Category Archives: Crafting

Making Hearts for Grandma and Grandpa

The new year has me in constant conflict with myself. At least my organization self versus my reduce-reuse-recycle self. I was off to a great start with some long overdue organizing goals, which resulted in cleaning out our closets, storage room, office, kitchen drawers and cabinets, etc., and donating or tossing a lot of the excess items we’ve accumulated over the years.

I also found myself collecting items that should have immediately gone in the recycling bin (think: empty yogurt containers and jam jars).  I had high expectations of spending the cold winter months doing art projects with my toddler son, so I took the garbage and placed it in my newly organized cabinets instead of the recycling bin.  Fortunately, my parents were planning a trip to visit us the weekend before Valentine’s Day and this was the perfect excuse to break out the art supplies and surprise them with a Valentine made by their toddler grandson.

We got to work by gathering our supplies:

  • Non-toxic tempera paint
  • Card stock in Alister’s choice of pink, purple, and red
  • Empty toilet paper rolls*
  • Yogurt container lids*

*I am giving myself bonus points for this project since we found new uses for two garbage-worthy items.

To make the heart-shaped stamp, you take an empty toilet paper roll and flatten it into a rectangle. Then, gently release the roll and flip one of the folded sides so it is now slightly pointing inward. Boom, you have yourself a heart stamp. Make any necessary adjustments you wish until it looks like a heart.

After that, take any colors you wish to use and pour a small amount into whichever paint tray you choose. We use old yogurt container lids and they work like a charm. This is also a great opportunity to let your child mix different colors. In keeping with the Valentine theme, we used three lids – one for red, one for white, and one for Alister to explore and make his very own pink.

Red + white = pink!

Now it’s time to paint! Take your heart stamp and place it into the paint to lightly coat the heart-shaped end. Now, stamp it all over your paper until it runs low and return it to the tray to re-coat or try another color. You can also flip it to the other end for another color if you want to keep them separate.

Heart stamping fun

This craft is perfect for small children. It is easy to execute. The mess is contained. And there is a small educational element as they mix two colors of paint to make a new color.

Heart stamping fun

Hope you have as much fun as we did! Happy Valentine’s Day!

Heart stamped Valentine

 

Mystery Materials Craft Challenge – Challenge Accepted! AGAIN!

As you know, I recently participated in a Valentine-themed craft challenge, where we were given mystery materials and a theme and challenged to create something with them.  I used the opportunity to transform an old cookie sheet into a serving tray.  But since I spent the morning of the party pulling that craft together, I knew there was a chance I would show up empty-handed if I didn’t have the time.

As a reminder, the theme was Valentine’s Day and the required materials included mini cupcake liners, pink twine, craft tags, and (gasp!) cotton balls.

Required supplies

So I thought about it and decided that I could use all of the required materials, my new heart-shaped paper punch, and some paint samples to create a heart banner.

Heart punches

Once again, my little assistant, Alister, helped me punch out the hearts and then I was in business.  I glued them back-to-back and placed cotton from the cotton balls between each pair of hearts.  Then, I cut the craft tag into strips and pulled apart the pink twine to decorate the little hearts.

Heart banner

Finally, I strung it up on the mantle and our living room instantly had a sweet taste of Valentine’s Day.

Heart banner

Happy Valentine’s Day!  ❤

Mystery Materials Craft Challenge – Challenge Accepted!

After a very long vacation from blogging, I’m baaackkk.  And I have my great friend, Kelli, to thank for the inspiration.  She hosted a party with a craft challenge theme, appropriately titled the “Mystery Materials Craft Challenge.”  You can read more about it here, but you basically take the cooking competition, Chopped, and replace the mystery ingredients and top chefs with mystery craft materials and good friends.

A few weeks before the party, where we would ultimately unveil our crafts, Kelli delivered the requisite mystery materials along with the craft theme to each of us.  The supplies included cupcake liners, pink twine, craft tags, and (the trickiest of them all) cotton balls.  Ohhh, those pesky cotton balls.  The theme was Valentine’s Day, which was perfectly appropriate since the party was planned to take place one week before Valentine’s Day.  Assuming I could pull something together in time for the party, I was excited to have a festive decoration for the season when all was said and done.
Required supplies

Now what could I do with these supplies?  Not that I tried to find an inspiration online or anything.  But if I did, all a hypothetical of course, I can tell you that there is not a single craft out there (that is not a toddler craft) that incorporates all of these supplies.  I’m talking to you, cotton balls.

Well, in the absence of any obvious Valentine-y ideas, I thought back to an idea I wanted to do for some time now.  Upcycling an old cookie sheet!  This definitely seemed like something I could tackle, especially when the bulk of the work would took place the morning of the party.

First, I dug out the old cookie sheet I hadn’t used in ages.  The only thing keeping me from tossing it is the possibility that I would one day upcycle it.  Here was my chance!  I quickly scrubbed off any remaining particles that remained and wiped it off with a couple of Clorox wipes to remove any lingering grease before painting it.

Old burnt cookie sheet

Next, I gathered the other supplies I needed to transform the brown burnt stains into something a bit more pink and flowery.  The only thing I added to my craft supplies for this challenge with the heart-shaped paper punch.  I had a bunch of scrapbook paper on hand as well as the Mod Podge and Clear Gloss from previous projects.  I was excited to try out the chalkboard paint a neighbor had given me a couple of years ago that I had yet to open.  Let’s get started!

Extra supplies

After Alister helped me punch out the hearts of the scrapbook paper and I cleaned the cookie sheet, I painted two coats of chalkboard paint on each side of the cookie sheet.  It only took about 30 minutes to dry between coats, so I took care of this step during nap time.

Chalkboard paint

Using the heart-shaped cutouts, I applied them to the painted top side with Mod Podge.  I cut the cupcake liners into hearts and applied them on top.  Next, what to do with the twine, craft tag, and cotton balls?  I had grand plans to spell something out with the twine, like LOVE and shape one of the cotton balls into a heart for the “O,” but I was pulling this together the morning of the party and did not have that kind of time.

Instead, I took a few twigs, tied them together with the pink twine and attached the craft tag.  At the top of the twigs, in lieu of flowers, I applied the same heart-shaped cutouts with cotton ball pieces in between layers to create a layered effect.  Ta da!  Here’s a glimpse at the finished product.  Just a light spray of gloss on top to seal everything and I was ready for the party.

Decoupage side

Chalkboard side

That evening, we had a great time, catching up, enjoying Kelli’s delicious spread of sweet and savory goodies and Bourbon Furnaces, and sharing our crafty take on the required materials.  It was so much fun to see how everyone used the supplies.  Here’s a look at the entries displayed on the table.  But if you want to see each individual entry, you can check them out over here on Kelli’s blog.

MMCC entries

Thanks again to the lovely host for putting together such a fun event.  Here’s a look at my entry in action…  bribing serving up treats to the judges!  Cheers!

Ready to serve!

Six Fashionable Bottles of Beer on the Wall – DIY Bottle Covers

Tis the season to start thinking about holiday shopping and crafting.  Well if you are looking for something fun and semi-homemade for the man or woman in your life that is sure to bring years hours of fun and excitement, look no further.

I came across this idea when looking for original and fun ideas for Justin’s first Father’s Day this past year.  The appropriately named site, The Idea Room, provided a tutorial along with the free printable shown below to dress-up soda bottles:

All I had to do was pick up a six-pack of one of Justin’s favorite drinks – Bell’s Oberon – and print out the design from The Idea Room.  I printed out the document a few times so I had several blank shirts to design.  Then, after coloring in a couple of the shirt and tie combos, I drew the logos from Justin’s favorite sports teams on the remaining shirts.  After that, all I had to do was add a little tape to the shirt and the attachment strip, slide it over the neck of the bottle, and it was good to go.

This was the perfect project for me when juggling a seven-week-old at the time.  I need to remember this for Boss’s Day and other fun Hallmark holidays throughout the year.  After all, it would not take much to change “Happy Father’s Day” to “Happy (Any) Day.”  I am currently entertaining the idea of cutting the shirts out of Christmas scrapbook paper so they appear like ugly Christmas sweaters for fun host gifts as well.  Tis the season, indeed.

Cheers!

One Month, Two Month, Red Month, Blue Month – DIY Monthly Onesies

When I was pregnant with Alister, a friend told me about a baby shower gift her sister received that consisted of 12 onesies, one for each month of the first year.  A month or so later, I welcomed Alister into the world and as his first month came to a close, I thought back to how I loved the monthly onesie idea.

I started searching for monthly onesies to purchase online, and I stumbled across free printables allowing me to make the onesies myself.  Requiring only cutting and ironing skills, I thought I could tackle this project.  The printable allowed you to print the decals onto stickers, but I liked the look of the onesies from the blog behind the free printable, so I went ahead and purchased the following supplies to complete the iron-on onesies:

  • Iron-on printer paper – Staples
  • Color printer ink (only because it was running low on our printer) – Staples
  • 3-4 pack white onesies (NB, 3M, 6M, 9M) – Target

First, I printed the printable onto the iron-on printer paper.  The printable provided different colors as well as the mirror-image of the print to accommodate iron-on paper.  The printable is also set up to give you four months per page, so this only required three pages of iron-on paper.

Next, I cut around the circles of each image allowing a sliver of white paper to remain around the object.

Now for the ironing.  I placed a pillowcase on the ironing board and ran the hot iron over it for about 20 seconds.  Then I placed the new, clean white onesie on the pillowcase with the front side up and ran the hot iron over the onesie for about 20-30 seconds.  Finally, I grabbed the monthly circle and placed it face down on the front of the onesie, trying to place it in the chest/belly region.  I ran the iron over the paper, back and forth, for about 30-45 seconds.

When I was finished ironing, I took the hot onesie off the ironing board to expedite the cooling process.  About five to 10 minutes later, the onesie had cooled and I could peel the paper away, leaving a bright image behind.

Now it was time to dress my little buddy in his new onesie for his monthly photoshoot!  Here’s our little Zoolander at six months…

Two side notes:

(1) So far, I tend to wash the onesies before ironing on the image and Alister only wears the onesie for the photos.  That said, I do not know if the ink bleeds when you throw it into the wash after wearing it.  I’m sure there is a clever way to secure the ink so it does not bleed, but I have not tried it out myself.

(2) I had good intentions of ironing on all the months to the age-appropriate onesie at the same time.  But when his first month birthday rolled around and I found myself scrambling to pull this together that day, I changed my plans and opted to do one month at a time.  In the end, I found I liked this method as it provided flexibility if Alister was too small or too big for the estimated size.

The China Cabinet that Could

As everyone across the area prepared for Hurricane Sandy this past weekend, I had different plans.  My priority centered on taking back my house!  And by “house,” I mean, “dining room, kitchen, and living room.”

About a week ago, I started a project in the dining room that involved moving items from the dining room to the kitchen, kitchen items to the living room, and so on across the main level of our home.  The inconvenience of having our main level in such disarray this past week was the driving force to finishing this project in one week.  This “project” I keep mentioning was the transformation of our honey-colored china cabinet to a dark espresso color to match our dining room furniture as shown below.

It all started a few months ago when we decided we needed a china cabinet to display the china we received from Justin’s mother.  We initially looked at furniture stores and quickly concluded we did not want to spend a fortune on something we may replace when we eventually redo the kitchen and dining room (of course that priority is quickly falling on the list as well so we may have this china cabinet a lot longer than originally planned).

Anyway, I started looking at Craigslist to see if I could find something that would work.  After looking for a few days and regularly coming across items that either clash with the espresso-colored dining room furniture or work but cost too much, I came across a honey-colored china cabinet someone was looking to get rid of for $45!  I responded hesitantly, assuming they forgot a digit in the asking price or they already sold it.  To my surprise, I learned they had it available and they were only asking $45 for it.

Justin picked up the piece of furniture from a couple who just moved to DC only to realize their new cozy living space did not provide room for a china cabinet.  Turns out, this couple moved to DC with the Navy, and what better time to take advantage of perfectly-crafted knot skills than by attaching a massive china cabinet to the top of a car?

Justin miraculously made it home with the cabinet attached to the top, but getting the cabinet down was another story.  Justin enlisted the help of some friends to move the cabinet from the top of the car to the dining room.  All was going according to planned until someone suddenly slipped and the china cabinet came crashing down.  The middle drawer flew out and crashed onto the ground and there were a few other gashes on the base of the cabinet.  Justin reluctantly told me what happened, but to his surprise (and mine), I told him we could fix it.  I was not planning on building a new drawer or anything technical like that, but we took the face of the broken drawer and some wood glue and attached it directly to the cabinet.  We decided it was not worth scrapping the entire piece of furniture because we had one unusable drawer.

For the next few months, the china cabinet stood in our living room, and while we were pleased we had somewhere to place our china other than a moving box stored in the basement, the cabinet never quite fit the look of our dining room.  Also, it did not help that the china cabinet came with only three of the four glass shelves it required, so there were multiple factors impacting its ability to “work” with our dining room.  Then while perusing Pinterest one day, I had the light bulb moment I was waiting for.

I stumbled upon a link to the Monica Wants It blog that provided a step-by-step tutorial for transforming honey-colored cabinets with a dark espresso finish.  This was exactly what our cabinet needed, and surely it was possible to stain furniture just as easily as a bathroom cabinet, right?  After reading her tutorial along with her FAQs about the project, I was confident I could tackle this project and perform the same process on a china cabinet, or any piece of wood for that matter.

I ordered most of the recommended supplies right down to the brand-specific General Finishes JAVA gel stain from a vendor on Amazon and picked up the remaining items at Home Depot, and I was ready to begin.  First, I prepped the room by moving all existing dining room furniture away from the project area and covering the hardwood floors with a drop cloth.  Then, as requested by my skeptical husband, I placed newspaper on top of the drop cloth just to “play it safe.”  Next, we took the furniture apart and placed it on top of the newspaper-covered drop cloth and I began taking off the hardware.  I detached the doors and drawers, wiped down the wood with an all-purpose cleaner, and lightly sanded the wood.  Then, I wiped everything down again with a tack cloth to remove any remaining particles before I began the staining process.

I followed the recommended application process by applying latex gloves over my hands and then applying an old sock directly to my latex-covered right hand.  Now it was time to dig right into the gel stain!  I scooped up a small amount of stain with my sock-covered hand and started applying it directly to the furniture with a “wax on, wax off” method a la Karate Kid.  After a few coats using this technique, I decided to read the instructions on the stain can that advised applying the stain in the direction of the grain.  C’est la vie.

Here is a look at the project area just before I began.  Note the imperfections in the base of the cabinet from the great drop.

Here is a look after the first coat.  Already a major improvement, even if it appears a bit streaky.  I think I can, I think I can…

About 24 hours later, I got to work on the second coat.  Here is a look after the second coat.  Getting better!  I think I can, I think I can…

Alas!  Another day passed and I finished up the third coat.  Here is the cabinet after its final coat of stain.  I did it!

Now for the polyurethane topcoat.  My less-skeptical-and-now-very-proud-husband took a photo while I was hard at work.

I followed this coat up with another coat to seal the stain.  The product recommended two to three coats and my lack of patience got the best of me after the second coat.

After waiting about six hours in between the two polyurethane top coats, I was ready to reassemble the furniture!  In the process of placing the glass back in the front doors, one of the edges cracked, but we hope it goes unnoticed unless someone is looking for imperfections.  To be honest, if someone is inspecting the cabinet for imperfections, they can probably find them all over my craftsmanship.  But Justin and I are both happy with the finished product and we are the ones who have to live with it!  Here’s another look at the finished product!

The only remaining step involves replacing the hardware.  The cabinet currently stands without any hardware as we continue our search for something the fits the holes from the dated brass hardware yet complements the dining room.

Oh, and another good-news story to the never-ending china cabinet saga – Justin found a local hardware store that could custom-cut a glass shelf for us.  For only $10, they cut two shelves for us – one to replace the missing shelf and one as a back-up!

When we replace the hardware, I will post an update.  But for now, I have my dining room back, so my weekend was a success.  Here’s hoping Hurricane Sandy is gentle on us…

R-O-C-K in the nursery – DIY Decoupage Rocking Horse

Soon after I returned to work from maternity leave, one of my friends was getting ready to become a mother for the first time as well.  She and her husband decided to wait to find out the gender at the birth.  Exciting for them, I’m sure.  But much more difficult when looking for a gender-neutral gift other than a yellow or green onesie.

Then it hit me – what if I (gasp!) made her a gift?  Brilliant!  That’s exactly what I’ll do.  Wait a minute, what do I know how to make?  I really started to kick myself for never learning to crochet, but I was determined I would think of the perfect idea.

I had recently received a handcrafted bench for Alister from two of my best friends and I thought I could find something similar to craft for my friend.  So off to Michaels I went to find an unfinished bench or toychest I could paint and call it a day.  Well, as usual, my trip did not go exactly as planned.  Instead of finding the perfect bench or toy chest, I stumbled upon another child-friendly item.  A rocking horse!  You know what I’m talking about, the ones you breeze past when heading directly to pick up a frame at Michaels?  Yes, I suddenly became overwhelmed with the idea that every small child entering this world needed a rocking horse.  And not just any ordinary rocking horse.  A decoupaged rocking horse.

So I took the two remaining rocking horses on the shelf and began inspecting them as though they were fine gems.  In hindsight, I probably could have flipped a coin, but I opted for what I assumed would require slightly less sanding.

Now that I had my rocking horse picked out, there were only a few remaining supplies I needed to pick up (I had recently learned they were going with a safari-themed nursery in neutrals, so I had something to work with):

  • Unpainted, wooden rocking horse
  • Sandpaper
  • Acrylic paint – I played it safe with beige to complement the neutral-colored nursery
  • Mod Podge
  • Sponge brush
  • Scrapbook paper – I picked out a few yellow and green pattern pieces along with a single safari page I luckily stumbled upon
  • Scissors
  • Spray sealant – I used a non-toxic polyurethane

Now that I had my presumed supplies, I decided to research online in hopes of seeing a tutorial or at least a finished product.  As luck should have it, I stumbled upon Flip Flops All Year where she completed the exact idea for her niece.

After seeing the finished product and what appeared to be a relatively simple process, I took the horse and the sand paper and got to work.  I did not spend a lot of time sanding, just did a good once-over job, spending more time where there were obvious splinters and imperfections in the wood.

Next, I took out my sponge brush and applied two coats of the tan acrylic paint all over the horse, allowing it to dry whatever the recommended amount of time was for acrylic paint.  Who am I kidding?  Once I was done with one coat, I started the second to keep the process moving.

Here is a look after two coats of paint on the sanded, raw wood:

I decided to wait longer after applying the second coat of paint as the next step involved paper and glue.   This next step was probably my least fun part.  I did not have a very calculated process when it came to drawing and cutting out the shapes of scrapbook paper to fit the horse.  Instead, I took a piece of paper, traced the rough outline of the horse’s shape where I intended to glue it, and cut around it.  Then if it did not fit the shape when I was finished cutting, I continued making minor adjustments to the shape by eye-balling it until it was good to go.  I had a rough idea of how I wanted to lay out the scrapbook paper and coordinate the patterns across the horse, but it was really a trial-and-error approach that worked best for me.

After I cut out the pieces of scrapbook paper, I began the eagerly anticipated decoupage stage!  I know you can opt to apply Mod Podge directly to the horse and lay your paper down, but I had more success by applying Mod Podge to the backside of the scrapbook cutout and pressing it to the appropriate area on the horse.  Then I brushed a thin layer of Mod Podge over the top of each piece of paper.

If I learned anything about the decoupage rocking horse process, it is this – Less.  Is.  More.  Initially, I covered nearly every piece of the horse with different patterns and color of paper.  GAWDY!  I nearly scrapped the entire project and made an emergency run to Target to pick up the yellow or green onesies I tried to avoid in the first place.  Instead, I quickly pulled off the scrapbook paper that seemed excessive before they fully dried, sanded down the areas to remove some of the paper that already dried, and repainted the “fixed” areas.  It may not have been the world’s best cover up job, but it no longer required an immediate trip to the garbage.

Once the horse had been painted and decoupaged, I had reached the final step – time to seal the paint and paper with a topcoat to ensure years of a rockin’ good time.  Pun intended. Just a couple minutes of spraying a non-toxic polyurethane over the entire horse (outdoors!) and I had finished my last step.

The beauty of applying paper directly to your gift. No need for wrapping paper! Simply tie a bow around it.

I was pleasantly surprised with this entire process not to mention the finished product.  And when I gave it to my friend and she started to tear up, I knew it was worth the effort. Just an aside, she recently sent me a photo of her (now) two-month old daughter trying out the rocking horse for the first time.  It was definitely worth it.

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