Angel Ornament Kid’s Craft

Here’s a quick idea for a fun craft to do with a group of children or just one or two!  I did this with the kids in our neighborhood playgroup last year and they all seemed to enjoy it.

You will need: 1 marshmallow, 2 doilies, a toothpick, some ribbon, red and black sharpies, tacky glue or hot glue, and some yellow embroidery floss or pipe cleaner for a halo.

Directions:  Fold one doily in half, and the other doily in quarters.  Glue the quartered doily on top of the half- doily, as shown in the picture.  Poke the toothpick up through the middle of the half- doily; the marshmallow goes on the exposed toothpick end.  Glue in place.  Cut a small piece of yellow floss or pipe cleaner and make your halo- glue it on.  Use the ribbon to make a loop to hang on the tree- glue that in place too.  Use the sharpies to make a face on the angel.

Fun, easy craft for the kiddos!

This year, I think I am going to have our playgroup make this simple but very cute ornament from Fun Home Things:

What crafts are you planning to do with your kids this year?

Mother and Baby Shower

I mentioned very briefly in my last post that while in Oregon, we had a baby shower.  What I didn’t mention was that it was a shower (or, more accurately, a mother and baby shower) for my sister Marissa!  My mom, my sisters and I collaborated and planned it all, with Marissa’s help and input, and I think it was a success!

 

Marissa wanted frilly, lacy, pink-y loveliness as the theme, and so that’s what we did!

Marissa and I got together and laughed hysterically- as we usually do- while we designed the invitations.  We were able to make them entirely out of what we had on hand already. :-)  The pink part is a sleeve which the invitation slides out of.  The umbrellas, clouds, and hearts were cut using my Silhouette machine.  I designed the text part of the invitation in Inkscape.

If you are going to ask people to RSVP, it is a good idea to not only include your phone number, but also your email address- some people (including myself) don’t like to call.  We also created a facebook event.  Hey, we just figured that the easier it was (and more ways there were) to RSVP, the better response we would get.

I had read about an idea of a “mother blessing shower” in one of my favorite new books (The Gift of Giving Life– seriously an amazing book; I would say that reading it, along with their blog for the past two years has changed my life and the way I think about motherhood- I’m not paid to say that, it’s just true.  Go check it out; you won’t be disappointed, even if you just read through the archives of some of the positive birth stories).  I was charmed with the idea that while it is great- and really fun- to focus on the baby, a shower is also a great opportunity to celebrate motherhood.  So, taking the suggestion from the book, in our announcement we invited people to bring a blessing or good thought for Marissa and a bead or charm to represent it, which would be put on a charm bracelet for Marissa to wear and feel happy vibes! 😉

This was a blank paper we included in the invitation for people to bring their written good wishes on.

The shower was fun (I really enjoyed seeing people I haven’t had the pleasure of visiting with for many years in some cases) and lovely of course.  We used pieces from our mom’s wedding china to hold flowers and candy.  My mom also had a great collection of crystal and glass serving dishes, and glass snack sets which she inherited from her mother.  I had picked up mini- chalkboards from the craft store recently, and those were fun to use, along with ribbons, and tons of tissue paper that we turned into flowers and pom-poms.

Ooh, before I forget, the menu included assorted fresh fruit, gluten/dairy/egg free brownies (which were amazing), oreo truffles, jordan almonds and Dove chocolates, dark and white chocolate drizzled popcorn, and heavenly pink sorbet punch.  Mmm.

Here’s the cute pregnant mama… I wonder why I couldn’t get her to look at the camera?!

Something else we did that I have seen done at other showers is pass around a basket of blank envelopes for people to address to themselves to make it that much easier for Marissa to send out her thank-you notes.  (Whoops, don’t have a picture of that one, but you can use your imagination…)

A few nights ago, Marissa and I got together, and we added jump rings to all the charms, and attached them on to a bracelet that we made.  I think it is adorable, if a bit crowded- but you can never have too many blessings, right?!  Some of the charms were meant for the baby some day, so ultimately, a few charms will be removed and it won’t be quite so crowded.

Here’s what it looks like on.  Artsy, unique, lovely, and a reminder of all the love, blessings, and good wishes from friends and family!

As a gesture of gratitude/ favor of sorts for those who attended, we made about 30 of these crocheted friendship bracelets with a bead in the middle.  The idea was that people would grab one as they walked out the door, but of course we forgot until half of the people were already gone.  😛  Oops.  Maybe they will go out in some of the thank you notes.

We definitely had fun with this baby shower, and I really liked the “mother blessing” part.  It seems appropriate to me that this portion could be done for any mother- regardless of how many babies she has had, or if she needed an actual “shower” for the baby.  Honoring motherhood and womanhood is always a good move in my book!  Tell me what you think in the comments!

A Grown Up Birthday Party

Last week the local Relief Society (women’s organization) of my church celebrated its birthday (actually later this month it turns 170 years old!) and I was asked to decorate… happy dance!

I didn’t get a ton of great pictures, but I thought I would quickly share what I did (with a small budget too)!

I pretty much had free reign as far as themes go, so I decided to go with simple, bright and colorful (while trying to avoid making it feel too much like a 3rd grade birthday party).

The majority of my budget went towards purchasing round vinyl tablecloths- why are those so much more expensive than rectangular tablecloths?!  We put contrasting tissue paper on top of the tablecloth, then filled mason jars with colorful tissue flowers. See how to make tissue paper flowers here (this is the approximate method I used).

I printed out “Charity Never Faileth” motto place cards which were then embellished with paper flowers.  I downloaded the free word art graphic here.

We had a soup buffet, and there were some amazing soups!  (Think clam chowder, chicken tortilla soup, taco soup, tuscan chicken soup, pumpkin soup, creamy tomato with tortellini…. Yes, I had like 5 bowls, thanks.)  We hung my reusable ruffled streamers on the walls and around the food tables.  Find the tutorial for ruffled streamers here.

Of course we had birthday cake (I’m sad I didn’t get a picture of the cake.  I’m terrible at remembering to take photos at events like this.  I never even think of it most of the time. Wah.).

Besides the table cloths, I think I only spent about $2-3 because I used things I already had (i.e. I’m kind of a packrat and I save used pieces of giftwrap tissue for projects- perfect for these flowers!)

I just have to say that I love being a part of the Relief Society.  I am grateful for so many women who have become role models, sisters, and friends.  Yay for Relief Society!

Origami Tree Tutorial and Christmas Party Decorations

Don’t miss the tutorial to make one of these lovely trees at the bottom of this post!

This Christmas season has gotten off to a roaring start!  Last Friday we made it to two of the three parties we had scheduled (!) – I guess everyone is trying to get their parties over and done early.  I was put in charge of decorations for our church Christmas party that we had that evening.  Luckily I didn’t have to do it alone- my friend Becca and I decided we make a great creative team despite a budget that did not support our delusions visions of grandeur and working with seating for 220 in a small gym.

The seating arrangements were tough.  Our church has a few long rectangular tables, but mostly round tables, and not enough to seat everyone, so we ended up borrowing rectangular tables.  We arranged two long rows of the rectangular tables, banquet style, and filled the rest of the gym with round tables.  I think almost every seat ended up being filled.  It was cozy- that’s for sure!

To keep our costs down, we made a lot of the decorations ourselves, and used things we already had.  For example, we folded dozens of green origami trees- with the help of friends and family, thankfully!  I bought about $3.00 worth of green butcher paper, measured and cut it into different sized squares, and went to town using an origami pattern my mom shared with me.  I think in total we folded about 20 trees and made several coffee filter wreaths (a big thanks to Marissa, Cara, Becca and Lindsey who all accepted jobs in my Christmas sweatshop).  Aside from the tablecloths, I believe we spent between $10-$15 for the whole thing.

Becca folded probably dozens of silver and gold stars too, which we taped to the accordion doors behind one of the buffet lines.

On the wall behind the buffet tables on the other side of the room, we hung strands of white Christmas lights, 6 wreaths and a few large silver doilies.  Down the long walls on either side were hung small white doilies (as snowflakes), and we hung a few wreaths on the doors.

The tables were covered in red, white, and green tablecloths, and some of them had a contrasting color of tissue paper or napkin in the center.  As centerpieces for the round tables, we used our lovely origami trees and mason jars with assortments of pine cones, Epsom salt, fake red berries, electric tea lights, and jute/ tulle tied around them.

On the banquet tables we put “bouquets” of fresh greenery tied with ribbon, laid end to end and with pine cones and electric tea lights here and there.  We also used a few of the origami trees and some book trees, and long cinnamon sticks tied with ribbon.  Each table was a little different.

I am lucky enough to have fresh fir tree branches at my disposal- for free!  My family lives on a Christmas tree farm and my mom sent me loads of heavenly- smelling greenery by way of Marissa who drove out for Thanksgiving.  (Thanks Mom and Marissa)!

As a decoration for the food table, we used a large vase and arranged silver and gold spray painted branches inside, with a few glass ball ornaments hanging.

 The dessert tables had large tree boughs around the backs, and tomato cage trees.  We put two more tomato cage trees along one of the side walls.  Thank you Pinterest for that idea!

Three of our wreaths; the one on the left is a coffee filter wreath and the one on the right is a book page wreath.

I think it all turned out beautifully and we had so much fun! (PS- Thank you Becca for taking most of the above photos!)  Now, on to the origami tree tutorial.  My disclaimer: I am not an origami pro, and I really don’t know all the technical names for folds.  My folding isn’t perfect, and after a while, I’m not so much of a perfectionist anymore!  My only recommendation is to make a sharp crease when folding- use the back of your nail, and try to line up corners evenly as best you can; other than that- it is what it is!  These are not difficult folds once you get the hang of them, but it can be time consuming if you want to make multiple trees, since you will probably need to fold 4 separate papers for each tree.

Origami Trees
These are not difficult folds once you get the hang of them, but it can
be time consuming if you want to make multiple trees, since you will
probably need to fold 4 separate papers for each tree.

You can make this tree on a really large scale, or a very small scale, and it looks great either way.  If you want to make 10″ trees (approximate measurement) like I did for the Christmas party centerpieces, you will need square papers of the following sizes:  12″, 10.5″, 9″, 7.5″.  Or, if you want to customize your tree size for your own needs, a good rule of thumb is that each paper size should decrease by about 1/8.

Let’s start with the “Stacking Tree Bases” for lack of a better term.  You will make three of these in total, in descending size.

1.  Start with your square paper.  You actually want to turn it so the pattern is facing down before step 2.
2.  Fold the paper in half diagonally (bottom to top) to make a triangle- pattern facing out.
3. Open up the paper.
4. Fold in half diagonally again, the other way (right to left), so that the folds look like an X shape.

5. Orient the paper so the triangle point is facing downward.  Put your finger next to the crease to hold the left side in place, and with your other hand, separate the layers of the right side.
6.  Pull the right corner down on top of the bottom corner.
7. Give the folds a nice sharp crease.  You should have a square on top of the triangle now.
8.  Fold the left side of the square up diagonally on top of itself.

9.  Repeat the same fold from step 5- separate the layers of the left corner a bit.  Use your other hand to stabilize the bottom corner while you do this.
10.  Fold the left corner of the original triangle down to the bottom point.
11. Crease the folds sharply.
12. Fold the triangle flap from step 8 back over to the left.

13. Fold diagonally so the the bottom corner of the square matches up with the top corner.  Fold the top layer of right side of the square over diagonally to the left corner.  Fold so the bottom corner matches up with the top corner again.  Repeat until all the squares are folded diagonally (bottom to top).
14. You should have a triangular shape that looks like this.
15. Take the top corner that you just folded and pinch it together, then start pulling it down towards the left corner.
16. Line up the corners and pinch in place.  Grab the right corner and fold it over so that it matches up with the left corner, and the top corner is folded down and sandwiched inside.  Press together, making sure to crease the folds on the paper sandwiched inside.  This picture shows what it looks like when you open it back up a bit.
17. Repeat steps 15 and 16 on the next 3 sides.
18. After you have done this for each of the 4 sides, it should look like this.  You are now done with the base of the tree- you need to make 2 more just like this with the smaller pieces of paper.

On to the “Tree Topper”!

Use the smallest paper for the topper.

1. Start with the same square you made for the Stacking Tree Bases (steps 1-12).
2. Grab the top layer from the right corner, separating the two layers, and hold it straight up at a 90* angle.
3. While stabilizing the bottom corners, push the center fold straight down so it lines up with the folds below.
4. Crease the folds sharply.

5. Repeat steps 2-4 on each of the 4 sides. so you end up with a kite shape like this.
6.  Fold the top layer of the right side over to the left, so the kite shape is closed like this.  You should apply glue on the patterned area of the paper that is shown in step 5, and then do this fold.

Put it all together!

1. Take your bottom base piece and turn it over- this is what the bottom looks like.
2. Pull the pieces slightly apart and apply glue, then squish it all together so all 4 corners are touching in the middle.
3. For the next two stacking base pieces, you want to put the glue far away from the corners that meet in the middle, so that it holds its shape, but still has room to fit over the top of the other pieces.
4. Here’s what it looks like from the top.
5. Place a dot of glue (I used hot glue) on the top point.
6. Quickly stack the next biggest piece on top, making sure the glue holds it in place. Repeat for the next two layers.

Tree with three layers- you really could be done here if you wanted.

Here’s the finished tree!

As always, if you have questions (or if you liked the tutorial), leave a comment below or email me at rochelle@homesweethomebodies and I will do my best to answer your question.  Happy folding!

DIY Guy Gifts : A roundup of my favorites

Let’s face it: It’s easy to come up with fabulous handmade gifts for girls and women, and there are even quite a few great handmade gift options for little boys, but thinking of things to make for the men in our lives is… not easy.  I was talking with my friend Danielle about this last week, and after thinking of the things I have already done or have bookmarked to do, and doing a little research, I have come up with a list of my favorite DIY guy gifts.

There are actually a whole bunch of ideas for handmade gifts for men out there, but I’ve found many of them lacking… I realized that I have a few “requirements” that must be met any time I consider making something as a gift for someone.  If these requirements aren’t met, there’s a high probability the gift I lovingly toil over will end up at the thrift store, or in my craft stash, never to be finished.  So to be considered by me, any and all handmade gifts must meet these three requirements: 1. Must be useful or attractive; 2. Not a knick-knack; 3. Must be realistic.  Also, big points for not having to spend big bucks. 

So with that in mind, I am ready to share my favorite DIY guy gifts and the source you can go to for the free tutorial!

Sew

The Best Men’s Tie Pattern @ Puking Pastilles
Neckwarmer Tutorial @ Skip to my Lou
Flannel Shirt Lunchbag -right here @ Home Sweet Homebodies… tutorial to come!
Emergency Car Kit @ Holidash

Sewing Honorable Mentions:
Baseball Applique Pillow @ Better Homes and Gardens
Monogrammed Neckties @ Martha Stewart
Fabric Luggage Tags @ Skip to my Lou
Great Outdoors Fishing Vest @ Sewing.org

Crochet/ Knit

Crochet Mens Slipper Pattern @ Simply Home Made
Extra Warm Men’s Scarf @ Cotton and Cloud

Cook

Spicy Terriyaki Beef Jerky @ FOODjimoto (By the way, jerky can be dried in the oven too.)
BBQ Spice Rubs @ Kojo Designs
“Dessert of the Month” or “Breakfast in Bed” Coupons -see ideas @ Spray Paint Queen

Craft

Lego Belt Buckle and Tie Tack @ Kojo Designs
Car Shirt @ The Blue Basket
iPhone App Magnets @ Infarrantly Creative
Rolled Paper Chess Set @ Paper, Plate, and Plane

Crafting Honorable Mentions:
Upcycled Bicycle Handlebar Bag @ Giver’sLog
DIY Monogram Mugs @ Design Mom

Here are two more great ideas: The first is from Charmed Goals, and she writes about “Boy Balm and Leather Food”- a beeswax & olive oil blend scented with manly essential oils that can be used for lips, dry skin, and polishing leather.  The second is from Fortuosity, and it is too late to do this year, but you could plan to do this for Christmas 2012:  “A year in the making”– this awesome wife bought a hardcover planner and filled it with pictures, mementos, recognitions, and notes all year long for her husband, and presented it to him at Christmas time.  There’s a lot of love behind a gift like that!

By the way, Kojo Designs is also doing a Gifts for Guys series this month, so head over and check out some of the other ideas they are featuring.

I hope this was helpful for those of you planning to handmake gifts for the men in your lives!  If you’ve got a great idea to add to the list, leave a link in the comments so we can all check it out!

Breast Cancer Awareness Month

Source: http://www.nationalbreastcancer.org/

Breast cancer awareness… a matter close to my heart.  Besides having more than one family member who has battled breast cancer, I am a public health nurse at the local health department, and one of my main functions is to screen for and educate about breast cancer.

These are the lovely ladies I work with.  I truly couldn’t have better coworkers.  I am on the bottom right in this picture.

We just had a health fair honoring breast cancer survivors and we put on a luncheon for a few women who have come through our clinic and who are being treated for cancer.

My boss put together a beautiful lunch for these women.  Yours truly was assigned to make the centerpiece.  I used my anthropologie-inspired cake platter/ cupcake tower, some beautiful rose cupcakes (that Marissa mostly frosted), fresh fruit, and rainbow tissue flowers as accents.  I think it turned out pretty good!

Important breast cancer information:
If you are at least 20 years old, you should be doing self breast exams.  I know
you may feel uncomfortable, or it may be difficult to remember, but do
whatever you have to do to remind yourself! Put a note or sticker
somewhere you will see it, or choose to do it on your birthday- date
each month. If you are at least 40 years old, you need a mammogram every
1-2 years (every year after age 50). Men, please encourage the women in
your lives to do this- it may save their life. When breast cancers are
detected early, women have an excellent chance of survival.  If you need
a reminder on how to do a self- exam, check out this link that has step- by- step instructions.

I like to tell the women I screen that doing a breast self exam isn’t
really about following a rigid set of instructions or searching for
cancer.  Thinking of it that way can cause anxiety that may cause you to
avoid even thinking about it.  I recommend being aware of your body-
becoming familiar with what is normal for you.  Think of it as a way to
have peace of mind.  If you do notice a change, whether it be a lump, a
change in color or texture of the skin on your breast, a change in shape
or appearance of any part of the breast, or anything out of the
ordinary that persists and doesn’t resolve, you should have it checked
immediately by a health care professional.

As women, we put so much of our energy into taking care of other
people that we sometimes neglect to take care of ourselves.  Please consider that you can best care for
those you love by keeping yourself healthy!  What I’m
saying is that there really isn’t any good excuse for not giving your
health the attention it deserves.

If money or lack of insurance/ underinsurance is an issue, there are
programs that offer free or low cost mammograms to women over 40 each
year if you meet certain income requirements. The clinic I work at is
one of these programs, and there are programs like this all over the
U.S. You can check out the CDC’s website to find out if you qualify.

What can you do to help?
1. Get yourself screened.
2. Spread the word and encourage someone you love to get screened.
3. Show support this month for breast cancer awareness and those who have battled breast cancer by wearing pink or the BCA ribbon.
4. Raise money for breast cancer awareness by participating in or supporting fundraisers.

Make the world sweeter this month by doing as many things in the above list as you feel you can!

Faux- Metal (TP Tube) Wall Art

Were you all as inspired as I was by this faux- metal wall art on Suzy’s Artsy Craftsy Sitcom?  If you haven’t been over there, you should really check it out- there are tons of great projects. Anyway, I saw her project and thought that I could totally do something like that, and besides, I have a bag of toilet paper and paper towel tubes I have been saving, much to my husband’s chagrin, for some time. So I picked up some bass wood from my local craft store, and a can of bronze hammered metal spray paint (I already had black and clear), and got to work. I don’t really need to give you the step by step- Suzy has already done that, but I might add a few notes…
– A smooth round pencil does a great job of “curling” the cardboard strips.
-Use hot glue- it dries way quicker than wood glue, although you will have to then pull away all the little strings.
-Spray paint first with black and be careful not to saturate it- it will fall apart. :( Paint light coats, let dry for 5 min in between.  After the black, find a metallic type paint and spray just enough to give it the look you want.
-When you spray paint, if you use some sort of protective material behind your art (because, you know, a big black spot on the lawn is not going to please certain other people you live with), use paper (like a big paper shopping bag) or fabric.  Do not use plastic, because it will stick, and you will be sad when it falls apart when you are peeling it off, and you have to re-glue it.  Not that I would know that from experience…  Anyway, I also sprayed mine with a clear coat to protect it and keep any paint from rubbing off onto the wall.  Since the finished art is so lightweight, I just hot glued black ribbon loops to the top and hung it with a push pin.

This faux metal art went very nicely with some frames in my living room (you can kind of see the reflection of those in the picture frame in the center) but this wall was pretty plain, and these really helped tie things together.

 

I kept the ends of the wood that I trimmed when I was making my large faux metal art, and made two small pieces for my bedroom.

Below are the small pieces, on either side of my fabric-covered-foam picture wall art. (If you are new and didn’t see my tutorial in February on how to make these, click the link above for the tutorial).

A few people have commented on my “new wrought iron wall art” and have been surprised to discover that not only is it not metal, but it is made from toilet paper tubes.  Haha.  I should probably stop telling people my secret…

By the way, I posted a tutorial on how to make these natural home decor balls (above) earlier in the spring, but now is the time, if you have access to these materials, to harvest and start making them- check out the tutorial!

Gratitude, and a free printable

Making the World a Little Sweeter this month is all about gratitude.

Ah, Gratitude: a virtue too often overlooked, when it should be a fundamental part of our way of thinking, no?

“Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues, but the parent of all the others.” – Cicero

You may already know that when you have an attitude of gratitude, you tend to be happier and more content with life, but did you know that making gratitude a habit actually improves your physical health and brain function? (according to research done by Daniel G. Amen, MD)   Of course, expressing that gratitude has the potential to lift and inspire others.  Think of a time when someone thanked you for something you did- even if you were not expecting anything in return.  You were probably surprised and touched, right?  So by focusing on gratitude- and expressing it- we are going to feel great and help others feel great too.

First- on cultivating an attitude of gratitude, I suggest starting a gratitude journal.  This is something I have done in the past, and it really made me think every day about the good things that happened.  I have enjoyed going back and reading things that I wrote way back in the day.  If you want to start a gratitude journal, all you need is a notebook or a scrap of paper, but if you want to motivate yourself with something cute, why don’t you check out this tutorial with free printable pages from Small + Friendly.

Second- We have so many opportunities to uplift others by simply saying thank you.  Most of us are probably on our best behavior much of the time, and we say our pleases and thank-yous when we should- mostly.  But I would bet that if you think about it, you will be able to come up with someone who you’d still like to thank- or at least thank better.  At first, when I started thinking of people who deserve my thanks, I realized there wasn’t really any dramatic instance where someone saved my life, or did something that changed my whole life, but there were so many people who performed small acts that really did change my life in small ways…  The woman whose friendship meant the world to me at a time when I was a newcomer with no friends and few acquaintances.  The youth leader who listened to and encouraged me during my painfully shy and awkward adolescence.  The first friend I made as a student in a foreign country, who opened her heart to me, and who is still in my heart these years later.  The boss who wouldn’t let administration cut my part time job, and who supported me in wanting to be a mother first and foremost.  The casual friend I didn’t know too well, but who let me cry on her shoulder during a tough time, and then called me up later to find out how I was doing.  All the people who have genuinely cared about me when they didn’t have to.  Whether they knew it or not, they all left positive impressions on my life.  Some of these wonderful people I have thanked recently, and some I still need to seek out.

My challenge to you this month is to thank someone in your life- either someone from your past, or someone who is making a difference to you right now.  Could be a friend, family member, or acquaintance… anybody who has done something positive for you, or for your family.  You could surely send a thank you card, write a letter or quick email, make a phone call, or drop off a plate of cookies to that person who has made your life a little sweeter.

And, dear readers, I must thank you.  I appreciate your sticking with us, reading, and commenting.  So, just for you, here is a free printable- a thank-you checklist style card- just click the picture below, and it will open a google doc that you can then print from or download the card.  I hope you enjoy it (and use it)!

PS: You can make an envelope by trimming and folding a 12×12 piece of scrapbook paper to fit around it.  As long as the finished dimensions of any envelope are less than 6 1/8″ x 11 1/2″ and it weighs less than 3.5 oz, you should be able to mail it with one stamp- currently $0.44- in the U.S.  You don’t necessarily have to put it in an envelope though; you could punch a hole and thread some ribbon through it and attach it to a door, or a treat to give away.  Any other ideas out there about presentation?