Saturday, January 12, 2013

Should I rename this blog or what?

It should have the word 'Pinterest' in it because I SWEAR all my ideas are totally copied or adapted from there. I'm completely addicted - in a good way...I think.  Anyway, I've kept this pin in the back of my head for a long time. A major impression, indeed. It involved using wood-grain Contact paper on things to spruce them up. (Get it? Spruce! Wood-Grain!) In particular, I had my eye on this candle: If you look closely enough at my final shots of this new project I'm writing about, you'll even see my version of THIS very candle!  Anyway, I digress.
Anyone who knows me knows I am extraordinarily picky about things that go in the house, and often I get something built up in my mind that SHOULD be easy to find but isn't. So, what's a semi-crafty girl to do? Make it herself, of course!! So when I repainted our dining room, of course that set into motion lots of other decorating changes in there that I didn't anticipate, including replacing the plates that I had hanging on the wall around the big mirror.  As an aside, the paint color change didn't actually necessitate this plate re-do, the fact that one of the plates fell off the wall and broke and isn't for sale anymore was the real culprit. But who doesn't love a good excuse to change things like that?! It should be easy to find some pretty plates to hang up in a sort-of neutral gray dining room, right? Yeah, I thought so TOO, but it isn't. I bought some at Pier 1 - these:
 I was worried they were too orange-y red, and I was right. It was going to look like Christmas all year long in the dining room if I kept them...but make your own plates? Are you crazy, girl? Well, yes, but aside from that, I was going to take a serious head start there, at Old Time Pottery with these cheap plain white plates: If you look closely enough, they were only TWO DOLLARS (insert "Better Off Dead" paperboy reference here.) So, gathering my Google image search results for the words 'bird', 'silhouette', 'clip art', and 'free', my dollar store wood-grain contact paper, and my handy-dandy xacto knife, I was off to make the plates that frankly should really exist already.

First, find your clip art. Make sure you use the word, 'silhouette' in your search so you don't have to weed out too many complicated images. You definitely want simple here. Copy them and paste them onto a Microsoft Word document, resize them so they're all the same scale, and print them out. Then I totally cheated and taped the image printout onto my contact paper and cut both layers out with my knife at the same time. It would have taken too long to cut the paper and THEN used my cutout as a template. By now I was super excited and, in addition to being picky, I'm also impatient, so I could NOT wait to see how these turned out. 
Here's how the cutouts looked before the stickin' onto the plates:

And HERE'S how they look all hanging up! (See the candle at the bottom that started all of this?) I'm really happy with the result. They turned out better than I thought they would. Of course you can't eat off them, but that's okay. And I can change them to something else when birds on a branch start looking dated to me. Yay! What do you think? Be nice, please. I'm fragile, too.


Monday, October 8, 2012

Button Trees

Again with the Pinterest inspiration!

I saw so many cute versions of button trees online, and some on Pinterest, but they all required just a little more artistic talent than I felt like I have. They were a little wispy and needed at least a bit of believability (that's a word, right?) in the realism of the branches. But inspiration comes from strange places - this time from a Crate and Barrel dishtowel I own. Weird.

It occured to me to do a sort of stylized tree, more than a realistic one. THAT, I could handle. I had a big box of buttons from my grandmother's sewing box that obviously I would never use for their intended purpose. I had access to Hobby Lobby. I had the inclination. I had my dishtowel.

With a 2 pack of canvases, a brush, an acrylic paint set, some satin archival finishing spray, and my trusty buttons, and I was ready!

Since these would be in my bedroom, I wanted a soothing sort of vibe, so I painted the background the same color as my bedroom walls. Really. It was from the same can. It's Benjamin Moore Aganthus Green, if you're interested. Then, using my dishtowel as a guide (I daren't post a shot of it because of an unfortunate ugly hole I have already burned into it.) I painted my tree trunk. When it dried, I gave it a couple of coats of my archival spray, more to get the sheen I wanted than to protect it.

After that dried, made cut a large circle in a sheet of paper and laid the holey part (not the circle cut out) onto my canvas as sort of a button placing guide/stencil. I filled up the hole in the paper, using the buttons I thought looked the best. After taking the paper off, I started gluing down my buttons. I HAD intended to sew the buttons on, but after seeing how darn many I used, that was not happening. I used S2000 adhesive. I had to open the windows. Heady stuff!

For the rectangle one, I cut out another guide/stencil but followed the same steps.

I'm really happy with how they turned out! Using my grandmother's buttons was nice, and more emotional than I anticipated. Thinking about how she was the last person to touch them, having to pull out the threads and tiny pieces of fabric still sewn to them, thinking about how people of her generation used everything they were given - I'm glad I was busy laying out buttons and halfway knackered from the S2000 fumes or I'd have been a blubbering mess!

What do you think? Be nice! I'm fairly fragile.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Super Cool Springtime Project...Inspired by Pinterest

I am *loving* Pinterest for creative ideas, since I've been sorely lacking in that department for a while.  If you are not on Pinterest yet, I highly recommend it.

Anyway, this is my 2nd Pinterest project, completely inspired by (copied from!) a pin to this blog:  She did a 3-layer tiered planter, and I did two layers, but I absolutely adored painting our house number on it!  This blogger is one inspired, creative lady!

Use her instructions - I did.  This is how it turned out.  I'm really happy about it!  Oh, I *did* use those planter "feet" thingies, and painted them instead of the saucer like she did - that's the only difference.  I thought they were cute and looked sort of like shoes!

Monday, June 27, 2011

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks

This week, I hosted my book club, Read 'Em and Eat, for dinner and a discussion of the wonderful (and eye-opening!) book, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks.  You can view the book here at

There was a seriously science-y, lab-y, medical research-y component to this book - but don't let that scare you away from reading it - so I decided to run with that for the silliness I always go through when I host my group.

I ordered a bunch of stuff from for the night.  Readers of the book will get the reference on the place markers I made out of petri dishes, glue, and something AWESOME I happened upon at Michael's: Martha Stewart Microbeads. I wrote each guest's name "HeLa style" in the petri dishes, then sprinkled the microbeads in and swooshed them around so the beads would stick in the glue.  I thought it looked neat and sort of like bacteria, which was actually desirable in this instance!!

Then, another one of my purchases turned into a centerpiece and party favor holder, commonly known as two plastic test tube racks.  I bought some Giant Test Tubes from the same place, and put hydrangeas in them, then put the party favors in more test tubes with lids.  They were all in the rack, and I labeled each test tube with the guests names as if they were specimens (it's summer, and we're bored already in our house - what can I say?!)  Here's how that turned out:

Admittedly, the centerpiece looked tons better when I had all of the favors lined up in it, but I was too frazzled getting ready for dinner to remember to take a picture of it!  The favors were beaded bookmarks that I like to make.  I picked out beads that were sort of ethereal looking so they'd look nice and cell-like in the test tubes.

The last research lab-inspired sort of thing I did was put the cream and sugar for the coffee in beakers. 

I absolutely *love* doing this sort of thing.  You can draw inspiration from all sorts of places for dinners you host or parties you throw!  I made a conscious effort not to go the gross-out route, which could have EASILY been done, but given that we had to eat dinner at this function, I decided it would be a bad idea!

Anybody know what I can do with my test tube racks, leftover petri dishes and test tubes, and beakers? 

Oh well, let me know what you think.  As usual, please be nice! 

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

End of year Teacher and Staff Gift

Okay, so it really seems that I'm using all of my creativity on school things, which is fine, because by boys don't seem to appreciate that sort of stuff so much anymore - birthday party invitations that look like a bowling shirt or a pizza in a delivery box are more embarrassing now than ahhh-inspiring!  They're getting too macho for these sorts of things.

So, my dear compatriot Jenna, whom I have mentioned before here, and I came up with this little gift for all of our teachers and staff as an end of year gift.  Jenna is quite the poet, even though she doesn't "know it" (don't judge - I had to say that) and came up with this text for our gift:

"Working with kids takes a lot of guts,
they can really drive you NUTS!
But you were always extra sweet,
so please enjoy this little TREAT.

Well now the school year is done
and you're overwhelmed with pride,
put this last gift on your car,
and take it for a ride!

We put in the gift bag a package of chocolate covered almonds (the NUTS part!), and an individually wrapped Rice Krispies Treat (the TREAT part!) and one of those rub-on vinyl decals that has our school pawprint insignia and school name on it.  We're lucky enough to have a woman in my neighborhood who has a vinyl decal business!

We got all the almonds and treats from Costco, and Jenna and I spent a couple of hours one day dividing up almonds and treats (we didn't eat too many, I promise!!) and putting them in bags and tying them up with pawprinty ribbon.  I hope the teachers liked them!  They were presented on the last day of school, so we were OUTTA there, so we didn't see their reaction!

Hey, can you tell that our school colors are burgundy and gold?  We got a little theme-crazy...

Monday, June 7, 2010

Banana Split Party!!

As you know if you've read my very first blog entry, I am on the Staff Appreciation Committee at our Elementary School's PTO.  We had a blast doing fun stuff for the teachers during Staff Appreciation Week this year (it was in May...I know I'm late in writing!).  In my opinion, the most fun activity was the Banana Split Party. 

We ordered all of the ingredients - except the bananas (more later on that!) - from our local Bruster's Ice Cream joint.  To lure the teachers and staff to our secret celebration, we put these in their mailboxes early the morning of the event.  And by "we," what I really mean is my friend Jenna did it.  Love that Jenna!  What the invitation said was,
"Don't MONKEY AROUND after school today,
or you'll miss all the friendship and fun...
Bring this banana (it's your ticket!),
have a snack and see what you've won!
Come to the Media Center at 2:15,
be there or be square.
Give the PTO the chance to show you
how much we really care!

I saw the ribbon at Michael's and I simply could not resist.  It was perfect!

The funny part is that I think the biggest hit of the day was my handy dandy banana slicer.  Everybody was fascinated by this thing, which, by the way, was seriously ridiculed when I'd put on my facebook status that I was looking for one.  Really though, how could we keep our banana split buffet running without one of these?

It was *I* who had the last laugh.  Take THAT, Facebook friends who said things like "isn't that called a knife? (insert snarky attitude here)" when I asked if anyone knew anywhere locally where I could buy one. 

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Read 'Em and Eat - March 2010

Thankfully, this time that I hosted book club, I didn't end up vomiting like the last time I hosted (an unfortunate low-blood sugar/headache/headache medicine on an empty stomach combination...).  Everything went very well, if I do say so, but I have low standards after last time!

We read The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley, and everyone seemed to enjoy the book!  Not too fluffy like some we've read, and not too complicated or boring or depressing like others (hello, I'm speaking to you, Atonement).

So, my plan for dinner was to make sort of old fashioned recipes, since the book took place in the 1950's.  I made that ubiquitous salad of butter lettuces, mandarin oranges, blue cheese, and candied almonds, and I grilled a flat-iron steak and sliced it on top.  It was deeeeelicious!  I *love* that salad!  For dessert, I made (again, the ubiquitous) Nabisco Famous Chocoate Wafer refrigerator cake.  More deliciousness.  I also had a pie with a slice missing as a reference to our book.  I intended it as sort of a decoration, but people wanted to eat it!  Who am I to keep a dear friend away from Key Lime Pie?  If you've read the book, yes, I *do* know it was a custard pie, but I wasn't going to try to bake for this.  I had to go with what was available in the freezer section!

My favorite part was our party favors:  I found the cutest black iron birds in the Smith & Hawken aisle at Target, and used them as placecards.  If you've read the book, or even looked on the cover, for that matter, you know the thing about the bird with something stuck through its beak.  I stuck a faux stamp with each member's name on it through the iron beaks.  It was cuter than it sounds, I think.  But I had to lay the birds down like they were dead like in the book.  Here's how it looked:

I was excited about it.  It's the little things, you know?  Oh well, I feel like a big goober/Martha Stewart wannabe, but I guess I should own it, right?

So next book club is at Katherine's, and we're supposed to read The Scarlet Letter.  I'm interested in seeing it through my older eyes, and in this modern context of political and sports figure adultery.  You know who you are...