Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Mini Pallet Art Quote Gift

Yikes! I haven't posted anything in so long! I have 12 minutes until a new year begins so I think I will squeak in my latest project. So, I have yet to meet up with a couple of special friends to exchange our Christmas gifts. We are doing coffee tomorrow and so you have to keep this one a secret until then. Haha. I am pretty sure tomorrow when she opens her package from me, she would act surprised anyway. She is just that kind of friend. Ok, this is the result of my last minute craft rush.
It is similar to all the other pallet and subway art that I have been working on lately. I just took two planks and glued them together. Cut her favorite quote out of vinyl and set it aside. I did a base coat of the lighter color (it's blue, even though you can't tell very easily.) Then after it dried, I applied the vinyl words to the wood boards. Then I carefully painted the darker brown coat over the whole project and allowed it to dry. Then I removed the vinyl stickers and lightly sanded the whole surface. Lastly, I applied a finishing wax and buffed it to finish it off. I think it is pretty nice. I am getting better at these puppies. Much faster than the couple of days of work that the first few took, at least. Hooray for accomplishments! :)

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Custom Christmas Pallet Decoration

My craft "differently abled" friend (hahaha...) asked me if I was available to make something for her based on a photo that she shared with me. My first thought was WOW that was a big project! I decided to give it a try anyway. I am pretty happy with the results! Took me a while but I think it is a good take on the inspiration piece. Hope she finds a good spot for it. It reads "Oh come let us adore Him." I have had that song stuck in my head all day as a consequence of making this thing. Luckily I am into Christmas songs.

Anyway, I may need to schedule visitation. I am kinda in love with it and wish I had made a second one. Seems I have that feeling quite a lot these days. Sigh...

So, how I made it: I got the "o" at Joann, painted it in an off white color and did ombre style with 7 different brown paints for the boards. Then I used my Silhouette to design the words with different fonts, and cut them out of vinyl. I used the vinyl (the cheap kind,) as stencils and traced around them with a pencil. Then I removed the letters and hand painted the words with a white wash paint. Then I floated some milk chocolate paint around the edges to age it. Then I washed the whole project in diluted muddy colored paint and then wiped it off. It is 20" wide x 24.5" high and has two braces in the back to hold  it together. That's about it! Not sure I would make another one or not. I guess it would depend on how much coffee they bribe me with...

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Stocking Decorative Christmas Woodcraft

I don't know what is wrong with me! I keep meaning to put all the stuff I have been making on my blog, but life gets in the way. And that is ok since real life is more important than making sure you all admire my projects. ;-)

Anyway, I should let you know that I opened up an Etsy store!! Yay! Finally! However... it only has 3 items in it right now. Why? Well, you know. It's that life thing again. It isn't that I haven't been finishing things, I have! But I have just been giving them away or selling them for special orders. I am SERIOUSLY enjoying my life these days! I can call myself a professional crafter again. I love it!

I may just have to post pictures though instead of blogging all these words and things.
Seems weird to spend my time doing all the "business" stuff when I actually want to be creating. That is why I am handing it over to my husband now. (Finally got smart...)
So, no tutorial or anything. I created the design myself. I am selling these in my Etsy store. Aaaaaand, that's about it! Have a great week!

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Spiced Spider Cider

I have not had a whole lot of free time lately- but for good reason! This time of year starts my busy crafting days and I love every minute of it! MOPS is in full swing and I have been planning and making gifts to bring them each meeting. A recent one came to me while I was at Winco doing my weekly shopping. I came across an excellent deal on Langer's apple cider. $1.78 for a gallon! I thought that was a good place to start.

Next, I had to decide on a cute way to present my great deal on cider. What better way than jarring it up and making a cute little tag?! So that is what I did. It reads, "Along came a spider and sat down be... Cider. Empty contents of spice pack into a saucepan (should have also said, "with the cider," )and simmer for 30 minutes or more. Remove cinnamon and oranges. Enjoy! And BEWARE!" (get it??)

I decided to fill quart jars with cider and water bath
canned them, (covered the jars in boiling water in a big pot and let them simmer for 15 minutes.) Then, I created and added a fabric topper and a tag with a little plastic spider glued to it. I decided on a clever little pun that added to the "cute factor." Hadn't seen it anywhere, so I think it might be my original idea. Don't sue me if I unintentionally copied you... Haha.

It didn't quite seem finished at that point, so, I came up with a little something else. I thought I would add some simmering spices. So, I bought an orange, cut it in slices, dried it in the oven on a rack for 2 hours at 200 degree (flipping them half way through.) When they were good and dried, I added them to a little cellophane bag with a couple of cloves, a cinnamon stick, a pinch of nutmeg and allspice and 1 heaping tablespoon of brown sugar. I then attached that to the lid of the jar with some baker's twine. And voila!  I got lots of compliments on the idea, so I am assuming it went over well. I just think it is so stinking cute!!

I like Halloween, but I don't like the scary aspect of it much. This was my little way to enjoy the spook without blood, guts, and gore. Now, on to my next project...

Happy Halloween!

Monday, September 23, 2013

Custom Family Rules Subway Art

I have just been on a subway art spree lately. Got another custom order for one. This time the request was for a family rules sign. Got right to work designing. 

I used my Silhouette SD to cut out the vinyl and bought the 12 x 24" plywood board at Joann. There really isn't a different technique to explain on this one. It is the same concept as the others I have done. 

To make one, you just paint the background and then tape off the sides with painters tape after it dries. Then, paint the thin line border by applying a second row of painters tape. Next, remove the tape and paint the outer edges. Lastly, you apply the vinyl words using your transfer tape and hope that they end up straight. That part is the nail biter... 

There IS one thing that is necessary when you do one of these projects... Patience. Go slow and take your time. That is all. Not hard, just a tad tricky is all. 

I will say though, the satisfaction that you get when you are all finished is definitely worth the effort. 

Give it a shot! Much better than spending a fortune on one from Etsy!! 

Friday, September 6, 2013

Shabby Topiary and Table Decor

The topiary on the table with the other decor.
I was asked by a friend of mine to help decorate a table for a church women's gathering. I was super excited since I love to do things like that but was afraid to do it by myself. We had so much fun planning! My friend came up with the theme "burlap and lace" and told me to "run with it!" Yay!! My favorite thing to do ever!! I love to be shown or told what to use as inspiration but then given the trust to come up with my own interpretation. So... here is the inspiration I used. Found on Pinterest, of course. Super easy project and I am loving the results!

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Go Chargers! Custom Mantel Decor

I was commissioned to do some projects for my friend again. Crafty Jen to the rescue! Haha. This time it was a football theme. Her family is particular to the San Diego Chargers so she requested they be blues and golds/yellow. I got to work. I made a wreath, a "C" decoration, a customized football word/personalized subway sign, and a yarn poofball banner. Each project deserves its own blog page but I have been so busy lately, I will just show you her finished mantel and leave it at that. I am already in the planning stages of her fall mantel. Coming up next...

Sunday, August 4, 2013

MOPS Leadership Nametags

With the beginning of each school year, a new year for MOPS and MomsNext begins. For those of you not familiar with these organizations, they are groups for moms of all ages- MOPS for those who are pregnant through preschool age and MomsNext is for moms of school age kids. They are great if you are in desperate need of friends or support or just an outlet for relaxation. I have benefitted so much from joining the group and am on the leadership team. I do creative activities with a couple other ladies. We are having so much fun planning for the new year! The next theme is "A Beautiful Mess" and the Bible verse that accompanies it is Ephesians 4:10- "For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago." I am so excited!! 
Anyway, we recently had our leadership planning retreat and it was decided that we needed to stand out a little, in the sea of moms. We wanted them to know that we were available if they had a question or if we could help them in any way. Thing is, we only had generic looking plastic covered boring nametags. Those wouldn't do for me. Nope. So... I volunteered to come up with a design and to create a tag for each member of the steering committee. 23 in total. This project was so fun! I just went to Hobby Lobby, invaded their ribbon section and started my collage. I ended up using my Silhouette to cut the vinyl names and my labeler to create the position titles. I had blank bottle caps and found the jewels that I put in the center in the scrapbook section. I bought the paper, feathers, and burlap flowers there too. The chevron washi tape was something that I got online somewhere. I honestly couldn't tell you where. Maybe Pick Your Plum?? Not sure. But that stuff is everywhere these days. I cut out the oval shapes with my Big Shot machine. Then I glued all the pieces together with my hot glue gun and decoupaged the whole surface with Mod Podge. Simple as that! Not a hard craft, but definitely time consuming. It took me "some" hours to finish them all. But I think they are totally worth it. I am sure we will be easy to identify with our beautifully messy tags.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Custom Pallet Sign

I have a friend who likes to say that she isn't very crafty. But I say she has potential. She says she doesn't really have much interest in trying. But what she does have an interest in, is being generous, and supportive, and awesome. (lucky me!!) So lately, she has no problem asking me to make all kinds of stuff for her. (And I couldn't be happier!)
Thankfully Pinterest provides ample inspiration for her requests. She told me a little story behind her particular request, showed me a couple of pictures and gave me the green light to come up with something for the fence by their pool. I went in search of some pallets that would fit the bill and it took me a little while. It seemed that all the ones I was finding were spray painted on the sides or completely demolished. I just kept looking. Finally I found one near the dumpster of our local beauty school. Hopefully they didn't need it... In retrospect, I probably should have asked them before I loaded it into my car... but trash is trash, right? Let's hope so. I am sure they would appreciate the "art" that it became and they would be glad to let me have it. Right? Yeah. (Can you tell I have a guilty conscience??) Nonetheless, I made this sign with my "found" pallet.

First, I had to rip it apart. Thought it would have been easy. NOT! I mean, it was just wood and I am used to working with that particular medium. But...I was out in my driveway hacking away at this thing for what seemed like an eternity. I am pretty sure that when they put these things together, they use some impenetrable adhesive or something. Eventually I got the pieces that I needed loose from the main structure. Then I added a couple of rails to the back to keep the boards in place.

To do the design, I taped off the edges and painted the main space in an off white chalk paint. I used a sponge brush to freehand paint a wave-like row at the bottom and a bold blocky sunshine in the top right corner. Then I used my cricut to cut out cardstock and pieced the negative space together to creat a stencil. I stenciled the letters with a pencil and removed the paper. I hand painted the words and then let them dry. Next, I distressed the whole surface and edges with sandpaper. Finally I made an antiquing medium out of brown paint and water and lightly coated the project.

I really should have sprayed it with some kind of varnish or something. Of course, this was decided after I had already delivered it to its' new owner. Shucks. She said she would take care of it though, so I am hoping that it is actually ok. Now that I think about it, I should probably check in with her about that... Ok... will do. :)

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Fruity Cheesecake Chimichangas

I think we just discovered a goldmine. A fat laden, sugar filled, super yummy goldmine. My kids and I were just sitting around on this lazy summer evening and we all got a hankering for some dessert. It is a couple of days before payday so we are low in funds and food and my car is temporarily out of commission (just keeping it real,) so I had to use what I had on hand. I searched my stockpile and came up with a brick of cream cheese and some frozen peaches. Seemed like a good start for something yummy. I wasn't in the mood to turn on the oven and heat up the house or anything like that so it needed to be prepared in another way.

I remembered seeing on Pinterest, a recipe for strawberry burritos. I thought, "does it really have to be strawberries??" My answer to myself was "No, of course not!" So my brain churned and I pulled out my package of tortillas, and got to work.

I started by melting 2 T butter in a frying pan and adding 2 cups of frozen peaches, defrosted and cubed up, 1/4 cup sugar, 3 T flour, 1/2 tsp cinnamon and stirred it all up until it was bubbly and thickened. Then I set it aside to cool.

Next, I creamed my room temperature 8 oz brick of cream cheese and 1/4 cup sugar, then blended in 1 tsp. vanilla and set that bowl aside.

I spread the bottom half of each tortilla
with an even layer of the cream cheese mixture, then topped it with the cooled peach mixture.

Following that, I rolled them in typical burrito fashion and pan fried them in a small amount of oil (gotta be mindful of the calories and fat. lol.)

 Immediately following removal from the frying pan, I rolled them in a cinnamon sugar mixture and placed them on a platter to cool a bit. Then I gave them to my kids who proclaimed me a genius. (I love it when that happens.) Happy evening kid-friendly dessert surprise, that is for sure. I decided that they could be done with any fruit really. Why not apricots, or cherries or apples, or pumpkin in the fall?! Oh man, gonna be a fattening adventure. ;-)

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Wooden Disc Necklace Gift

A while back, I had made some washer jewelry with Mod Podge Dimensional Magic and scrapbook paper and a couple of embellishments. They became pretty popular both on Pinterest AND in real life with the people who received them as gifts. Got me thinking... I wonder if I could come up with something else using the same technique. I had recently picked up some wooden circle discs and discovered that they would be perfect to make some pendants with. So, as luck would have it, I needed another gift idea for my MOPS table mates to celebrate the end of our year. I made them each their own necklace with an affirming word decoupaged onto it and some little rhinestones and a scrapbooking paper flower embellishment.While I was at it, I made myself one, only I skipped the affirmation and rhinestone and added my initial and a pearl bead. Finally, I screwed in a tiny eye hook and hung it on leather cording. Works for me!

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Polka Dot Teacher Appreciation Frame

I needed a gift for my daughter's teacher. We have really been blessed to have her this  year. This is her first year at our school and I can say that she is such a great addition to the staff! You can tell she really cares about her kids. That leads to happy Moms and awesome kid learners. So, I am her room parent. End of the year means a gift. What was I to do?? We never have a lot of spare money these days but I always seem to have an abundance of craft supplies. I mean, I could have gotten her a gift card to somewhere, but, that didn't seem cheap thoughtful enough for me. So I began to peruse Pinterest and then rummage through my stash. Started with a wreath idea I saw, with pencils around a chalkboard in a sunburst pattern. I had the materials so I gave it a shot. Ended up hating it. Then I decoupaged a frame I had on hand and printed a "welcome" sign to put in the frame. I started to like what I was doing. Then I added pencils to the top of the frame to give a "princessy" crown feel. Ended up hating it again. I couldn't seem to ditch the pencil idea. Well, I polled my crafty buddies and asked them what they thought. The opinions were unanimous. LOSE THE PENCILS. Okay, I thought. I will abandon my original inspiration. Guess what... They were right! It looked so cute and I can say that I am very happy with the final result. So it will not be a hanging wreath decoration, but will be a cute frame and will rest on a handy dandy plate holder/rack from Hobby Lobby. Another year done. Thank you Mrs. Carrillo for a fabulous year!

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Pool Noodle Flip-flop Wreath

I got together with some friends this morning and we had a blast making these cute little wreaths with pool noodles from the dollar store. We all fell in love with a design we saw on Pinterest. We used the smaller noodles that are about 2 1/2" in diameter and we bent them into a circle and used packing tape to secure them. We then made some very easy and cute felt flowers. You can find the tutorial to make your own here.
We wrapped the noodle wreath form in 4 inch wide fabric strips and secured all the elements with hot glue. I ran out of time and wasn't able to finish my wreath until I got home. Just when I thought I was done, I decided I needed to add the pennant element that I had seen on another Pinterest project. So glad I did! I think this turned out to be a super cute summer wreath. My mind is spinning with possibilities for future incarnations. Yay!!

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Teacher Appreciation Pencil Decoration

I was hanging out with my husband the other day on one of our ultra glamorous dates, and we ended up at Home Depot. As we were wandering around the SUPER fun brick section (sense the sarcasm,) I saw a small little box full of what looked like potential pencils. I had seen an inspiration piece on Pinterest and thought I could totally swing my own version. What a perfect gift for Teacher Appreciation week!! I was able to finish 3 of them in about 1 1/2 hours.So, I had recently finished a project for my Mom and had some left over paper that was the same color as a pencil. Score!! I also found some paper that reminded me of an eraser, so it seemed like I was in good shape. I used my handy dandy Cricut to cut the names out of vinyl, some twine and ribbon for a hanger and some eye hooks from my craft stash. I painted the tip of the project with black paint to simulate the lead. And that is about it! I suppose I could have cut the wood with my new scroll saw, but if you find a box of 12 stakes on a glamorous Home Depot date, for $2.79? You buy them. Then you make pencils. The end. ;-)

Friday, April 26, 2013

Patriotic Banner

Here is another project I made to coordinate with the other patriotic decorations I made for a friend. Pretty straightforward craft. I just cut the banner "triangles," made some embellishments, punched holes in the corners and assembled. 

I found the papers at Hobby Lobby, in case you wanted to give it a shot. The project is hanging on navy blue organdy ribbon. That's it!

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Patriotic Chevron Decoration

This is another one of the crafts I made recently for a friend of mine. She had shown me a picture as inspiration and asked me to come up with some patriotic decorations. Not sure why, but this was a brilliant idea I had. I keep seeing chevrons everywhere and thought it would be a perfect way to represent the stripes in the flag. I think it is a super fun way to do it! I am just now kicking myself for not doing one of my own. I think it will be my next project. After all, it is my original idea!! Can't only be one of these in the world! ;-)

I made it by base coating the top of the wood board (purchased in the wood section at Joann Fabrics,) in navy blue and then base coating the bottom in red. I waited for the sections to dry, measured for the center of the board with a ruler, and then, using the width of painter's tape (about 1 1/4th inches,) I taped off the chevrons. With a light amount of paint, I painted the white chevrons with 2 coats of paint. Then when it was dry, I lightly sanded the whole surface to very gently distress it. I found the two layered wooden star at Joann Fabric store and painted the whole thing in the white color and then painted the surface of the small center star in navy. Sanded that piece lightly too. Before I attached the star, I wrapped the top blue section in red and white baker's twine, in a random fashion. Lastly, I used simple hot glue to attach the star to the board. Simple as that!

I am hoping that I will actually get motivated to make myself one. My friend just posted a picture of it decorating her mantel and it is just perfect! Very proud of this one...

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Patriotic Wreath

I wanted to share a wreath I made recently for my "benevolent benefactor," AKA, friend Kim. She showed me a picture on Pinterest of a patriotic mantel, said she loved it all and then told me to go for it. I mostly used the photo as inspiration for the feeling of the projects that I ultimately completed. I did 5 total and will be sharing them all as I find time. This wreath is the first that I completed. I made it by wrapping two kinds of ribbon around a straw wreath form. I then made a poof out of tulle, and added some rick rack to the back of a tin star ornament that I disassembled to make it more simple and usable for me. The small tag was actually part of the star ornament but the design on the other side of it didn't match, so I used my Cricut to cut out the "4th" in navy blue and mod podged it to the tag. Then I hung that from baker's twine and a ribbon bow which served to separate the two ribbon colors. That was it! Easy and fun! 

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Wooden Owl Magnets

I just had a birthday! Yes indeed. I also have a daughter and a friend who share it with me! Now, my daughter has a party planned for this coming weekend and I am busy busy doing projects for her. (More to come about that in a later post.) Turns out that I got to be celebrated too! My friends all got together to celebrate our groups early April birthdays with a potluck. SUPER fun!! I just love those ladies. So blessed to have them in my life. So we had chicken tacos, salad, fruit, beans, and yummy oreo cupcakes for dessert. Mmmmmm. (Beats the sandwich I usually have...)

Anyway, I really like to give handmade gifts to my friends, since we all like the crafty stuff. I wanted to make a little something for my friend Dana. I searched Pinterest and found the cutest owl magnets with clothespins to hold art or business cards, etc. Since I was given a new scroll saw from my Mom for my birthday, seemed like the perfect opportunity to get back into wood crafting. Discovered just how much I missed it! I am so excited!! SO... I sketched out a template and went to work. I sanded the cut out shapes, painted them, decoupaged paper pieces to the owl body and to the clothespins. I added heavy duty magnets to the back with hot glue and attached a jute twine hanging line. I figured that her name will be removed to allow for her beautiful children to display their artwork on the fridge. OR she could just take ownership of whatever metal surface she chooses... I really love the results. I want to make them for all my friends now!

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Mickey Mouse "Wash Your Hands" Sign

I was asked by a friend to make something to go in her kid's bathroom. She showed me an inspiration photo and told me that she wanted a Mickey Mouse "something" to hang on the wall over their toilet. I had never seen their bathroom before but was given the freedom to be creative. So, I just went for it. I was so excited to see a picture of the finished product hanging on the wall and the colors matched almost exactly! So relieved! She said she was happy with it and so that makes me happy too! I am once again, a "professional" crafter! Yay! How I did it: I found some cute Disney themed scrapbook paper and rickrack and ribbons and started crafting. I made rag roses into the shape of "mouse parts," and printed the cute little reminder saying on the paper and cut the printed paper strips down to size. I decoupaged them onto a 12x12 mdf board that I purchased at Joann craft store, and then added the embellishments. I ended up adding white buttons to the corners to finish it off, right before it was delivered. You'll have to take my word for it. ;-)

Monday, March 18, 2013

Spring Tissue Paper Flower Wreath

I have a friend who recently challenged me to recreate a couple of projects that she had seem on Pinterest. I am totally up for crafty challenges like that so I accepted! She said she would make a folder on Pinterest full of projects that she wished she could do but would rather pay someone else to do (meaning ME) and I am so excited!!

I am, once again, a professional crafter. LOVE it!!  This is the first of two projects that she commissioned me to do. I will post the other project soon.

So, here is the inspiration wreath and in the photo above is my finished wreath that was delivered to its' new owner. I know she liked it because she posted a picture of it hanging on her door, on Facebook, and then publicly told me so. (That is, like, the most important form of approval these days.) ;-)
I already completed my second order for a Spring tissue paper flower wreath (photo on the right) and am hoping to dig up more interest. Here is an easy to follow tutorial. Now you can be a pro too!

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

The Best Potato Ham Soup Ever

Wish I had a prettier photo. You will have to trust me!
It had been cold and wintery a little while ago and I was totally in the mood for some soup. I wanted it to be the thick and hearty stick-to-your-ribs kind too, not any runny healthy spinachy stuff. However... didn't have a recipe that fit the bill. I searched and found one that looked promising and I didn't even need to go to the store for anything, which is a miracle in itself.

I cooked up this batch of amazing soup and my family LOVED it! Ate it all. Scraped the pot with the spoon even. You have got to try this when you are in the mood. Would be a great St. Patrick's Day side dish to go along with your corned beef. In fact, maybe I should consider that too... Any time would be a good time for this soup, who am I kidding?!

Have I convinced you yet? ;-)

Potato Ham Soup

1 1/2 pounds yukon gold potatoes (I made it with russets and they worked just fine)
1 medium onion, diced
2 (smallish) carrots, peeled and diced
1-2 celery ribs, sliced and diced
At least 1 cup of ham, diced into cubes (I used 1 1/2 cups turkey ham because that is what I had)
3 cloves garlic, sliced (I used about 1 Tablespoon of jarred minced garlic)
3 Tbsp butter (ok... I used about 5)
1/4 cup flour (fudged here too. Used more like, a heaping 1/3 cup)
4 cups chicken broth (I used about 6)
2 cups plain water
1/2 cup heavy cream (I used the whole 1/2 pint. Ooops.) ;-)
salt and pepper to taste
cayenne pepper (optional- I used turmeric, about 1/4 tsp. I like the flavor it adds)
Chopped fresh chives for garnish (Didn't use these. Who the heck has fresh chives in their fridge?? Haha.)

Melt butter in a stockpot over medium heat until golden brown. Stir in carrot, celery ,onion ham and garlic. Cook and stir for 5-6 minutes, until the vegetables soften and the onions are transclucent.
Stir in the flour and cook about 3 minutes. Stir in the chicken broth, 1 cup at a time. Add water and stir to combine. Turn the heat to high and bring to a simmer. Simmer on medium-low for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Taste the soup for salt and add more if necessary. Stir in potatoes, cook for 15 minutes, until potatoes are tender. Skim fat if desired.
With a potato masher, mash the soup a few times, leaving plenty of whole chunks of potato. Season with salt and pepper to taste, add cayenne if desired and add cream. Stir to combine and heat through. Garnish with fresh chives, if desired.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Rag Rose Spring Wreath

I got together recently with my MOPS table group and we made a cute little wreath. Or at least we STARTED a cute little wreath... I came home with my handful of completed rag roses and my wreath form and tons of strips of fabric and sat at my table until I got so tired my eyes just shut themselves and I slumped over my hot glue gun. In other words... this project took A LONG TIME! But the best ones always do.

I made sure to get a good night's sleep and after I took care of my morning responsibilities, I was back at it. Finally finished my wreath late the next morning. I would say that if you are planning on making yourself a rag wreath, you plan on doing a few flowers at a time, get a good stash of them going, then sit down to assemble them on the wreath form. That would make it seem effortless!  If you are new to rag roses and need a tutorial for an easy version, you can find one here.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Crocheted Shamrock Wreath

I was recently taught how to make crocheted hearts by a friend of mine. I was hooked! (how punny... get it??) Started whipping those things out like it was nothing. While I was there, She gave us a pattern to make shamrocks too! I was so excited to get started. I made a crocheted garland with my new hearts and it looked super cute put up with my Valentine's day decor. So then I moved on to learning and conquering the shamrocks. I don't usually decorate for St. Patrick's day itself, but go straight to Easter and Spring stuff. I thought I would give the Irish holiday a turn. Starting small this year. Just a few little things on my mantel and some green flowers in my flower vase. No biggie. What I thought was still missing was something for my front door. I used a Styrofoam wreath form that I wrapped in white yarn, then criss-crossed hunter green yarn around the wreath. Next I painted a rectangular wood piece with chalkboard paint. I further embellished with some green buttons that I found in my jar o' buttons and called it good. I am liking the simplicity of it. Yes, definitely feeling the green love...

If you would like a pretty good picture tutorial of how to make the shamrocks yourself, go here. Though it is not exactly the same as the pattern I used, it looks easy enough even for beginning crocheters.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Soft and Tender Frosted Sugar Cookies

When I was growing up, it was a tradition to have rolled and cut out sugar cookies (that were frosted with homemade buttercream frosting) at Christmas and Valentine's day. I looked so forward to those things. My Grandma made them. My Aunt made them. My Mom made them. Oh man! They are like a kiss from Heaven! (Or some other flowery description.) Anyway, childhood flew by and I got married and suddenly I had the opportunity to supply myself and my new husband with our own sugar cookies. Awesome!! Ok, so, at first, though, not so awesome. I failed several times. It drove me crazy! Turns out there is a special secret that goes into them. Turns out it was a simple thing. You have to treat the dough with tender loving care. I mean, literally put love into them. Yes, that is the trick. Think happy thoughts and don't roll the dough too much. It toughens it. Just like people, they need to be treated kindly and sprinkled with extra sweetness. See, there ya go. These cookies hold the secret to a sweet life.

Soft and Tender Sugar Cookies (Jen's family recipe)
makes about 3 dozen

1 cup Crisco shortening
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 Tbsp water

1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp baking powder
1/8 tsp salt
3 cups flour (plus some extra for dusting)

Cream the sugar and shortening together, until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, mixing in between each addition. Add the water and vanilla and stir to combine. Add the salt, baking powder, and flour, slowly stir to combine. Continue to beat gently until the dough forms a ball and pulls away from the sides of the mixing bowl. Place in the refrigerator and allow to rest for at least 1 hour.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Divide dough into thirds. Lightly flour your rolling surface and roll dough with a rolling pin to about 1/4 inch even thickness. Use your favorite cookie cutters to cut your shapes out of the rolled dough. (Save your dough scraps and add them to your next 1/3 of the dough.) Place on a cookie sheet at least 2 inches apart. Bake for 8-10 minutes. Allow to sit on the pan for 1-2 minutes then remove cookies from sheet to cool on a cooling rack. When completely cooled, frost with your choice of buttercream frosting and decorate to your choosing.

Can be stored in an airtight container for up to a week. These cookies are better the next day. I kid you not. They absorb moisture and become even more like Heaven. Trust me. Save a couple for the next day. You will thank me...

Here is the buttercream recipe that I use. Pretty standard, I think.

1 cup butter, room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 cups powdered sugar (1 lb box)
6 tablespoons milk

In a mixer bowl, beat the butter until light and fluffy. Add the powdered sugar and vanilla. Combine in mixer. Drizzle in the milk while stirring, adding a little at a time until the frosting is at the desired consistency. Frost your cookies and eat them. The end.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Little Red Riding Hood Clothespin Doll

I have been eyeballing these adorable clothespin dolls on Pinterest for such a long time, stocking up on the bits and pieces but I finally couldn't take it anymore! Marched myself (and my loving husband) to the craft store and purchased the remaining supplies necessary to make some of my own! Another thing that prompted me was the fact that my daughter is having a Red Riding Hood themed birthday party in a month and a half and I needed some kind of cute little table decorations. These would be the sweetest little take away goodies for her guests! This is my first attempt, mind you but I plan to keep going. These are so easy to put together and the possibilities are limitless! I would eventually love to make some for the holidays and seasons as I get better at it. There are some tutorials out there on the internet, but I found I didn't even really need one. Once you have all the supplies you need, you are already there! Paint the parts to please you, embellish as desired, and voila! The stinking cutest little dolls ever. I will say that I wish I had sealed the project with some sort of sealer. I think that would have added to the durability of it. Well, something to fix for next time.

Kid's Class Valentine's Day Exchanges

I like to plan ahead for things if I can and so I started brainstorming and searching for ideas for little Valentine's day goodies shortly after Christmas. Found a super cute idea for a yarn project where you use regular yarn to make the cutest little "love bugs." I thought that would be a perfect idea for my daughter's class. So, I purchased the supplies and they had been sitting on my craft table since New Years.
Finally found some time so I got busy. I made 36 of my little love bugs, added heart punched antennae attached with chenille stems and then attached them with a dab of hot glue to the end of some Valentine's themed pencils. .

My daughter and I also had fun naming each one. I figured, since I was printing the tags myself anyway, might as well switch it up a little! We used names that we keep  hearing a lot lately. You know, names from popular shows like, Honey Boo Boo and all the Disney princesses... Couldn't resist! ;-)

 Then we used a scalloped circle punch to take "bites" out of the sides of the tags. (Because bugs bite things. Get it?) Haha. So, I am thinking these are the cutest bugs I have seen in a long time!

Next I moved on to my youngest son's class exchange. He ordered "nothing fancy or girly." He is 8, after all... I had found some little heart mazes at Dollar Tree. 9 to a pack!! Super cheap!! Love that. I simply printed out the saying onto sturdy Stampin'Up cardstock and then attached a Tootsie pop to the back. (Son is a MAJOR lollipop fan!) And guess what?? He approved! In fact, he loves them and declared them "perfect!" Hooray!! He made my day. I am excited for them to be handed out. Looking through their cute little Valentine's day card holders when they get home from school, is one of my favorite Valentine's day traditions. I have strawberry milk and heart shaped pancakes on the menu for breakfast  for my 4 kiddos and hubby, along with their traditional card/candy/stuffed animal gifts. Happy Valentine's Day everyone!

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Valentine's Day Decorating 2013

I had a couple of extra moments in between projects so I thought I would go ahead and decorate the house a little for Valentine's day. I mean, it had been back to normal now for a good three weeks! ;-) I ended up putting together a couple of projects this year to fill some space. I like the way that they turned out!

Now, I will be honest, sometimes I don't feel like decorating for every holiday or season. But I will tell you, when my kids and other family members mention how they love how it makes them feel to be in my house with the changing seasons/holidays, I kind of want to keep the tradition going!

 I had seen this idea on Pinterest, to add some decorative paper cut out hearts to skewers (which I just happened to have left over from another recent project,) and put them in a simple jar or vase. I just fiddled with hand drawing a heart in various sizes and cut them out then hot glued them on to the sticks. Simple as that.

This Valentine's day holiday is, shall we say... doesn't seem so lovely to me. I have been in a little bit of a funk. Life is stressful. Lots of bills to pay and not enough money to pay them. Isn't that the case with a lot of us?? But something inside of me doesn't want to disappoint.

So, off I went to scavenge as much stuff as possible from my arsenal to decorate my usual spots: the mantel, the baker's rack, and the mirror above my cookbook shelves. Best thing is that I did it without spending a dime. Just went "shopping" in my house and pulled stuff together.

I found another project to display that I had made a couple of years ago with my kids. All you do is cut a bunch of hearts out of red printed fabric and stuff them with polyfill and I taught my 3 youngest kids to whip stitch the edges closed. A great sewing skills project for them and a great way to use up scraps! Here is the original post from 2011

I also cut a heart shape out of red vinyl and added it to my decorative bowl that I display often. It just gave it a little color that I was looking for on my shelf. Next to the bowl is a couple of projects that I made last year that I just happened to find in my box of goodies. You can see my original post on them here.

I am really happy with the way it turned out and am especially happy about the cost. Hooray! I may be in love with the holiday once again. Maybe...
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