.

Materials:
- full bottle of glue
- clear glue
- pencil and paper
- Sharpie marker
- thin, blunt paintbrushes
- craft paint in various colors
- mini muffin tin/ mini cups (to hold paint)
- craft knife
- picture frame
- skewer

Steps:
Step 1:  I took the glass panel out of my picture frame and cleaned it. 


Step 2:  I pulled out the white sheet of paper inside of my frame and used that to draw my stained glass design on.  (If you're missing that sheet, you could also just tape several pieces of paper together and draw on those.)
I really wanted a groovy and tasty pattern.



Step 3:  I created the "lead."  To do this, I emptied out a bit of glue from my bottle.  Then, I added several drops of black craft paint into the bottle.  I used my skewer to stir the paint and glue together.  (Note:  It didn't take very much black paint to turn the glue black.  I tried not to put too much paint into the glue bottle because I didn't want my  "lead" to get very watery and not dry nicely.)



Step 4:  I put the lid back onto my glue bottle and did some practice strokes.  When I had a good feeling for how quickly the glue flowed, I started tracing my design onto the glass panel.  (Note:  I still had some problems with the glue spreading.  But I took care of that in step 5...)
See how the seeds on the left ended up black?  It's ok... I fixed that in step 5.



Step 5:  I let the "lead" dry overnight.  Then, I used my craft knife to carve and peel away any the messy bits.
See? The seeds are fixed!



Step 6:  I poured clear glue into my mini muffin tin container.  Then, I put drops of craft paint into each of my containers to create different colored "glass paint." (Again it didn't take very much paint to color my clear glue.)  I used this paint to paint my glass.  (Note:  Make sure your paint fills in every nook and cranny.  Otherwise you'll end up with clear glass bits.)

Step 7:  After my paint dried overnight, I noticed that I had painted over my "lead."  No worries, I used my trusty Sharpie marker to re-color my "lead."   Then, I placed my glass back into my frame.   Tada!


 
Happy crafting!

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Bunny Halloween Coloring page 2

So my poor bunny still doesn't know what to wear for Halloween.  Perhaps he should wear one of these costumes?

(To see the previous coloring page, click here)
Halloween bunny coloring page 2


Friday, October 12, 2012

Crapty Fridays- Day of the Dead candle holders out of baby food jars

Last year hubby, Baby Chuck, and I went to our first Day of the Dead Celebration (click here to see photos).  Feeling inspired by the colors and festive atmosphere of the holiday, I made two skull candle holders out of saved baby food jars.

Materials:
- clean baby food jars  (<--Crapt!)
- craft paint
- Sharpie marker
- pencil and paper
- paint brushes
- candles

1.  I cleaned my baby food jars.  It was tough removing the sticky glue residue on the glass.  I had to use a lot of elbow grease and Goo-gone.
Sparkling clean!


2.  Then, I cut out two rectangular pieces of paper to fit inside each bottle.  I doodled my design on the papers and then placed them inside the jars. 
Meet Mrs. and Mr. Skull


3.  I used a Sharpie marker to trace my design onto the jars.  (Note:  It was difficult tracing the images onto the curved baby food jars.  It helped if  I closed one eye while tracing.)


4.  I made sure to note which parts of the design I wanted to paint and which I wanted to leave clear.  Then, I started by painting all the white bits.  It looked a bit blotchy, so I painted it over again several times. Then I ran into some unexpected problems:  the white paint covered my Sharpie marker.  (Oh crapt!)  So I had to guess where the rest of my design was.... but luckily I found that if I angled the bottle a certain way I could still see traces of Sharpie marker to guide the rest of my painting.  Once I finished painting, I retraced my design with Sharpie marker.


5.  Here they are all lit up with candles.  You can definitely see the brush strokes, but I still think they look pretty cute.   
Ooh spooky!


Happy crapting!

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