Wednesday, September 29, 2010
These are the lids from the boxes Cara used for her dorm room. She has the lids hanging like this, and the matching boxes are on shelves, organizing her stuff.
The idea was that box lids were kind of shaped like canvases which totally qualifies them to become art, right? You get the look of a canvas without spending the money, plus they were lightweight enough to hang from the tack strip on the wall. That is a good thing, because as I recall from my dormitory days, it is pretty hard to hang things on cinder block walls, and regular picture frames are too heavy for the tack strip. That leaves the option of posters and sticky tack or bare cinder block walls. >>shudder<<
These are the boxes we started with...
I went with a black/ white text background. I cut each page into strips and mod podged it to the top and bottom of my box, gave the whole thing an extra coat of glossy mod podge, and let it dry.
Next I made several accordion flowers by cutting brightly colored magazine pages in half lengthwise, then folding back and forth to make the "accordion", folding the whole thing in half, and gluing the edges together.
I experimented with trimming some of the circles a bit to get different sizes. I could also visualize using tissue flowers, or using cardstock or scrapbook paper. I really like having a little texture on the boxes.
I debated a bit as to how to attach the flowers to the boxes, because I wanted them to be removable. So, I cut out small circles from a magazine cover using the bottom of a cup as my guide...
...cut out the circles and dabbed some hot glue in the center...
And secured them to the backs of my flowers.
I then just put a piece of double stick tape on the flat sides...
...arranged the flowers on the boxes, and pressed them into place. The flowers are lightweight enough that they stuck just fine, and I haven't had any flowers fall off. Best of all, they can be easily removed and put inside the box, along with anything else, for easy transportation and/ or storage.
There are several ways the boxes could be hung; my highly professional method was to string a piece of tightly stretched yarn across the back. We'll see how it holds up, but so far so good.
Can I say again that I just love the idea of functional decorations?! No need to find a box to pack up your decor in; the decor is the box! It's a great way to personalize your room. I thought about making my boxes into a statement about consumerism by using old sales receipts as the background, and pictures of material goods on top, but strangely, the need to be all philosophical seems to have left me since graduating. Ah well, I can still ponder on the metamorphosis of materials destined for the trash bin into fun and functional decor.
Monday, September 27, 2010
Pencil can: I cleaned out a canister that had bread crumbs or something in it and mod podged some pink stripey paper all the way around it. Easy button easy.
Then, for added decoration, we made over a dozen origami lilies and attached them to pipe cleaner stems. Each flower has a little message or encouragement written on its base. Here are instructions on how to fold the lilies if you are interested!
We wanted to add some more variety to the decor and storage in the dorm room, and we didn't want to spend any money, so we went hunting through my craft supplies and found a few boxes, a bunch of magazines, and some mod podge.
It seemed obvious that these things could make beautiful and functional art! We used the lids as "canvases" for wall hangings. Look for a post or two on that in the coming week. Cara made the bottoms of her two boxes match the lids, so that they could be used separately or together as decorative, matching storage containers. The great thing is that at the end of the year, she will not have to specially pack these decorative items, she can use the box and lid together to pack other things. Brilliant!
These boxes are so fun. Cara really let her personality come through on the pictures she chose for her boxes. She was very drawn to bright colors, especially pinks and yellows (like most of her room). We had to laugh as we did this project because it was so reminiscent of the Art Literacy classes we had in elementary school- but it was really fun!
I probably don't need to explain this, but we just used sponge brushes to put the mod podge on the boxes, then smoothed on the magazine pictures. We then coated the whole thing with glossy mod podge. Since these boxes were meant to be functional, Cara decided to protect them further by wrapping clear packing tape around the corners to hopefully reduce the signs of wear that will surely appear.
And there you have a free, fun, functional and attractive storage solution, which is a great way to personalize and add color to a rather utilitarian space.
Tuesday, September 21, 2010
I started out with four of these little round cardboard cheese boxes. It didn't take as long as you might think for me to eat through all the cheese in those. Haha. All the same, my husband wanted to know why I was hording "garbage" for so long. I had to assure him that it is not garbage if it can reasonably be used. And a very reasonable use I had in mind for these cute little boxes! It took a reasonable amount of time too; I was done before naptime was up yesterday. Okay, first I pulled all the labels off. Top, bottom, and side labels.
Then I stacked them and hot glued them one on top of the other.
I took the bottom piece off, laid it upside down next to the big piece and spray painted the whole thing black.
During the 20 minutes or so that the boxes were drying outside, I cut out 5 circles from contrasting papers, using one of the labels as a guide. I also found some pink and yellow ribbon from my stash to be used a little later...
Then I glued a little piece of the yellow grosgrain ribbon to the top piece of my now dry boxes to be a handle.
One of my paper circles did a lovely job covering up the place I glued the ribbon on. The other circles were glued inside each little compartment.
I covered up the ugly texture of the sides with 8 thin pink satin ribbons, also hot glued on.
Here a few of the inside compartments are peeking out. You don't have to add the paper inside, but it adds a nice little touch. And the whole thing will match its yellow and pink dorm room nicely.
I decided to add a little ribbon and bow to the side to help keep the whole thing together a little better. Cute, huh?
Use this little organizer for earrings, other jewelery, paper clips, office supplies, crafting or scrap booking supplies, sewing notions, etc.
Start to finish: less than an hour, including drying time. Now that is satisfying. Like cheese.
Tuesday, September 14, 2010
We love the baby gate we found; it is technically a play yard- a free standing, metal gate that doesn't need any mounting (although it came with optional mounting hardware), and has hinges that allow you to configure it however you need it. We have used it in several places in our home, and it is currently separated into two sections, serving different purposes. My son cannot work the mechanism to open the gate (neither can a few adults I know) and it is heavy enough that he cannot move it.
When the time came for us to replace a few different items of furniture, we kept our kids in mind. We opted for a microfiber couch with a scotch guard treatment to make cleaning up spills easier. We also chose a TV stand that had locking glass doors. The remotes for the DVD player etc. can send their signal through the glass, but all the electronic equipment is completely out of reach of my amazingly technosavvy toddler.
2. We picked up several cupboard locks for cupboards that held things like glass or dish soap, or just heavy things that might bruise little toes if pulled out.
4. The kitchen garbage now has a fastener that keeps it closed unless you squeeze the buttons on the sides. This is kind of a pain, so I don't keep it locked all the time, but it is nice to have the option, especially when my son starts poking around in that direction. Blech.
5. After making so many areas of the kitchen off limits, I decided I needed to provide my son with a few areas that were accessible and not against the rules for him to play with. I left a cupboard/ drawer or two unlocked for him to explore a bit (containing safe things to touch) and moved all his plastic dishes, sippy cups, etc. to a bottom drawer where he can easily get to. It's true, he does occasionally pull everything out of the drawer and spread it out on the floor, but I much prefer that to getting into dangerous or breakable things. And then it provides a good opportunity to teach him about cleaning up after himself, which he enjoys when we do it together. I think having his own drawer keeps him from getting too upset that he can't get into other cupboards and drawers.
I haven't had to do this yet, but I have a couple extra latches like the one I have on the kitchen garbage, which can also be used as toilet locks. What do you think the chances are that a 2 year old boy will decide he isn't interested in playing in the toilet water? I can hope.
The rooms I want to stay closed have doorknob covers, effectively keeping them off limits, while the rooms I want to stay open and accessible have this door mouse which keeps the door from shutting completely. This is really helpful when you have babies that can shut the door on themselves but not open it back up, and it can help prevent little fingers from getting pinched when the door starts to close.
The whole house:
Every outlet within a toddler's reach in my house has outlet covers. Kids really are curious about outlets, and naturally want to explore them. My mom found me as a toddler with a butter knife, about to stick it in an outlet, and when my husband was a baby, he found a bobby pin, and crawled like greased lightning over to an outlet and stuck the bobby pin in, which left the imprint of a bobby pin burned on his hand for some time. My point is not to scare, but to point out that something as simple and obvious as outlet covers should not be overlooked in this day and age when they are so easy to find and so cheap!
(This is just what is working for us, not meant to be a comprehensive guide to childproofing! Also, I am not getting any type of compensation for this post- these are my honest opinions!)
I have a few other things up my sleeve that I am working on- DIY projects and the like- which I will post about when I make a little more progress!
Wednesday, September 8, 2010
I had the most amazing anniversary a couple of weeks ago. My husband planned our whole date in San Fransisco, and we had a really fun time We walked along the pier, checked out Ripley's Believe it or Not museum (which was really cool!), and went out to eat at a delicious Indian Restaurant. We had a fun time exploring and seeing some of the sites. But the absolute most amazing part of the date...was going to see the Broadway musical, WICKED!!!!!!! Oh my... it was amazing. It was definitely the highlight of the day (and how could it not be?) Even my husband really enjoyed it, which is saying a lot. He did so well, I was so proud of him for planning such a wonderful anniversary date! :)
My husband always plans our anniversary dates, and plans to continue to do so (which I am totally ok with, seeing as how he has been doing a fantastic job of it), but that leaves me with not a whole lot that I can contribute to the day. What I have done the past two years is make a fancy breakfast, write a mushy card, and make chocolate hazelnut truffles. I try to make each as special as possible, and put as much love into them as I can, to make it meaningful. :)
This year, I made some chocolate hazelnut truffles again (YUM!), but this time, I upgraded the presentation from an empty yogurt container last year (not joking, I didn't even decorate it), to a much more attractive stack of origami boxes made from pretty scrap booking paper. I'd say its a step up. :)
I bet you want to try now, too, huh? Well, lucky for you, I am going to share the recipe with you, and show you how to make these lovely origami boxes - together, they makes a great gift for any occasion!
Chocolate Hazelnut Truffles
3/4 cup confectioners' sugar
2 tablespoons baking cocoa
4 milk chocolate candy bars (1.55 ounces each)
6 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup heavy whipping cream
24 whole hazelnuts
1 cup finely chopped hazelnuts, toasted
In a large bowl, sift together confectioners' sugar and cocoa; set aside. In a saucepan, melt candy bars and butter. Add the cream and reserved cocoa mixture. Cook and stir over medium-low heat until mixture is thickened and smooth. Pour into an 8 in square dish. Cover and refrigerate overnight. Using a melon baller or spoon shape candy into 1 inch balls; press a hazelnut into each. Reshape balls and roll in ground hazelnuts. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Yield: 2 dozen.
Stay tuned for part 2 - Making origami boxes!
Monday, September 6, 2010
I am certainly no card making expert, but I do get a lot of joy and satisfaction from giving my creations to others, plus it is kind of therapeutic to let the creative juices run and allow each card to evolve into something bright and cheery. By no means should you feel pressure to produce... the great thing about card making is that you can make as many or as few as you want and not feel like you are leaving things unfinished. Sit down and make several all at once if you have the time and the desire, or just do one when your kids are playing happily and you get 15 minutes to yourself. Just put everything away when you've had enough- no guilt.
I wish I would have started taking pictures of the cards I made when I first started making my own cards, probably 3 or 4 years ago. I enjoy looking back over what I have made and adapting the design for a new look. My philosophy in card making is generally simplicity. Occasionally I will spent extra time embellishing a card, but for the most part, I like a fairly simple design. I don't do much fancy stuff; no stamping, embossing, painting, Cricut cutting, or spiffy paper punching. What I do use are rub on transfers, some stickers, colorful scrapbook paper, scrapbook adhesive squares, cardstock, brads of all shapes, sizes, and colors, random things like buttons, and your card making/crafting necessities (i.e scissors, glue, double stick tape, paper cutter, etc.).
I usually try to choose a few different patterned and solid papers that compliment and/or contrast each other attractively, and use embellishments that add texture to the card. Thick, bumpy paper or cardboard is good, as well as felt flowers, origami figures, string, ribbon, paperclips, or whatever I can find in my stash (or junk drawers).
Or course an added bonus is that you can have the benefit of cute cards while spending very little- a great thing if you are in the habit of sending greeting or thank you cards often.
Friday, September 3, 2010
This glass vase used to match the color scheme in my bedroom, but after I upgraded the bedding and added curtains, it just didn't fit in (kind of a Junior High kind of a situation, if ya know what I mean).
The solution was easy enough; several (and by several I actually mean like 8 or 9!) coats of Rust-oleum's "Canyon Black" did the trick.
I used Krylon's "Leather Brown" spray paint on these icky brassy frames in the bathroom. I love how they now match the brown of the towels and shower curtain.
I learned a thing or two from painting the frames. This may come as a surprise, but it is not a good idea to set the thing you want to paint on a plastic bag, outdoors on a windy day. I was able to repair most of the damage, but there is a reason I didn't zoom in too closely. Not the result I was hoping for, but still better than the brassiness from before.
This was a very cute and functional basket (also sentimental) but very clashy. I used the same brown paint to make it match and switched out the green ribbon for perfectly matching red grosgrain ribbon (from the Dollar Tree, amazingly enough!).
Sigh. The perfect finishing touches for my bathroom (the room I have made the most progress on). I told my husband this morning that our master bathroom might currently be my favorite room in the house.
I guess I will get back to working more on my bedroom, since that's a more practical place to hang out than the bathroom. Ha.
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