Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Soooooo simple

...Yet such a big bang.

I consider it a gigantic failure if I leave a yard sale and have nothing in my hands. Saturday, I didn't have to worry about that, choosing to go to just one garage sale of a friend before heading off to my other Saturday activities.

Among other things, I bought three clay pots for $3. They were a bit dirty, but for $3 it didn't really matter. Anyway, the process is pretty self explanatory. I bought a lovely can of red-high-heel red spray paint on clearance actually and went to work. I cleaned the pots first with water and a scrub pad, and even though the humidity might have been too high, I sprayed away!



I thought I wanted a matte finish, but I love love love love the high gloss look. Plus they match the red bookcase that is outside. (And yes, that would be the husband's hand in the background!).

Put a clearance sticker on it, and I'll buy it

I went to Michaels with a strict budget to buy crafty supplies for my sea shell endeavors. And then I came out with about $20 of wooden crafts to paint (I've got Christmas gifts for everyone in my spare room now!). These flower picture frames were less than a dollar each, and with paints on sale at Hobby Lobby, I spent about $5 on this project, not counting sealing spray (which is lovely, I might add).

Anyway, these are going to a cousin-in-law soon for her twin baby girls. They were a perfect afternoon project.

I wanted to add a little pizzaz to the frames without getting too gawdy, so I simply dipped the end of one of my brushes into paint and dabbed four or five times for consecutively smaller paint dots to add a little texture.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

She sells sea shells by the...

Being from the midwest, vacations, and certainly those to the beach, didn't really exist for my family. So never in my growing up time, did I ever get the opportunity to hunt for sea shells.

I made up for that fact about two weeks ago when the hubs and I took a much needed and deserved mini vacation to Wilmington and Carolina Beach. We got a fantastic deal on flights (download Southwest Airlines' clearance website Ding! to see what I'm talking about) and just took advantage of our vacation time coinciding with our 1-year anniversary.

Anyway, everywhere I looked, I found sea shells, parts of sea shells and more sea shells. And of course, all I could see was potential crafties and gifts coming out of the natural beauties (word to the wise: don't get knocked down by the waves, like I did, while pulling the really good ones out of the surf before hitting land).

I packed them up for the airplane ride home, and then let them soak in a 50-50 bleach-water solution, killing any germs or bacteria, and scrubbing them with a toothbrush. While I'm no where near done with my lovely little stock (sanding and polishing for jewelry is next), I did manage a couple of neat crafts this weekend while hanging out with my visiting parents. I didn't even use a table for any of these — strictly a floor project.

Taking advantage of a Michael's gift card and a 15%off coupon, I bought several frames, one of which was this barnwood primitive frame (sorry for the sideways photo):

Which turned into this (flash worked nicely to cover up our faces!):

Using my best and most unusual shells, I created this shadow box. Instead of using the black velour backing of the box, I bought a 59 cent piece of heavy scrapbooking cardstock which matched the colors of my living room. Then I hot glued. The hot glue gun is my best friend in most of my projects, including these. (sorry for the sideways photo)

Stay tuned for sea shell jewelry!

Sunday, June 27, 2010

March was a long time ago...

Wow. Was it really March the last time I posted? Goodness. I'm a terrible blogger.

In my defense. March wasn't a good month for me — in my line of work, March is my absolute busiest month. And this particular March, most of my job was out of town, making me actually miss the lovely wedding of my best friend Jennifer while I was in California, of all places.

Anyway, no excuse really for April, May and most of June. My husband and I celebrated our 1-year anniversary, took a beach vacation and I turned 25.

Well, and we have been busy with this:


To this, After

And this

Yes, we caught the gardening bug. We planted our garden, rather, dug out our overgrown flowerbed behind our rental duplex, and planted some vegetables on Easter weekend. We've been busy with it every day since. We've fought broccoli worms, not knowing enough about the plants' growing seasons, and one gigantic, horendous no good dirty rotten tomato horned worm.

But, eating the fruits, er, vegetables of our labor has been so much fun. We've had cherry tomatoes for about three weeks now, and just picked our first red tomatoes, though they need to ripen another day before we slice into them.

Anyway, hope our patio helps inspire you all this summer. It's dramatically changed our lives. Before it got sweltering hot, we would plan how to maximize our time outside, grilling and just sitting. We bought two bird feeders and have now become avid birders. Which also means in addition to all our above worries, you can add squirrels to the list (although, the best deterrent I've found to be, while not perfect, is coating our shepherd's crooks with petroleum jelly — quite amusing to find Mr. Squirrel sliding down the pole like a fireman!).

Saturday, March 13, 2010

DIY biodegradable Easter grass

Easter grass is one of the marvels of our society. While it's a cheery holiday decoration, it's abhorrent that the plastic strips of "grass" do nothing but cushion candy and precious eggs.

I still remember growing up and finding strands sucked up and stuck to our vacuum roller and even poking out of pet vomit and dookie. I even have a friend who lists Easter grass as one of her worst fears.

Anyway, don't buy any more of it. Ever. Instead, create your own with your household paper shredder!

Use scraps of wrapping paper, card stock or other papers and send it through the shredder. If you don't care about looks, recycle your newspaper or store ads.

Can you imagine if pipe cleaners actually cleaned pipes?

You really got to give Martha Stewart mad props — she is quite amazing.

I found these super cute pipe cleaner Easter baskets in last year's Easter issue of her Living magazine. The only cost is the $2 pastel pipe cleaner pack (100 pieces) I got at the crafts store.

To start, take four pieces of pipe cleaner and create eight spokes. You can use whole pieces for a larger basket, or halve the pieces for a smaller basket. Cut another piece to add a ninth spoke and attach by bending it into the others.

Starting from the middle, weave another pipe cleaner over and under the spokes. When you come to the end of the pipe cleaner, twist another one onto the end and keep weaving.

Once you get a sizeable base (think three or four pipe cleaner weavings), bend the spokes upward to form the sides of the basket.

When you've reached your preferred height of the sides, twist the end of the open pipe cleaner into the basket. Cut the tips of the spokes down to where about 1/4 inch remains, leaving two on opposite sides to help secure the handle. Fold the tips down, alternating on the inside and outside, to secure the top layer of basket.

Twist two more pipe cleaners together to make the handle, molding it into a handle-like curve. Using the two leftover spokes, twist the ends around the handle.

Variations: Use brown pipe cleaners to make a decorative spring nest for birds. While weaving the sides of the basket, add beads to give it some razzle dazzle.

Easy votive gift favors

I'm not exactly sure where I saw this idea, but it's fairly basic in terms of crafting ability.

And looking at these now, these votives would have made perfect favors at any wedding (I went with sparklers and personalized matches at ours).

The supplies are super easy: glass votive jars, thin-width ribbon and cupcake liners.

I found these perfect red liners on clearance after Valentine's Day at Hobby Lobby. I paid about a quarter. The ribbon was also on sale for $1. The votives I believe were $1 each.

Before tying the liner on, mold it to the top of the votive, spreading out the preformed fold for the bottom to fit your slightly larger votive mouth.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

The Strawberry Cake Fiasco

As March begins, there still hasn't been much crafty time in my life. The crafty-est I've gotten lately is making a cake for our church's birthday dinner, where we set up 12 tables, one for each month of the year, decorated them according to month, and made everyone sit at the table of their birth.


I decide my contribution is not crafty table decorations. Oh no, that would be too easy. I decide to make a cake. Which then turns into a disaster, one step at a time.

Upon planning, I realized I had never made a cake before. Not a real one anyway. I have made scads of cupcakes, a sheet cake once or twice and a Happy Birthday Husband Bundt cake (he thinks its funny to ask for a bundt cake when I ask what he might want for dinner). But I had never made a layer cake.

Yes, that would be a cake virgin.

To add insult to injury, I didn't even own cake pans. They had somehow escaped my wedding registry, so I bought two and a white cake mix and went to work.

My first goal was if it didn't taste good, at least it would look good. Which promptly went to hell (or heck to any church folks reading about my church contribution to my church function) when I brought out the perfectly baked cake from my unlevel oven.

Apparently, we are the first users of our oven at our rental duplex. Apparently, leveling your oven unit is crucial to baking. Apparently.

This doesn't quite sink in to me when I place the first layer on my cake dish and slather it with strawberry preserves — my choice filling. It does sink in once the second layer went on top and didn't quite make ends meet.

After consulting with the husband, whose grandmother is the cake-baking extraordinare and regularly ships either a sheet cake or three-layer chocolate cake eight hours with the hubs' parents on visits to us, I decide the massive gaps on the sides can just be filled with icing.

Keep in mind, none of my "cake baking" is truly from scratch. If the cake isn't from a box, I can't imagine why you would want to make it.... but anyway, my icing choice was a cream cheese frosting off the store shelf. Smart idea or not (I decide later on "not smart") I make the cake and ice it on Friday night, which is when I had the most free time since I work on Saturdays. I ice away.

Here is where the true catastrophes start in. Coming home Saturday, I find a gigantic Grand Canyon-sized crack in the top of my cake. I immediately blame the hubs, who swears he didn't even sniff at it. Apparently (great word) gravity sank onto my cake, pulling the heavy top layer down to rest on the uneven bottom layer, splitting the top. I have no pictures because I was too distraught at the time to chronicle my fate.

Another consultation with the hubs, and I decide to fill the canyon with icing.

At this point, my goal changes to if it won't look good, at least it will taste good. And this was quite an event at church...no cake meant a huge let-down. And I refused to buy a store-bought cake, more than anything fearing Wal-Mart simply wouldn't have one once I got there, and then where would I be?

Sunday morning, the day of the event, I get up early to really put the razzle dazzle into the cake using strawberry art. I sliced several strawberries into the thinnest pieces possible, separating the end pieces from the insides. Then I went to work.

Beautiful, right? At this moment, I'm obviously so proud of my maiden cake voyage that I actually carry it into the living room for an impromptu photo shoot in natural light.

By the time I get it to church, though, half the strawberries have fallen off the cake and are oozing all over the plate and the cake. My shepherding elder lady friends tell me to put it in the freezer to firm up during church.

I'd like to say that was the end of the tragedy. Almost. Everyone who ate the cake loved it and raved about it. Still, there was a little left over so I put it back into the cake transporter and went back home.

As I got it out of the car and juggled my other belongings, the contents of my arms, including the cake, fell to the ground. Cake smashed. Cake plate slightly cracked.

And no, I never got a single bite of my own first cake.

And that's my crafty February.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

A Shutterfly Butterfly

While I haven't been exceptionally "crafty" lately, I have been a pretty motivated Shutterfly-er.

With all of our wedding pictures, I wanted to create albums for myself, our moms and our grandmothers.

I opted to create hand-crafted scrapbooks with white satin covered 8X8 albums for the grandmothers, which I thought would be a lot of fun. Making five albums, 20 pages each of wedding and engagement photos was quite the job and less fun, let me tell you! But they turned out lovely, and the recipients seemed to love them.

For myself and our moms, I designed leather-bound albums on Shutterfly (we opted to purchase the jpeg images of all our photos rather than rely on purchasing prints from our photographer — see Missouri-based Avia Photography here, consisting of husband-wife team Mallory and Brian Taulbee [they're geniuses!]). Anyway, the albums were tremendously easy, and price-wise, were so frugal once you considered the cost of developing photos and other scrapbook details and doodads I could have spent actually scrapbooking.

For Christmas, I used nearly every one of Shutterfly's creative offerings. I made one set of grandparents a calendar using pictures of flowers I took in their garden during the summer. I made my mom a personalized pad of peacock stationary. I created a lovely photo book using our honeymoon photos.

One of my favorite perks about using Shutterfly are the ever-changing sales. Some weeks, photo books are buy one get one 50 percent off. Some weeks, they are 20 percent off. You can get free shipping on various purchase amounts about every week, and other items are constantly going on and off sale. Figuring out when to order my projects (which are saved indefinitely) based on which sales are going on is quite fun for me.

I'm always getting promotional e-mails, including one a month ago giving me an online code for 12 free stationary cards (I believe this is because I nearly spent a lifetime savings' worth at the company in December), so I used it towards my Valentine's cards:

Check out Shutterfly's awesome Web site (P.S., you get a free $20 gift card for Shutterfly when you register for your bridal things at Target).

Friday, January 29, 2010

I'm back!


Sorry to everyone for going AWOL for a bit. Like the rest of you, December was a busy month. My boss went on vacation, and my coworker was still out on sick leave during that time, in addition to traveling to two states for Christmas gatherings, December just flew by.

And January, well, I've just been enjoying laziness. I figured out how to use my DVR function on the cable box, therefore I have a dozen episodes of The Golden Girls awaiting me at all times. I get up, watch the Girls, and then go to work. But now, I think I've had enough of my laziness, so I'll get back around to be posting more on here.

Today is a snow day. My first since college and high school. Kentucky is expecting the Snowpocalypse 2010, so everything has been canceled and postponed and whatnot for today. (Last year, we had a catastrophic ice storm at the exact same time of the year, so everyone is in panic mode.)

Anyway, my plan was to finally get around to upholstering one of those white chairs I wrote about earlier. But, I chickened out. I bought everything I need, including wood stain for the wooden legs. When I read the directions, it said to keep away from open flame, and we have the pilot light going on our fireplace, so I'd rather not risk it. Plus, I remembered the hubs is pretty sensitive in his sinuses to the scent of finish and such, so I may wait until spring now. But here's a look at my supplies:

I bought some fake-suede at Hobby Lobby on sale to go on the back of the chair and the print I showed earlier for the seat.

While I'm blogging, I'll share a picture frame I put together before Christmas as a kids craft. I bought the wooden frame for $1 at Michaels, then glued (with Elmer's Glue!) buttons on the front. Super easy and super cute!