Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Knife Block Re-do!

Since I've got the itch to redecorate, I started in the kitchen. Nothing major so far, but I've updated the merchandising on my counters a bit and I'm much happier with what I've got going on now. (another post on that to come!).

Once I got everything placed where I wanted it on the counters, I knew I had to do something about my knife block. It's pretty necessary - I cook every night, so it gets a lot of use. That said, it has to stay on my counters, but I'm not digging the look of it. There's nothing really wrong with it, but it could be so much better! So out came the paint.

Here is the before:

And, here is the after:

So much cuter, isn't it? It took a couple of steps to get it to this point, but it was still a quick and easy process. Here's how I did it:
1. Sand the entire block to get the old varnish off. Wipe dust off with a damp cloth. Let dry.
2. Once it's dry, paint with a base coat. I used white on mine. Let dry.
3. Once dry, paint with a crackle medium, following the instructions on the can. I used a crackle medium by Behr that I got for around $10 at the Home Depot. Let dry.
4. Paint with a top coat, following the instructions on the crackle medium can. For my top coat, I used an off white/light tan color. Let dry. (are you seeing a trend here?)
5. Apply an antiquing glaze around the edges to give it an aged look (I used American Accents Distressed Ivory Antiquing Top Coat)
6. To get the monogram I used MS Word. I printed out the letter in the size I wanted on regular paper. I then went to a window and put the paper up with the printed size against the glass. Then I used a pencil to trace the image onto the back side of the paper. I then taped the letter onto my block, printed side out and traced around it. This will create a pencil version of the letter on the block. Then, I painted in the letter with craft paint.
7. Apply clear coat to seal it.

Now, I should say that since the knifes will be used on food that you should use paint that is non-toxic. I didn't check that (though I know I should have), but I didn't paint the inside of the knife slots - just the exterior of the block. But still - check just to be safe.

I just love the finished product!

Little Blue Rocking Chair

My nephew just turned one. I think it's hard to do gifts for kiddos so little since it seems like so many of the toys are virtually the same thing (at least in my eyes). I wanted to do something other than just a toy, anyway.

My girls both have little rocking chairs and they are quite fond of them. Most of the time, anyway. They get drug out for TV watching, have blankets thrown over the top for a little makeshift fort, and are used for time-outs (this would be the time that they don't like them so much!)

Since they enjoy their chairs so much, I figured I'd make one for Dillon, too. Taylor got her chair as a gift and I made Megan's to match. (Actually, I tried to buy her one from the same store that Taylor's came from, but it was defunct, so I was forced to be crafty!). So, off to Michael's I headed. They always have these little rocking chairs in their unfinished wood section, and with a 40% off coupon it's a good deal!

I sanded it so it was smooth, and then painted it with paint from those little sample paint pods home improvement stores carry now. (You know, the little containers that let you test the color on the wall before you commit to a gallon. Those little 4 oz containers are perfect for projects like this and are only about $4!) Once the paint was dry, I sanded the edges again to give it a distressed look. A quick coat of sealer gave it a bit of a shine. The vinyl letters I cut out on my Cricut machine (oh, how I love it!).

Voila! One cute chair!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Go Fish!

Taylor's elementary school had their Spring Carnival a couple of weeks ago. It was your typical school carnival - bouncers, snow cones, pony rides and the obligatory carnival games. Some of the games were pretty lame (aren't there always a couple of lame games?), but the fishing game was a hit with my girls! We spent lots of tickets playing this game (it was easy enough for Miss Megan to win) and walked away with a handful of giant Pixie Sticks for our winning efforts.

Because the girls had so much fun fishing at the carnival, I decided to see if I could come up with my own version we could play at home. My version is pretty much like what they had at the carnival, but my fish are fabric instead of plastic. I found the super cute bucket and thought it would be perfect to store our catch in!

The best part? Except for the bucket, I already had everything I needed to make this. Woot! I love it when that happens! (Though, I'm always slightly disappointed that I don't get to fawn over all the pretty fabrics at the quilt store. I also had to raid hubby's tool chest for the "bobber". Shhh - don't tell!)

I made three fishing games in about 2 hours. My first official version of our fishing game was a birthday present for a friend of ours. The second, Turtle and Monkey get to keep. The third I've got in my store, so head on over! If you want to make your own, keep reading.

Here's what you'll need:
  • Fabric fat quarters in a couple of different colors
  • button magnets
  • wooden dowel
  • metal washer
  • eye hook
  • shell, fish and seahorse templates (I used my Cricut machine and the Paper Doll Dress Up Cartridge for my shapes)

Here's what you do:

  1. Trace around your templates on the wrong side of your fabric (so the marks don't show). You'll need 2 pieces per fish. Trace one with "side A" of the template facing up, then flip it over and trace the second piece with "side B" facing up. Cut both pieces out (I cut mine with pinking shears for added detail)
  2. Sew the pieces together, right sides out, leaving about a 1/4" seam allowance. Leave a small opening so that you can put the button magnet in. Once you've added the magnet, sew it closed.
  3. Too keep the magnet in one general area, push it up where you want it to be inside the fish, then add a seam behind it to "trap" it. (if you look at the picture above, the seam is visible on the head of the blue fish"
  4. To make the fishing pole, screw the eye hook into one end of the dowel. Tie a ribbon or string to the eye hook. On the other end of the string, tie the metal washer.

Luau Birthday Party Invitation

Summertime is almost here! (For most of you, that is. It's pretty much already here in my neck of the woods). Seems like Luau parties are pretty popular this time of year, for good reason! Taylor wanted a luau party for her birthday a couple of years ago, and this is the invitation I made for it. Want to recreate it for your own bash? It's pretty simple. Really!

You'll need:
ribbon for waistband
silk flowers
hot glue gun
rhinestones or buttons

1. On a scrap piece of paper, use a pencil to sketch out the main part of the invitation. Once you are happy with the shape and are sure it will fit in the envelopes, trace it onto the back side of your cardstock (so pencil lines won't show), and cut them out.

My invitation is approx. 5 1/4" tall, 3 1/2" wide at the top and 5 7/8" wide at the bottom.

2. Now, we're going to print on the invitations. I use MS Word. I put all the information on a blank document, using the "return" key and the "tab" key to keep the shape of the text roughly to the shape of the invitation. When I think I've got it right, I'll print it out and then hold the print out and the cut out invitation to the light to make sure it fits correctly. It usually takes a couple of tries to get it perfect. Once I'm satisfied with the text, I'll use re positional adhesive to attach the invitation to the print out and then run it through the printer.

I do this instead of printing out the text and then cutting out the invitations for a couple of reasons. One is that my invitations are often oddly shaped and it would be much more difficult to cut the invitations out after the fact if I've already got them printed. The second is that I waste less of my cardstock. I can twist and turn my invitation pattern on my paper to use as much of my expensive cardstock as I can. If my info was already printed on my cardstock, I wouldn't be able to do this. And last, because I'm not putting my cardstock through the printer as a whole sheet, I can buy 12" x 12" cardstock (which is about the same price as 8 1/2" x 11") and get more invitations per sheet.

3. Now that the invitation is printed, we're ready to decorate it! Cut pieces of raffia the same length as your invitation and attach with hot glue. (liquid glue doesn't dry fast enough, so the raffia slips and slides).

4. Cut the ribbon for the waistband. I made my ribbon long enough so that it wrapped completely around the back. You don't necessarily have to do that, but you do need to make sure that your ribbon is long enough to wrap around the back slightly (it looks more finished if you can't see raw ribbon edges on the front side). I couldn't find a wide ribbon that I liked, so I just used two rows of a smaller ribbon instead. Here are some ideas for the waistband:
  • use two rows of smaller ribbon
  • use a wider ribbon
  • use a wide ribbon and place a smaller ribbon on top

You just want to make sure the raffia gets covered. Use hot glue to attach it.

5. Attach the flowers. Mine are small silk flowers that I got from the dollar store. I pulled them off the stems and separated the petals. Craft stores usually sell paper flowers (in the scrapbook section) that would work just as well. I glued a rhinestone in the center of my flowers for a little bit of bling!

Monday, May 18, 2009

Crayon Caddy Part 2

I made a handful of these and posted about them awhile back. I quickly realized that using a tie to hold them closed was no good. Why, you ask? Because I have two little girls and only one has acquired the skill of tying bows (and this is a fairly recent accomplishment).

Since I am the designated shoe tier, I decided that I needed to revamp my crayon holders a bit.. I'm pretty happy with this new version made from a pattern I purchased on Etsy. So happy that I made seven last week! I've got to get a jump on inventory for fall craft shows and my Etsy store. Look for them in my store soon!

Cook Yourself Thin!

I have a new favorite show! It's on Lifetime and it's not your ordinary cooking show. They make yummy things to eat (like cupcakes!), they just show you how to make them with less fat and calories.

I like to cook and bake (well, most days!) so I went out and bought the cookbook. 'Cuz let's face it - my metabolism isn't like it was when I was in my 20's. Gone are the days when I could eat a McDonald's two cheeseburger meal super sized and it wouldn't super size *me*! Oh, early 20's how I miss you! I'm not a Hamburger Helper kind of gal, so making these recipes weren't a stretch for me - I'm already a from scratch cook. Lots of the baked goods require zucchini in place of butter and oil and I can grow zucchini like a champ, so I see lots of muffins in my future!

So far, I've made about 9 recipes out of the cookbook and they are all really yummy! They've got the recipes online, so go forth and cook!

Baby Gift

A childhood friend of my husband's is expecting his first child and we are so excited for them! The daddy to be is a big football guy. He played football in his (ahem) younger years and even coached high school football for a couple of years. When he found he and his wife were expecting, he was hoping for a future football player. Turns out, he's got to stock up on ribbons and bows!

When I was making their gift for the baby shower, I knew I had to figure out a way to get some football in there and still keep it girly. So, daddy to be got his own diaper wipe case and diaper clutch. Now he has no excuse to not help with diaper changes, right?

And, of course every little girl needs those girly hair bows!

I'm getting the itch to redecorate!

We've lived in this house a little over three years now. Seems like during our marriage, we moved every three years or so to a new home. This is our "forever" home, so we're not going anywhere! Problem is, it's been 3 years, so I'm ready for a change!

My husband is not overly thrilled that I'm ready to redecorate. He's good with things staying the same. I'm not! There are plenty of things in this house that I've not been satisfied with for quite awhile, so I'm going to focus there first. I went to school for a degree in Interior Design, so I know exactly what I want. Problem is getting my wallet to agree to it! But, I'm a bargain shopper at heart, so I'm up for the frugal challenge.

The first three rooms on my list (and, they are biggies!) are the Master Bedroom, the Kitchen (it's begging me for new back splashes!) and the Den.

I was going to take pictures of these rooms to post today, but then I realized that I'd better pick up a bit first. So, watch for the before pictures soon!