Friday, 30 December 2011

New Year, New Art Work

Happy New Year! I hope you’re all enjoying the end of 2011 and that 2012 is even better than the past year. To celebrate the new year, I decided I wanted to make some new art. The painting over my couch is fine but I made it a few years ago, it was one of my first projects, and I’m sick of it.

The painting currently above the couch

To replace it, I decided to make my own version of Painted Wall Art for Non Artists from Two Girls Being Crafty.

Things I used:
Paper (you could use a canvas but I wanted something I could frame)
Painters tape (and ruler to get it straight)
Brown paint marker
Various acrylic paints
Paint tray
Round sponge brushes (and a pencil eraser for the tiny circles)

My supplies, minus the paint tray and eraser

First I prepared my paper by making a border with tape. If I had my time back, I would have measured it to fit in a standard size frame but I didn’t think of that until it was too late.

The branches partly painted

Next I used a brown paint marker to draw my trees. This could be done with a paintbrush but my hand isn't that steady. You can add as many branches as you want and make them as messy as you like. Given my neurotic personality, I didn’t want it to be too chaotic.

My branches

After the branches were dry I started adding circles. I’d add a few, stand back and look, add a few more, and so on. I kept going until I was happy with the results.

About half way through adding dots

Finally I removed the tape. The end. I was very intimidated by this project before I started it and was pleasantly surprised by how simply it was to make and I’m really pleased with the results.

The finished product

I wasn’t going to post this until I get it back framed. It's currently at Michaels - yea for 70% off custom framing - and should be ready in a few weeks. Anyway, I posted a picture on Facebook and a friend wants to make one so I figured I might as well blog about it. I’ll post a photo of the framed piece once I’ve picked it up and hung it over the couch.

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Thursday, 29 December 2011

Fabric, Fabric and More Fabric

Isn’t it funny how changing one thing can have a domino effect? That’s what has been happening with our bedroom. You see, a lot of the furniture J and I have are pieces that came to the relationship with us. In our bedroom the bed was mine from university, the armoire was from my childhood bedroom, my nightstand is an old one from a friend, J doesn’t have a nightstand and the TV stand is from his bachelor pad. It’s kind of a hodgepodge and we’ve lived with it for a few years and it has been fine.

A few months ago, I decided I wanted a headboard. I found this plan for a handmade headboard at Deep Thoughts by Cynthia and I really liked it, especially the bright colour. I convinced J we should build one so we looked through the plans and made a trip to the Home Hardware. The next day I came home from work and found J had it almost done. Obviously I don’t have any pictures of the process. Once it was built, I painted it “Blind Date”, also from Home Hardware. Purple is my favorite colour and painting the headboard purple was a compromise for both of is – I had to agree to not paint the walls purple and J had agree to not complain about having a purple bed.

Enter the domino effect. Our bedding, which was a different shade of purple (and beige) didn’t match so I had to find a new duvet cover. I was going to make one but found one I liked for a really good price. Changing the bedding meant I needed to make some new pillows, which is where this post was intended to start. I have been looking for months for fabric that would tie the colour of the headboard with the bedding and have not been able to find anything… until yesterday.

I found a fabric store about an hour away from home that serves a large Mennonite and Hutterite clientele. It had the most beautiful fabric (although not a lot of cotton) and I went a little crazy. I’ve got some plans for the fabric. Obviously, I want to make some pillows and cover some lamps. The rest, well, I’ll just have to see what happens. Now I feel like we need new furniture that goes with the rest of the room… and maybe to paint the walls… oh, domino effect.

Monday, 26 December 2011

Lonely Socks Board

I have a lovely laundry room, minus the room part. You see, the laundry space in our house is in the unfinished basement. Even though we don’t have walls, I have set up my little laundry haven that makes me happy - well, as happy as a person can be doing laundry.

See, for not being an actual room isn’t it pretty great? It has everything I need close at hand. You can’t see it in the picture but I also have a drying rack hung from the ceiling so I don’t have to use the dryer very often. Anyway, I saw a missing sock sign on Pinterest and thought it would be a cute addition to my non-walls. The one pictured was made by Kristy at illgetyoumypretties. I probably should have looked at her instructions before making my own…

Supplies I used:
Wooden square
Spray paint
Letters – traced on plain paper using pencil from my computer
Acrylic paint marker
Acrylic paint and paint brush
Circle stencils (and an eraser for the really small ones)
Wooden clothespins
Glue gun
Screws and string

I didn’t take pictures in the beginning but I bought a square piece of wood and some spray paint. I put a couple coats of paint on the board.

Next up was the wording. Being an English teacher, I got hung up on the “missing” part. If I have the socks, they’re not missing. I know it’s bizarre but I pondered for a while and decided my socks would be lonely.

I don’t have a fancy letter cutter of any sort and didn’t want to freehand it so I traced the words from my computer onto paper. I then placed the paper over the board and traced the outline, pushing hard enough with a pencil to make an indentation.

I then traced the letters using an acrylic Sharpie paint marker. I had never used one before and was unsure about it at first but once I got the hang of it, it was super easy to use. I had to go over the letters twice to get full coverage.

Next I added a few circles using circle stencils, my green paint marker and black paint with a paintbrush.

That’s where the project stalled for a few days. I was not braving the Christmas crowds just to get clothespins. I finally got some today (the stepkids wore me down and I took them to spend their Christmas money) and decorated them using the same paint as the letters and circles. To make the circles with the black paint I simply dipped a pencil eraser in the paint. It was much easier than trying to do them freehand.

After the pins were dried, I used a glue gun to attach them to the board.

For the final step, I just put a couple screws in the back and used string to mount it. I know there are a lot of pictures in this post but I’m super proud of this project. I love how it turned out and think it looks great hanging on a non-wall in the laundry room.

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Thursday, 22 December 2011

Shortbread Cookies

To me, it doesn’t feel like Christmas without shortbread cookies. I love them and only make them once a year so they always seem like a very special treat. The recipe I use came from my grandma but I have no idea where she originally found it. I like it because it’s simple, quick, and never fails.

1 cup butter
½ cup icing sugar
½ cup corn starch
2 cups flour
Decorations – sprinkles, cherries, whatever

First I cream 1 cup butter and ½ cup icing sugar. Once that’s mixed I add ½ cup corn starch and 2 cups flour. The dough tends to be crumbly so I work it in my hands before rolling it out.

I then roll the dough out on parchment paper. You’d think, given my love of baking, that I’d own a rolling pin but I don’t so I use a glass. Next I cut out the cookies and put them on a cookie sheet.


The next step is may favourite part. I decorate the cookies using sprinkles and cherries.

I put them on a cookie sheet and bake for about 12 minutes at 350, until they are a nice golden brown.

Monday, 19 December 2011

Ridiculously Easy Boot Tray

So I have a confession - I'm a bit of a neat freak. I'm not talking wash the dishes before bed kind of neat freak, I'm talking disinfect my Christmas ornaments before packing them away sorted by colour kind of neat freak. I hate disorganization, mess and dirt! So when I saw a boot tray on Pinterest that would help keep my entryway clean, I was on it. 

First I bought a new boot tray because I wanted one that was (sort of) square. It was on sale, so that was a bonus. The picture I saw used a wooden tray of some sort but I wasn't in a building mood. I also went to the dollar store and bought five bags of decorative rocks.

My supplies and my helper dog B.
He felt the need to oversee all stages of this project.

I spread the rocks on the boot tray. Turns out I had really underestimated the amount of rocks I needed so I had to make another trip to the dollar store where I bought another seven bags.

The tray with five bags of rocks.
The tray with all the rocks on it.
B gave it his sniff of approval.

I added the rest of the rocks and I was done. Woohoo for less mess in the entryway. Now if only I could figure out how to get the dogs to stand on it while they dry off…

The boot tray in place with the first pair of boots drying.
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Saturday, 17 December 2011

More Bird Nest Necklaces

I am so excited about the bird nest necklaces I made yesterday. Seriously, I love them! The fiancĂ© took the stepkids to a movie so I decided to make one more and somehow one turned into five. I’m not sure what I’ll do with them all - probably put them away for gifts - but for now I'm finding great joy in admiring my handiwork.

*Some bird nests are now available at my etsy shop. Check out the "my etsy" page for the link.

Friday, 16 December 2011

Bird Nest Necklace

Christmas holidays are here, thank goodness. Don’t get me wrong – I love my job and have fantastic students but I believe anyone who thinks teachers get too much time off should come spend a week in a junior high classroom. To celebrate the first evening of holidays I decided to get crafty and try making a bird nest necklace (or two) based on instructions from Sarah Ortega’s blog. 
The first thing I did was gather my supplies. I actually had everything I needed so that was a bonus. I used craft wire, beads, needle nose pliers and jewelry rings.
I put beads on a long piece of wire and positioned them where I wanted them, using three beads for each necklace.

I twisted the wire to keep the beads in place and then started wrapping the wire. I found the wire hard to keep in place, so I twisted wire in between the beads (around the already circled wire) several times throughout the process.

I continued wrapping until I got the nests as thick as I wanted them. After that I twisted the wire in through the back to secure it and put a round jewelry clip in a gap in the wire on each necklace.
I really like the end result. They’re not as neat as the one from Sarah Ortega’s blog but I like the messiness. I think it makes them look more rustic. I think I might give one with the scarf I made and keep the other for myself. I can’t wait to wear it and show it off!

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*Some bird nests are now available at my etsy shop. Check out the "my etsy" page for the link.

Sunday, 11 December 2011

T-shirt Infinity Scarf

Yesterday was a busy day. I literally did all my Christmas shopping in one day. After driving an hour each way and shopping for eight hours I came home exhausted and feeling decidedly uncrafty. However while shopping I bought a t-shirt to make an infinity scarf based on instructions I found on The Busty Baker’s blog. It seemed like a quick, easy craft so I decided to give it a try.

What I used:
A t-shirt

First I laid my shirt out flat. I bought a men’s large from Walmart but you could use an old t-shirt if you have one. Because I want this for a gift for a friend, I didn’t want to use one of my old, holey, paint-stained t-shirts.

Notice the pretty quilt? My bed was covered with Christmas gifts so I made this in M’s room. The quilt was a present to her last Christmas from my mama and papa. Mama’s an amazing quilter! Maybe next time I should make a craft in D’s room so you can see his awesome quilt too. Anyway, once the shirt was laid out I cut off the bottom just above the seam and the top just below the armpits.

Then I started stretching the body of the shirt. For a while I put it around my foot and pulled but I got bored with that quite quickly. Instead, I put it around the door and left it there overnight.

When I got up this morning I took it off the door and had a perfectly stretched infinity scarf. I think it definitely turned out nice enough to gift. I also can’t wait to make another one for myself as soon as I get to the store to get another t-shirt.

The finished product, wrapped twice around my neck. Love!

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Christmas Frame Wreath

The craft bug struck again. I figure the next week and a half are going to be crazy at work so if I planned to make a seasonal craft this was the time to do it. Thanks to Pinterest I wanted to make a really unique Christmas frame wreath. I loved the picture but it didn’t link to a blog with instructions so I had to wing it. 

What I used:
Frame (without glass)
Spray paint
Thin ribbon
Thick ribbon
Craft wire
Staple gun
Self stick felt pads

The first thing I did was remove the glass from the frame. It sounds easy but the glass broke and made a giant mess. Oops. After that I spray painted the frame red using cherry red primer/spray paint. It took three coats before I finally got the finish I wanted.

The frame after one coat of spray paint

Next I arranged the ornaments to find a placement I liked. I cut green and silver ribbon, threaded the ornaments, and fastened them in place with my handy dandy staple gun. It isn’t pretty, but it works.

The ornaments being stapled in place

After that I made a big bow. This was my first time making a bow and while it looks ok, I’m not thrilled with how it turned out. I may make another one in the future and replace the current one… or maybe not. I attached the bow with craft wire at the top of the ornaments and used my handy dandy staple gun to attach a few of the pieces in place, in order to keep it where I wanted and hide a few flaws.

My attempt at a bow

I was worried about the red paint leaving marks on my wall so to finish it off I put self stick felt pads (the things that go on chair legs to protect the floor) on the back in each corner. Done!

Sunday, 4 December 2011

D and M's Ornaments

We put our tree up today. I’m normally very obsessive about organization, neatness and things matching – seriously, I have a bit of a problem. The tree is an exception. It’s full of ornaments from over the years with no rhyme, reason or theme. It’s totally tacky and I love it! While putting the ornaments on the tree, D and M (the stepkids) found some we made last year. These were easy for the kids to make with a little help and supervision (except the spray sealer, which I did myself). I think they’re beautiful!

First are the bead balls. We bought a bunch of silver ball ornaments from the dollar store and used ribbon to hang them. The kids each poured different beads in a bowl, coated their ornaments in Modge Podge, and rolled them in the beads. We hung them to dry and then coated them with spray acrylic sealer.

Next we made tissue paper balls. We used the more silver ball ornaments with ribbon. The kids ripped up scraps of tissue paper (but you could use anything), coated their ornaments in Modge Podge, and covered them with scraps of tissue paper. Once again, we hung them to dry and then coated them with spray acrylic sealer.

The puzzle snowflakes were the messiest. We took old puzzle pieces and painted them the colours they planned to make their snowflakes. Looking back, this was unnecessary. Once they were dry we covered them with Modge Podge and glitter. We let that dry and then, using one puzzle pieces as the middle, glued other puzzle pieces around the outside to make a snowflake. Next we glued on ribbon so they could hang and once the glue had dried we coated them with acrylic sealer.

Last but not least, we made bell wreaths. We simply strung bells on craft wire, tied the wire in a circle, tied a bow to hide the join, and tied ribbon on them so they can hang on the tree.

To me, theses ornaments are better than anything I could find at a store. I love them, both because they are pretty and because they have happy memories of our little family making something together.

Saturday, 3 December 2011

Scrapbooked Clipboard

I did it. I am now the proud owner of my very own scrapbooked clipboard. I first saw one of these when a coworker showed me one she had made. It looked really cute and I figured it couldn’t be too difficult. With that said, I had no idea where to start so I went looking online. I found a blog called Echoes of Laughter which had great step-by-step instructions*. Anyway, on to the project…

I used:
- clipboards
- scrapbook paper
- Modge Podge and brush
- spray acrylic sealer
- letter stickers

My supplies, minus the Modge Podge, brush and acrylic sealer

I decided to start with the back. I used Modge Podge to stick on three different scrapbook papers – one on the top, one of the bottom, and one to hide the join. I decided to be lazy and cut the paper after it was glued in place.

The back with paper attached, before cutting

Next, I worked on the front. I measured and cut the top paper to fit around the clip. This part was the most frustrating for me and when I make more, I’ll definitely make a template. I then used Modge Podge to attach the different papers to the front, just like the back. I was more particular with the front, adding a thinner boarder and a little detail in the corner.

The front, needing a little trimming around the clip before being sealed

I could have finished it by coating the whole thing in another layer of Modge Podge but I had some spray acrylic sealer in the craft box so I used that instead. I gave the back a good spray and let it dry over night (not because I’m that patient but because I ran out of sealer) and then sprayed the front this morning.
Finally, after the sealer dried, I added an “A” to the front circle. I think when I make more, I’ll add more embellishments, stickers, ribbons, whatever but for my first one, I’m very pleased with the outcome.

My finished clipboard. I can't wait to use it at work on Monday!

*I’m not sure proper blog etiquette. I want to give credit. Do I include the link? Any suggestions? Help!