Sunday, December 18, 2011

A Last Minute Craft for Little Ones: Gingerbread Boys

Every year I give the little guy a craft project so he can make some gifts to give to his loved ones. Last year we made Snowmen; this year we are making Gingerbread Boys(or Girls if you add eyelashes). It is an easy peasy idea. I've included a template to use as the body shape. We used left over cardboard inserts as the body since they are nice and sturdy but you could just as easily use brown construction paper if you have it on hand. As a matter of fact, every thing we used was what we had on hand. I'll give some possible substitutions.

What you'll need:
All purpose shears (we used our kitchen shears)
Construction paper (we used black, red and green glitter paper)
Large paper punch
Ric-Rac ribbon( I had some that is felt-like but any kind would do. If you have pinking shears, you could even cut out strips of plain white paper)
Small glitter pompoms (you could use construction paper punches instead)
Body template
All purpose school glue
Black Sharpie marker
Satin ribbon(for hanger)
Any other additions you'd like; crayons, glitter, markers, paint

body template
Step 1: Cut out body template and trace onto cardboard or brown construction paper (I traced it onto the back with the sharpie marker) Cut out body. Depending on your child's cutting ability and strength they may need help with this step.

 Step 2: Punch out some black and red circles. Glue in place for eyes and cheeks. Your little one can also paint or draw on the face.

Step 3: Add some buttons. We glued on glitter poms but feel free to use real buttons, punched paper, drawn or painted buttons, whatever you have available.

Step 4: Add "piping". We used our ric-rac, you could also 'pipe' on some glitter glue, dimensional paint, pinked paper strips, yarn, painted or drawn zigzags.

Step 5: Draw on smile and other features. This one has eyelashes so we consider it a girl. You could add a nose of some sort; we didn't like the ones we came up with no we skipped it. Add hair, clothing, etc. If you want to use the finished Gingerbread boy as an ornament punch a hole in the top center and run a ribbon (or yarn) through it. They are fairly large but very light weight and would look adorable hanging on the bottom half of the tree.

Hope you enjoy this little craft tutorial. I hope to add some more in the upcoming months.
From Our Family To Your Family, We Wish You a Very Merry Christmas!

Saturday, December 3, 2011

christmas elves

Finally, we are getting our decorations up. With school and the craziness, we haven't had a chance to get them up as early as I usually do but after spending the better part of the day cleaning and decking, we are finally getting somewhere. I'm really loving the kitchen this year. Since we are in a house built in the Sixties, I really am playing up the Mid Century inspired decorations and featuring some of my collectibles.(one of which I decimated when I was cleaning it to put out. I glued him back together but killed whatever value he would have had. Oh well! He's still cute)

I love when you take pictures of your home and you realize that there are certain things you should find a new home for. Case in point, my mass quantity of gallon sized Ziplocs.  I use them when I make batches of play dough. Needless to say I've been making many batches lately but I really need to find a better place to stash them during the holidays.

Haven't found my mistletoe that I hang above my kitchen window and I think I need to make ribbon tie backs again, The windows look so much cuter when the curtains are pulled back. I'll have to get a better picture of the window. It looks fabulous with the new wall color (my favorite shade of red)

Here's a picture of the little train I decimated (not the sponge holder, the cutie to the right). Can't really tell he's broken but I ripped Santa right out of the cabin! You can see the wall color, and I can see where I need to do a few touch ups.

 A little helper elf helping me hang the garland. (he really can't help too much since he's a bit vertically challenged, but he tries)Tomorrow, we get the tree that will sit in front of this window. The screen to the left will be gone. I thought I could hide my bookshelf but I'm not sure I like how it looks.

The beginning of the hutch decorations. Much cuter now since I added glittered glass ornaments, pine cones and little gold star bursts. Just need an extension cord or power strip to light it. Also, all my cutie Holt Howard Santas are all pulled out. They bring me so much joy to look at. Of course the truck won't stay there but it was a good parking place at the time.

So that's about it for now. More has been accomplished but I don't have the photos yet. (The bathroom is super cute with a silver tree and pink, blue and purple ornaments) Those and the Christmas tree I will share in a few days.

Monday, November 21, 2011

A New Look for a Retro Christmas Kitchen

I blame my decorating obsession on being a frustrated window dresser.

I have been working for a couple years to get our house decorated just right for the holiday season. I do it primarily to create memories for the little one but, let's face it, my stint as a visual merchandiser made me rather particular (read:obsessed) about decking the halls! 

It's always a long process of trial and error and, since we've moved around a bit, readjustment to different era homes and different architectural features. We currently live in a super cute early 60's ranch. It is small but I think it lends itself well to Christmas decor; Since I LOVE Mid-Century Christmas, I had to go a bit kitschy in my kitchen. This year it really seems to be coming together.  Luckily, my son has declared himself a helper elf. Every decorator can use one and, even though he's 4, he is nice to have around and actually quite helpful. Recently, we made a new wreath for our kitchen. It's not completely finished, I hope to add an elf or two, clinging desperately to a branch. But for the most part it is finished.  I chose a candy theme because one of the memories I have of my mother's decorations when I was a child was her glittered plastic candy garland that she hung on the door frame in the kitchen (that's right, I'm not that original in my theme, just sentimental)

SO here's an 'almost' tutorial. If you ever need info please ask and I can answer and amend the post. Wasn't able to take photos of the wreath in progress because, well, I was a bit obsessed about finishing it and I wouldn't pull myself away long enough to take them :o(

It all started with a 24 inch white pine style wreath.  

Then different bulbs were gathered. Most we found (pretty inexpensive) at our local craft store; the others came from Target and coordinate with other decor in the kitchen(to be shared later:O). I used all shatterproof bulbs since it is located in a high traffic area and we have a wee one in the house. My theme is candy in the kitchen so I picked focal ornaments that were giant candies in our kitchen Christmas color scheme(Lime, red and white) 

Then the little one and I placed the ornaments around the bare wreath to see how we would like to do it. We started with the placement of the focal ornaments and added the largest ornaments down to the smallest. It's easier to fit everything in this way and you can tuck the tiny ones in to fill any spaces. I then wired every ornament to the base with white wire. 

Originally, we had picked out a red velvet ribbon with glitter stars to finish it off but decided it looked pretty nice without so we're trying it out for a little while sans bow. I do reserve the right to amend this decision at any time :O)
[there is a nice little spot for it in the upper right quadrant]

All that is left for the wreath is to make an elf and hang him precariously from a branch or candy cane so he dangles in the center. Hope to make him look surprised and in desperate need of assistance.
 In the meantime, the helper elf and I will continue to decorate the kitchen and the rest of the house. 

Can't wait to share the little pass thru window treatment! It was inspired by a Home Depot commercial and I'm very happy with the look. Uber Mid Century feel! 

Well that's it for now, still have ornaments to finish painting!  Until next time, 

Have a fabulous Thanksgiving with your loved ones and, most importantly, enjoy!
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Friday, October 7, 2011

Oh! How I have neglected you.

I can't believe it has been almost 2 months since my last post. Lots of stuff happening here on the North Coast. Started classes this fall and have been inundated with trying to balance that with being creative and trying to keep the house up. Add to that, I have been taking my wee tot to preschool 3 days a week and, needless to say, I'm failing miserably on all fronts except school and the wee tot. At least I have my priorities straight(although I want to create more than take classes so it's a struggle)

But I have been creating in my random free moments. Here is a photo update of some new pieces soon to be listed in my Etsy shop.

Mini elves are all the rage this year. And their tiny size makes them ultra fun to make.

The Eskimo are so darn cute. I'm obsessed with them (they may be my new favorites:o)
My first Angel boy. The tiny size makes them so cute but the girl's hair makes it hard to see her little halo.

The autism puzzle piece wreath is back this year with some new styles. This one is inspired a bit by the Grinch. A portion of the price of these wreaths go to an Autism Charity. This year I am supporting a Cleveland center, The Monarch Center for Autism.
Paper clay cuties.

I also have a slew of started projects that I wanted to photograph but have had some problems with them since they are bright white. (Motivation for another post, sooner than the last time :o)

Hope you have been having a fabulous fall! Here's to a great Halloween!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Made in the USA or Why I Buy Vintage.

My 'new' butter dish
I won't get all political but it seems to me that lately the US corporations and politicians don't care much about what happens to our economy. That said, I realized that you can't buy a damn thing in the states that is actually made here and not imported. At least new products. I'm sure that's not completely true but, far and away, a product made in the States is the exception and not the rule. Is it any wonder why our economy is in the crapper?

So what is a girl to do?

Buy vintage of course! I don't need many things but every now and again I find I'm in need of something. Recently, I found I could really use a butter dish. It would have been so easy to hop into the car and drive up to Target or Bed Bath and Beyond but instead I perused ebay and etsy. And low and behold found a super cute butter dish from the late 60's early 70's in mint condition for (most likely) less than what I would have found at the local stores. The nicest things about it is that our money went directly to another American citizen for a well made in the USA, albeit vintage, product.

Doesn't always work, try finding a toaster, TV or computer made in the USA of US parts, but when it does it is a very good thing :o)

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Are you a Good Witch or a Bad Witch?

Halloween is quickly approaching. I've already missed my opportunity to add Halloween or fall pieces to my shop but do need to make a costume for the small boy.

My son is obsessed with the Wizard of Oz and for the past few weeks he told me he wanted to be the Tin Man. Since he is 4 and rather fickle, I ask him about every third day as I ponder a plan for how to construct his costume. Today, when I do my 'verification of Halloween costume', he informs me he wants to be the scarecrow...... alrighty then, change of plan, now I start to develop a plan for the scarecrow.

In reality, I will devise a costume for both characters and wait until I have just enough time to finish them before I even start construction. He's allowed to be fickle, he's 4 (yes, I continue to remind myself of this fact as I write), but now I realize why the past couple of years I just broke down and bought his costume. Ah, the joy of motherhood! :o)

Friday, August 19, 2011

In the Garden - A Few Firsts.

First Chrysanthemum
First ears of popcorn setting

First tomato plant to produce ripe fruit

First peppers added to homemade chili (Marconi, Serrano and Gypsy peppers)

First Yellow swallowtail captured on our butterfly bush. She visits daily. We also have a black swallowtail, monarch and hummingbird that visit daily.
Sadly, the neighborhood deer took a couple bites out of the Cherokee purple tomato that I was watching out my kitchen window so I had to wrap everything up. They also ate all the tomatoes off my container tomato plant (grrrr, they were almost ripe) and knocked off all the peppers, didn't eat them just knocked them off.

Luckily, the grape tomatoes are very prolific, I've been making a tomato salad with balsamic dressing nearly daily. YUM!

The chrysanthemum plants are looking amazing this year. They are fuller than I can believe and just loaded with buds. So excited to see them start exploding with color!

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Monday, July 25, 2011

In the Garden - July Highlights

 July is a time for all the lilies and daylilies to bloom in my garden. I just love my daylilies. Unfortunately, so do the neighborhood deer. The Liquid Fence works to a certain extent but I found that I would have to be diligent with it, needing a weekly application to keep them away. Not only do I not have the time to be that diligent, I don't have the stomach. The pungent smell leaves a little something in the back of my throat and I can only handle a monthly application. Needless to say, I resorted to my fail proof netting. 

Finally, I figured out what type of lily made it in our move a couple years ago. Remember I had a lily bulb that made the move and transplant but last year the deer ate the buds before I could see which type it was? Well, it was the 'Black Beauty' lily like I had thought. I haven't uploaded my photos yet but will share it on my next garden post.

'Christmas Carol'

'Raspberry Pixie'
'Siloam Doodlebug'

The Japanese beetles found our hollyhocks so those have been decimated. Oh well, they were pretty while they lasted. It has given my husband a new hobby (killing Japanese beetles in soapy water every night). 

the phlox are only safe behind netting

A short variety of Monarda (bee balm)

Verbascum (that my little Bug picked out)
My little vegetable garden is starting to turn out tomatoes and strawberries. The strawberries were a little delayed due to the deers eating the first batch but I covered them in netting and they are producing fruit again. The popcorn is getting tall and I hope it will be pollinated so we get some ears. The peppers have been nibbled on by the deer but I think it may have been a mistake since they nibbled the Serrano peppers and I don't think they have a taste for hot peppers. I'm monitoring the situation but there are fruit forming so I am not too concerned. The carrots look good, at least from the top, I can't wait to try one in a few weeks. My tomatoes are going wild and I am so extremely excited. 
I LOVE homegrown tomatoes. 
Nothing compares to the taste of a homegrown, vine ripened, heirloom variety tomato. Sadly, my husband doesn't like tomatoes so I will be eating many, many tomatoes over the next few weeks. I know, poor me :o)

first grape tomatoes of the year. they were my breakfast and very yummy!

Cherokee Purple tomato (can't wait!)

more grape tomatoes. this plant is loaded with them. Yum!

Our very first ripe strawberry. according to the Bug it was very tasty.
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