Monday, December 31, 2012

How to make heart (and other) shaped bokeh Christmas lights

Inspired by our Christmas snowmen-light sunglasses, I thought I'd try my hand at making our Christmas lights look heart shaped.  And then, once I figured out how to do that, I had to make some other shapes as well...
Heart, star, cat, and arrow shaped Christmas lights
Snowmen and anchor shaped Christmas lights
I know what you're thinking, "Get behind me foul witch.  What evil and magic trickery is this?"

Well, let me tell you- no magic or fancy photo editing software was required.  All I needed were these materials:
(1) a camera with interchangeable lens (we use a micro 4/3 SLR)
(2) black/blue construction paper (maybe other dark colors would work as well?)
(3) scissors
(4) rubber band /hairband

Now, just for the record- I'm not a fancy-shmancy photographer.  Yes, I do take a lot of photos and yes we do own a mini SLR camera.  However, I keep my camera on "auto" mode 99.9% of the time and I do basic editing using Picassa.  So if I can do this... ANYONE can do this.

So, here's what I did:
First, I peeked online and found these helpful tutorials by Catschy Crafts and Photoplusmag.  Then, I came up with my own methods.

Directions:
(1)  Take off your lens cap and place it on the construction paper.
(2)  Trace out a circle that's much larger than your lens cap.  (This circle has to be large enough to cover your lens like a cap.)
(3) Cut out the large circle.
(4) Cut out a small shape in the middle of your circle.  (If you have a craft punch, you could use that to punch out your shape.  Just make sure your shape isn't too big.)
(5) Position your circle over the lens so that the cutout shape is roughly in the middle. Attach the circle to the lens with a rubber band.  (I used my hair tie.)
(6)  Put your camera in manual focus mode and point it at the Christmas lights.  (Now it's not focusing on anything.)
(7)  Turn the focus ring to make the lights look really out of focus.
(8) Snap a photo and marvel at the different shaped Christmas lights.

(Alternative to steps 6-7:  Sometimes I also just left my camera in auto-focus mode.  Then, I placed my hand between myself and the Christmas lights and focused the camera on my hand.  After that I just removed my hand before actually snapping my final shot.)

(Alternative to steps 1-5: I got a bit lazy towards the end and didn't want to cut out and attach circles to my lens.  I found that I could still get different shaped lights if I just held up a piece of black construction paper in front of my lens and snapped photos in manual mode.)


And there you have it.  With the right camera, construction paper, scissors, and a bit of imagination, you too can easily create magical images like these:





Sunday, December 30, 2012

A few Christmas photos

Let me just start this post by saying that I had intentions to take tons and tons of photos during Christmas.  But, I didn't touch the camera once.

Surprised?  Me too.

I just enjoyed spending time with family.

I was also so happy to see Baby Chuck surrounded by people who loved him.  Seeing him laughing and smiling and giving sloppy wet kisses to his relatives?  Those were definitely my favorite Christmas memories from this year.

Now for those of you who still want to get a glimpse of our Christmas, hubby luckily snapped some shots of our yummy meal.  Here's what he captured:






Oh yeah, here's one more funny memory.  Our aunt and uncle also gave us a pair of glasses that would create snowmen shapes out of Christmas lights.  You just put on the glasses and stare into the Christmas lights.  Then, presto!  The lights magically turn into snowmen ligths.  Cool, right?   

Left:  Normal Christmas lights           Right:  Christmas lights transformed into snowmen






Wow.   What will they think of next?

I'm such a dork.  I spent at least half an hour staring  into the Christmas lights and rocking my head back and forth just to make the snowmen dance.  Ah-maaaa-zing I tell you.  Ah-maaaa-zing.

The lights also gave me an idea for a craft that I wanted to try...so stay tuned.

And now I will conclude this post with a quote from my very wise friend Alice-
"May this season be bright and lovely as we celebrate the God who sees fit to greet us as a child and to send angels and songs to us on all our dark nights."

Hope you had a wonderful relaxing, and refreshing holiday break as well.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Crapty DIY 2013 New Year's Glasses

Every year I keep meaning to get a pair of 20-whatever glasses, but I always forget.  This year, I combined my desire for glasses and crapting by making two pairs of 2013 glasses.  Hubby and I'll be wearing these as we ring in the new year.  (I tried making a tiny pair for Baby Chuck, but he ripped up my initial models.  Maybe next year?)


If you'd like to make your own pair of glasses, you can use the printable below.  I think this would be a fun activity for a party or crafty kids.  I cut the pieces out, traced them onto cereal boxes, cut the shapes out, decorated them, and then taped the pieces together.

2013 printable New Year's glasses pattern
And because Baby Chuck went to sleep early tonight, hubby and I had a bit of fun shooting some photos with the glasses.





Let me know if you try making these for yourself. :) I'd love to see photos.
Happy New Year!  See you in 2013.

DIY Birdseed ornaments


Today I'll be sharing how we created these lovely DIY Birdseed ornaments.

DIY Birdseed ornaments
Back in Michigan, hubby and I put up a small bird feeder to feed the birds during the winter.  Now that we live in the city, we don't have space to put a bird feeder up.  (Plus, even if we did figure out a way to do it we'd probably just attract pigeons or rats.  Ew and double ew.)

So, you might say that I was feeling a bit nostalgic after seeing this lovely tutorial from Saltwater Kids showing how to make birdseed ornaments.  Luckily we have several family members that live in nearby tree-filled suburbs, so I made a bunch of these as small Christmas gifts.  I don't know about you, but I could really just spend hours watching birds hopping or flying around.  Hopefully this gift will keep the kids (and adults) entertained as they enjoy nature.


If you'd like to make them yourself, let me just first make two notes:
(1)  The Saltwater Kids tutorial contains really lovely photos and clear directions.  I totally copied their recipe.  I'm a copycat.  I fully admit it.
(2)  I tried to be neat, but the birdseed got everywhere.  Be prepared to sweep and wipe up lots of tiny seeds and sticky birdseed mess.


Still want to make them?  Ok, here's how I did it:

Materials Needed to make DIY Birdseed Ornaments:

-3/4 C flour
- 1/2 C water
- 1 envelope unflavored gelatin (Knox)
- 3 T corn syrup (I used dark... but I'm not sure if that matters)
- 4 C birdseed
- muffin tins/ molds (or cookie cutters)
- nonstick cooking spray
- drinking straws/ stirrers
- wax paper
- ribbon

Directions to make DIY Birdseed Ornaments:

1.  Combine flour, water, gelatin, and corn syrup in a large bowl.  Stir until everything is combined and resembles sticky goo.

2.  Add birdseed.  Stir until birdseed is covered.

3.  Spray muffin tins / molds with cooking spray.

4.  Pack birdseed mixture into the molds.  Use a measuring cup to pack and smooth everything down.   (I had a bit of trouble with this, which resulted in rough edges.)

5.  Push straws or stirrers through the birdseed.  (Make sure to push them all the way through so that you have a hole to string the ribbon through.)

fill molds with birdseed to make ornaments

fill birdseed into silicone molds to make ornaments

6.  Let your birdseed mixture sit there for three hours.  Then, take out your straws and slide/pop out the hardened ornaments out onto wax paper.  (They easily popped out of the silicone molds, but I had to use a fork to pop them out of the muffin tins.)  Flip the ornament upside down so the bottom gets a chance to harden as well.  Let them sit out overnight.

7.  Put ribbon or string through the holes and enjoy!

Merry Christmas feathered friends!

Update-  I wanted to hang up ornaments with Baby Chuck around town, so I stored some in our apartment for about a week.  Bad idea.  When I finally remembered them, I saw that they had grown fuzzy with mold.  So, make sure you use them as soon as you make them!  Otherwise you'll end up with fuzzy black ornaments.  Ick.

DIY Birdseed ornament recipe




 

Interested in other ways to create birdseed feeders?

Create your own toilet paper roll bird feeders and ice bird feeders.

Toilet Roll Bird Feeder Craft ice bird feeder craft

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Natural History Museum

This weekend we met up with some new and old friends at the museum.
Everyone had a really nice time.


Can I just say how happy I am to have hubby around?  
Life is just more fun when we're together.

Baby Chuck meets some distant relatives

Can you believe all the ornaments are origami?  Ah-maaaa-zing.



Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas!

Hope you have a wonderful time celebrating with friends and family.  
Here are some photos and a video from our recent Toddler Time Christmas party.

 



 






PC218897.AVI from Pink Stripey Socks on Vimeo.

Monday, December 24, 2012

DIY Felt Nativity Finger Puppets with Pattern

Last night I put the finishing touches on my felt Nativity finger puppets.  
They're now hiding under our tree.  
Hopefully Baby Chuck will like them.  


To create these little guys I just traced the different pattern pieces onto felt and used fabric shears to cut them out.  Then, I used hot glue to first glue the features onto the front of the puppet and then I glued the front and back pieces of the puppet together.   I was going to put googly eyes on them, but I had a feeling that Baby Chuck would just rip those suckers right off.  Maybe I can try drawing on them with permanent marker?  Hmm....

In case you want to make your own set, I've attached my pattern down below.  If you try making them I'd love to see your results.

Happy Christmas eve!

DIY Nativity felt finger puppet pattern dfdfd

Friday, December 21, 2012

Crapty DIY potato chip bag pinata

So remember that surprise we were talking about?

Surprise!  Today our Toddler Time group is holding a Christmas party.  We're going to eat, drink, and hopefully meet Santa Claus.  Cross your fingers.

Everyone is bringing something to the party.  Baby Chuck and I are bringing a pinata.  What?  Why am I making yet another pinata?  Well, some of the moms are from Mexico and apparently it's a Mexican tradition for children to hit a pinata at Christmas.  (Side note:  I really love that there are so many different cultures represented in our toddler group.  It's neat learning about other cultures.  Added bonus-I get a chance to practice my Spanish.  Que bueno!)   

Now, a traditional pinata looks like a sphere with seven cones sticking out of it.  Here's the one I made:



Erm... I know what you're thinking.  Leslie, yours looks nothing like that.  True true, but it looks kinda like a star and there are tassels.  Does that count?  Let's just say that mine was inspired by the traditional one.  The coolest thing about this pinata is that it's a true blue CRAPT!

Materials:
- several cereal boxes <-- crap!
- LOTS of potato chip bags* <-- crap!
- tape
- glue (I used Aileen's tacky glue)
- scissors
- pens
- ribbon
- aluminum foil

(*I'm slightly embarrassed by the amount of chips we eat in two weeks.)

Directions:







Hope you have a wonderful weekend.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Make ribbon tassels


So Baby Chuck and I are working on a secret project for this Friday. What is it? Well, I couldn't tell you or then it wouldn't be a secret anymore, would it?

 Let's just say this secret involves
- a bunch of toddlers
- a big stick
- many bags of chips

 There. I've said enough. As part of the secret project, I made a couple of shiny tassels out of curling ribbon.

There are tons of tutorials out there for making tassels, but I ended up following this one at Go make me's blog.

To make ribbon tassels of your own, you'll need:
- curling ribbon
- scissors
- masking tape (optional, but I found it helpful)
- cardboard



Directions:

 1.  Cut a piece of cardboard that's the same length as the tassel that you want to create.  Cut a piece of ribbon and tape it to the top of your cardboard. (This ribbon will allow you to tie the tassel to something.)  Then, wind ribbon around your piece of cardboard as many times as you like.  (I stopped at 20 times.)

2.  Tie a loose knot with your top ribbon to keep the other strands together.  Then, snip the ribbon off your cardboard with your scissors.

3.  Tighten your knot on top.  Double knot if necessary.

4.  To keep the ribbons in a secure bunch, wrap another strand of ribbon around your strands.  Double knot and and trim the ribbons.   

Enjoy and feel festive.  

Monday, December 17, 2012

Graham Cracker Houses

Hubby and I have been still thinking about Sandy Hook.  This past weekend, we struggled with whether we should still hold our gingerbread house making party.  At first it felt kind of wrong.  Hold a party to make small houses out of crackers and candy?  Were we being too frivolous?  Was it ok to have fun while others grieved?

In the end, we still held the party.  And you know what?  I'm really glad we did.

Two gal pals came over and we spent the night eating, talking, and building.  We shared what was happening in our lives.  We listened a lot and laughed even more.

*Sigh* What happened in Connecticut was really really horrible.  But maybe this was our small way of battling the darkness.  Where one candle glows, darkness cannot win.  That night, I imagined our small apartment glowing with good friendship and love.

And doesn't the world need a little more of that right now?



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