Thursday, February 28, 2013

What's up, Chuck?

Guess who struggled with a cold, teething, and a tummy bug? 
  As you can guess, Chuck and I stayed indoors for most of the week.

Here are some photos (and a video- ooh!) of the little guy playing at home.
  





P2261691.AVI from Pink Stripey Socks on Vimeo.

Bridal Shower

I can't believe I've known these girls since college
.
Life is certainly one crazy, wonderful, beautiful, and scary adventure.  
Thank goodness we're not making the journey alone.





Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Make a Sharpie decorated plate

I never know what to get people as gifts.  Maybe you're like me?  I walk through the entire store several times.  Each time around, I find different treasures and then mentally debate the pros and cons of the item for several minutes.  Then, I inevitably change my mind and movie onto the next item. Then, after about 2 hours of mumbling to myself like a crazy lady, I finally leave empty handed, with only a grouchy hubby and fussy baby to show for my effort.

So when I was invited to a friend's bridal shower, I knew I was in trouble.  If buying gifts for the building's superintendent already caused me grief, buying a gift for a longtime friend should have sent me into cardiac arrest.

Unfortunately (or perhaps fortunately?), Chuck's been having a rotten time with teething, so this time around I just took the easy way out:  gift card.  Packaged money.  And honey, who doesn't want money?

As I walked towards the cash register that nagging voice started whispering in my ear, "Leslie.  Is this really the best gift?  You've known her for how long?  Isn't this a bit impersonal?"  I tried responding back, "Shush. Chuck's actually behaving nicely.  If we leave now I can get good parking.  And I don't need to buy wrapping paper."

But the nagging voice continued, and I finally succumbed.  But this time a crafty idea also came to me and I took a quick trip to the kitchen section and grabbed a plate.

Because after seeing the gorgeous DIY Anthropologie knock-off mug from Home Heart Craft, I had to get into the Sharpie plate decorating market.

And after a couple of hours, I came up with this lovely plate:

I really like how it turned out.  It's beautiful, personal, quirky, useful, and *fingers crossed* long-lasting.  (I didn't try washing it... so I'm hoping the marker holds.)

Want to use Sharpie markers to unleash your creativity on some unsuspecting pieces of china?  Read on!

Materials:
- Oven
- Plate (I got mine at Target)
- Sharpie markers
- Paper
- Pencil
- Scissors
- Tape
- Q-Tip

Directions:
1.  Trace your plate onto a piece of paper and cut out the resulting shape.  Now you know how big to make your design..

2.  Come up with your design.  (This was super hard.  I knew I wanted to practice my handwriting skills and include something romantic and slightly naughty.)

3.  Turn your paper over.  On the back, rub your pencil over the back of your design.  (Guess what?  You've essentially made your own carbon paper!)

4.  Tape your design to your plate.  Trace over your design with your pencil.  Lift up your paper and you'll find a faint imprint of the design underneath.  (Magical!)

5.  Use Sharpie to trace over your design.  I have shaky hands, so I did this very slowly and carefully.  Some parts of the lettering came out a big uneven, so I retraced over parts to make sure that everything looked uniformly black.  Once my Sharpie dried, I brushed off any visible pencil residue with a Q-tip.  Feeling inspired, I also free handed a design on the back.

6.  Pop your work of art into the oven and bake at 400 degrees for 45 minutes.  Then, admire your handiwork and wrap it up.

(Have you ever tried to draw on plates or mugs with Sharpies?  Did the Sharpie marker stay on even after you washed the item?  I'm hoping my design stays on.  Hubby received this lovely mug decorated with Sharpie from his students last year.... and the message they wrote washed away after several rinses.  Luckily we took a photo of the mug before everything disappeared... but it was still pretty disappointing.  *Crosses fingers*)

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Make Eggshell Mosaic Pots

Can you feel spring in the air?  

In honor of the warmer weather and my love for mosaics, today's post is all about decorating tiny pots with eggshell mosaics.

When I spotted this project in Michelle Powell's "Step-by-Step Mosaics" book I knew that I had to try it out.  I decorated one pot filled with strawberry seeds and another pot filled with daisy seeds.  (Can you tell which is which?) 

I think these little guys came out so darling and cute.  If you feel the need to brighten up your windowsill and exercise your crafty mind and green thumb, read on!  (Ooh!  I just had a clever idea- wouldn't this be a nice gift for mother's day?)

Here are the materials I used:
- Eggshells (I used 3 eggs and that made more than enough "mosaic tiles" for this project)
- Pots (I found seed and pot combo containers at Target.  Man oh man, the dollar section at Target just sucks me in every time.)
- Craft paint
- Paint brushes
- Mini muffin tin (or something else to separate your eggshells once you've painted them)
- Aleene's tacky glue
- Skewer (or a coffee stirrer)
- Small heavy object

Directions:
Step 1.  Wash and dry your eggshells.  

Step 2.  Clean the outside of your pots.

Step 3.  Paint your eggshells different colors.  (I had an idea about my design beforehand, so I just chose those colors).  Let your paint dry.

Step 4.  Smash your eggshells.  (Chuck assisted me in this step.)  You don't have to crush them completely.  Remember, you can always break the pieces smaller later... but it's kind of hard to glue on egg powder.

Step 5.  Paste on your eggshells.  I just put on a blob of glue in one spot and then started placing eggshells in the glue.  

Notes:
- I found it very helpful to use the skewer to slide my pieces around.  I tried using my finger tip at first but it ended up just sticking to the eggshellls.
- I placed a small heavy object inside of my pot to stop it from rolling while I worked on it.

Step 6.  Let your mosaic dry overnight.  Then, plant your seeds and enjoy your beautiful pots.


*Crosses fingers*  I sure hope that my seeds grow.  I'll let you know if any strawberries or daisies sprout....



(Psst- Got a hankering for other egg-related crafts?  Check out my eggshell chalkeggshell dolls, or egg carton wreath.)

Monday, February 25, 2013

Make a Mosaic Bean Pendant

Hi everyone!

How was your weekend?   We had a pretty quiet Sunday, but our Saturday was full of fun activity.  I attended a bridal shower while hubby and Toddler Chuck visited family.  (I'll post up photos from the bridal shower later on this week.) I thought I'd start off the week with this crapty (and slightly crappy?) pendant that I made.

I think mosaics are lovely.  There's something quite special (and dare I say, possibly mathematical?) about laying pieces of varying shapes and/or colors together so that they fit a space and create a desired image or pattern.

Wanting to make a wearable mosaic of my own, I used some household materials to create this mosaic bean pendant:


Yeah.  I know what you're thinking.  Girl, that's a lot of look.  And my reply? Girl, I know.  But really, what does one wear with beans anyway?

Erm.... I'm not sure if I like the result, but I did have fun making it.  And who knows?  If you ever find yourself trapped at home with a couple of bored children, then perhaps you could whip these up for fun.

Materials:
- dried beans
- cereal box cardboard <--crap!
- craft paint
- paint brushes
- Tacky glue (I used Aleene's)
- String
- Felt
- Scissors



Directions:
1. Open your bag of beans and play around with them.  Try creating different designs that you might like to make.

2.  Cut out a pendant shape from cardboard.  Paint it.  (I chose gold.)  Cut matching shapes out of felt.  (Since I had leftover paint I also ended up painting some of my beans gold as well.)

3.  Play around with your beans to create different pendant designs.  Once you have a design that you like, glue the beans down.
Notes:
- I took a photo of my pendants to help me remember my designs.  Then, I just followed the photos when laying down the beans.
- I found it easiest if I applied a thick layer of glue to a small area first and then placed a bunch of beans down.  That was much easier than putting a drop of glue on each individual bean.

- Made a mistake?  No worries.  The tacky glue dried pretty slowly.  So, I was able to slightly readjust my beans as I was putting them down


4.  Once the beans dried (I waited overnight), I taped down two strings to the back of the pendant.  Then, I glued on my felt back to cover up the cardboard.

And that's how I made these tribal-looking pendants:



Hmm... the jury's still out as to whether I like them.  On the one hand, it's pretty cool because they're made out of beans and cardboard.  On the other hand... they look like they're made of beans and cardboard... hmm....

(Psst- Interested in jewelry made out of unconventional materials?  Check out my Salt dough necklace.)

Hope you have a wonderful week!

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Making Styrofoam stamps

Hello there!

I'm on a crapting roll, so I figured I'd upload two posts today.

As you can see, I'm still working on my greeting card designs for the upcoming craft show.  Here's my newest attempt at crapting stamps:

These are the materials that I used:
- Scissors
- Craft knife
- Pencil
- Tacky glue
- Cardboard
- Styrofoam (I used one that originally held ground beef-- I know... gross when you think about it, but I promise I washed it really well)

To make these crapty beauties, I used a pencil to sketch out my designs onto the Styrofoam.  Then, I used my scissors and craft knife to cut out the different pieces.  Then, I used tacky glue to attach them to pieces of cardboard.  Once the Styrofoam was stuck on tight, I trimmed the cardboard so that it was slightly bigger than my stamp.

Instead of making a sponge ink pad, this time I used a paintbrush and painted a thin layer of craft paint onto each stamp before each use.   Here are my results:

Look!  My lettering came out the right way.  Hooray!

These stamps were fun to crapt... and I feel like I'm moving in the right direction... but I definitely have a ways to go if I want to make cards that are good enough to sell.

So currently I'm going back to the drawing board and channeling the mantra of Chuck's favorite book character:  "I think I can, I think I can, I think I can..."

Making potato stamps


Remember when I shared with you that my one word for this year was going to be  "try"?  Do you remember me saying that I would push myself to try new things... even when they seemed a bit frightening?

Well, guess what? *Gulp*  I've definitely been trying some new things out. .. and this post describes one of those things.

(You're probably wondering, "What?  Making potato stamps frightens you?  Girl, you gotta get out more...")

Oh no, no, no.  Let me back up.  A couple of months ago my aunt and I signed up to sell crafts at a craft fair.  *Gulp*  To any seasoned crafter, this would be no big deal.  You craft a bunch of stuff and then you sell it.  No biggie, right?

Ha!  It's a biggie because first you have to make a whole bunch of inventory...and second you gotta make sure your inventory is good enough to sell.

I signed up to sell greeting cards.  After reading Elisabeth Harden's kid's book on printing, I think I'm going to try stamping original designs onto my cards.  So I've been playing around with printing.   Here's my first attempt at making stamps out of potatoes:

I took a medium sized potato, cut it in half, and then carved out the design for two stamps.    My potato was super wet when I carved it, so I placed the potatoes (cut side down) on a piece of paper towel to dry them out before using them..  I made a makeshift ink pad by pouring a bit of craft paint onto a flat sponge and rubbing my finger over the sponge to help the paint soak in.  Then, I protected our dining room table by covering it with an old towel (since I didn't have any newspaper.)

All this took place while Baby Chuck napped.  When he awoke, he had a new  activity to try out.



The potatoes worked out as kid stamps... but I don't think they are good enough to decorate my cards.


Oh yeah, here are three big things I learned in the process:  (1)  Unless you're Leonardo DaVinci, you should write your word stamps backwards. No one wants to read mirror image writing.  (2)  Always put a smock on Chuck.  (Craft paint comes out in the wash, right?) (3)  I need to ditch the sponge ink pad and possibly get a craft roller... hmm...

Oh well.  That's what happens when you try new things.  Now... onto our next printing adventure!  (Hopefully I'll figure out something before the big craft show... eekers!)

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Make a bubble snake

We don't drink much soda so when hubby finally brought a Pepsi home I snatched up his empty bottle quicker than a hungry child grabbing at freshly baked Christmas cookies.

Why?  Well, I had been dying to make a bubble snake blower. And honestly, could you blame me?  Look at the long foamy chain of bubbles I was able to blow.

Wowzers.  This photo makes my inner child squeal with delight

To blow awesome foamy snake-like bubble chains, I just needed a couple of materials:

Materials:
- empty plastic bottle
- wash cloth
- scissors
- rubber band
- dish detergent
- water
- plastic container

Directions:
1.  Cut off the bottom of the bottle.
2.  Cut a circle out of the wash cloth that's about 1-2 inches larger than the bottom of the bottle.
3.  Use a rubber band to attach your washcloth circle to the bottle.  That's it!
4.  Dip the bottle (wash cloth bottom) into dish detergent that's been mixed with a bit of water.
5.  Blow.  A foamy bubble snake will appear before your eyes.

(Warning:  Do not inhale, only exhale. Otherwise you'll end up drinking dish detergent like I did. Yuck.)

Here are some photos of Baby Chuck and I playing with our bubble snake blower.  (You may be wondering why we're in the bath tub.  Or why my bathtub is so dirty.... Hmm..  Well, we fully intended to blow bubbles outside, but it was just too cold.  The bath tub served as a nice place to try the activity out, since the bubbles created quite a sticky mess on the ground.  As for why my bathtub  is so dirty... I've neglected to clean it.... eek.)




Let me know if you try this out with your kids.  I can't wait till the weather gets warmer.  We'll definitely try blowing more bubble snakes outside.

Make you own toast stampers (Three ways to write on toast)

One of my favorite things to eat is toast.  I love feeling its rough texture on the roof of my mouth.   I love the satisfying crunch that comes with each bite.  And I love pairing it with sweet jam and melted butter.

Yum. Yum. Yum.

I'd eat toast every day if I could, but since Baby Chuck is allergic to wheat, I haven't eaten real bread in a long time.  Last weekend I had a strong hankering for toast, so while Baby Chuck slept I sneakily made some for myself and hubby.

It was delicious!

But of course, I couldn't just leave it at that.  I had another "I wonder if... " moment.  This time I wondered if I could write messages or draw images on my toast.  Here are three methods that I came up with:

(Note:  I realize that cookie cutters would have worked too.... but I don't own any.... so necessity bred invention)

Method 1:  Use a chopstick


I simply took a chopstick and drew on my toast.  I made sure to press down hard enough to get a clear indentation in the bread, without ripping through it. Then, I placed the bread under the broiler. (We don't own a toaster... but I think using a toaster should work too).  Once my bread browned enough, I quickly pulled the toast out.  Voila!  Most of the bread turned darker brown while my indented image remained white.  Easie-peasie.


Method 2:  Make an aluminum foil shape







I rolled a piece of aluminum foil into a snake-like shape.  Then, I bent the foil into my desired shape (heart).  I pressed my heart down into the bread.  This time, instead of removing the heart shape and broiling the bread, I left the foil on the bread as I placed it under the broiler.  Once my bread toasted, I pulled it out of the oven and removed my foil shape.  Voila!  A much cleaner heart image emerged. The aluminum foil protected that portion of the bread from getting toasted.  (Note:  I don't recommend leaving the aluminum foil shape on your bread if you use a toaster.)

Method 3:  Crapt a cardboard toast stamper


Step 1:  Trace the shape of your bread and your desired stamp shape onto a piece of cardboard. (If the thought of your bread touching recycled cardboard grosses you out, you could always trace your bread onto a piece of paper towel first, cut that bread shape out, and then tracing that shape onto a piece of cardboard.)

Step 2:  Trace and cut out three more cardboard copies of your desired shape.  (So all in all I cut out 4 identical hearts out of cardboard.  My bread was pretty thick, so I needed my stamp to be pretty thick too.)

Step 3:  Cover one side of your bread shape with aluminum foil.   Tape together your four identical shapes and then cover them with aluminum foil too.  (If you don't mind having cardboard touch your food, you could always skip this step.)



Step 4:  Tape your stamp shape onto your bread shape.  Give yourself a pat on the back because you made a toast stamper.

To use the  stamper, match it up to your slice of bread and push down.  Make sure your shape is deeply imprinted on the bread.  Place your bread under the broiler (or in toaster) and toast away!




Let me know if you try making these toast stampers.  I'd love to see what your toast looks like.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Make glow in the dark paint (using glow sticks)

Have you ever had one of those "I wonder if..." moments?  A couple of nights ago hubby and I opened a canister of glow sticks to play around with them and take photos.

In the midst of playing, I found myself wondering if I could use their lovely glowing innards to make glow in the dark paint.  Now, the label on the glow stick canister clearly said that we shouldn't "puncture" the tubes... but it also said that the glow sticks were nontoxic.  So... I figured that as long as we didn't let the paint touch our skin, eyes, or clothes we should be ok.   Here's what my glow in the dark painting looked like:






Update 5/29/13-  Several concerned readers brought up valuable points regarding possibly dangerous chemicals and glass inside the tubes.  Be sure to read the comments below and think twice before attempting this activity...

Materials:
- Scissors
- Disposable container (to hold paint)
- Paint brush
- Paper towel
- Newspaper
- Gloves
- Corn starch

Directions:
1.  Cover your area with newspaper and wear gloves  (I didn't do this... but looking back I think it would be a good idea since you are working with chemicals.)

2.  Crack your glow stick so that the entire stick glows

3.  Open up your glow stick.  To do this, I held the glow stick vertically over my disposable container.  I cut the top bottom end of the glow stick.  The liquid inside didn't flow out very quickly.  So, I turned the glow stick upside down (so that the cut end was now on top and the uncut end was on the bottom).  Then, I cut the bottom uncut end.  (We cut it this way so that the tip wouldn't go flying in the air.  Plus, the liquid flowed much quicker if both ends were cut.)

3.  I added a bit of corn starch to the glowing liquid to thicken up the paint.

4. Use your paint to paint pieces of paper towel placed over newspapers.

Now, I'm sure you already could guess this... but sadly the images don't glow forever.  So enjoy their beauty while they last.










Oh yeah- here are some other photos of our glow stick play:



 


Friday, February 15, 2013

Valentine's Day

I hope you had a good Valentine's day.
We celebrated with a party at the library and a quiet dinner at home. 








Thursday, February 14, 2013

Chinese New Year

Happy Valentine's Day!

I know, Chinese New Year was last week and today is Valentine's Day.  But, I just wanted to post these photos because hubby, Chuck, and I celebrated the New Year with family members that we love very much.  (And isn't love what today is all about?).

Hope you have a wonderful day enjoying the company of loved ones.

(I didn't have my camera on me, so special thanks to Esther for taking these photos on her i-product.)







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