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Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Halloween! (31 Days: Day 30)

Happy Halloween!  It's almost time for some Trick or Treating!  (yeah, that sounds so much more fun when you're 6 than when you're 30, right?)  We will be headed out for that shortly, but I wanted to take a quick minute to document some of the fun we've been having with the holiday.
Last night before carving up the pumpkins we had a fun Halloween theme dinner with mummy wrapped hot dogs and spiced apple cider.  It was the perfect thing to set the stage for the main event - the pumpkins.

I suprised the kids with some fun things in their lunchboxes today - mummy wrapped drinks, Halloween jokes, single serve mandarin oranges with pumpkin faces drawn on them, and spider rings in their sandwiches.
And there you see my little cowboy and rodeo queen.  In order to be able to dress up for school they had to pick something that went with the school's dress up day theme for Red Ribbon Week, which was What I Want to Be When I Grow Up.  I was pretty happy when Tyler suggested the cowboy because we already had everything we needed.  And don't they both look adorable in their hats?

Again - Happy Halloween!  Here's hoping they get some good candy for me to steal ;)

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Pumpkin Carving (31 Days: Day 30)

(no I didn't forget to write anything - I just figured the photos spoke for themselves.  Happy Halloween Eve!)

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Always something to be Thankful for (31 Days: Day 28)

Since I had all the supplies out the other day I decided to go ahead and make one of the Thanksgiving decor ideas I ran across on Pinterest.  Love that saying!  Might be one I need to keep out more often than just the month of November.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Trick or Treat Glass Block (31 Days: Day 27)

Ready for one more candy corn Halloween decoration variation?  Yup, me too! :)  The original inspiration from this one came from here via Pinterest.  Looks pretty simple, right?  Well, you'd be right.  They carry these great glass blocks at most of the big craft stores, complete with a nice little opening in the bottom.  I think mine was $12 before the 40% off coupon.
I used that handy hole in the bottom to stuff some lights and colored tissue paper inside.  I didn't worry too much about the back, but you could cover it up if you wanted to.
I added some vinyl lettering (that Silhouette machine is really earning its keep this month!) and some black tulle.  That it!  Another 5 minute, under $10 project.  I was on such a roll yesterday :)

Friday, October 26, 2012

Candy Corn Shadow Box (31 Days: Day 26)

I was on such a roll with this 31 Days thing - until this week!  It's just been go, go, go one day after another.  The blogging had to take a bit of a back seat and I completely ruined the posting streak I had going on.  *sigh*  Oh well.
That isn't to say that I haven't been crafting.  In fact, today I got in a little unexpected craft time.  You see a friend and I were supposed to be doing a craft show tomorrow so a lot of my day was going to be devoted to last minute things for that.  But it looks like some bad weather is headed our way, and with NC being extra catious about that sort of thing they called everyone and rescheduled it.  Kind of a mess actually, as I had other plans for my Saturday next week and will now have to miss the wedding I was going to, plus the husband will be working so I was stressing a bit until a friend stepped in and offered to watch the kids for me.  Once I had my head wrapped around the new plan, (if you know me at all, you'll know that I hate having my plans changed) I was able to then enjoy the fact that I had the rest of the afternoon that didn't have to be spent tagging items and loading up the car.  Woohoo!  I watched or show or two that had been waiting for me on the DVR, then decided to finish up some of the small holiday decorations I hadn't gotten around to yet.  Like this fun little shadow box.
I have two or three holiday shadow box variations, so of course I had intended to add a Halloween one to the collection at some point.  I think the vinyl haunted house is a fun touch.  I love that there are so many great dingbat fonts out there that I don't even have to buy special designs to use for stuff like this.  And since I seem to have found a bit of a candy corn groove lately, why not put them in the shadow box? 
Not bad for a 5 minute, under $10 project.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Corn Maze (31 Days: Day 21)

When we have a free Saturday or Sunday with nothing scheduled and no big projects on the agenda we like to get out of the house and do something fun as a family.  This week's family fun activity - a corn maze!  There are few things that shout fall more than getting yourself lost in dead stalks of corn, right? :)  I'm teasing - we started taking the kids to a corn maze and all the related activities when they were little and we enjoy them enough that we've managed to do one every year since then.

The bonus this year is that both kids are now old enough that the corn maze kept their interest the entire time - no complaining they were tired or needing snacks or wanting to be carried!  Instead we all took turns being the leader and found all 10 checkpoints in a record (for us) 30 minutes.  Actually the kids found them - when it was my turn with the flag it took me forever to find a checkpoint while the kids seems to unerringly know which way to turn.

Sam insisted that we hadn't had enough time wandering around the corn, so we spent another 20 minutes getting ourselves "lost" again before exploring the other activities.

There were animals to see and feed, bouncy houses, tractors and piles of hay to climb on, etc etc.  I think Kaitlyn's favorite was this sledge-hammer thing.  She went back to it at least 5 times, getting to within one mark of the top by the end of her last turn.

We didn't forget the obligatory "hay" ride - a nice little break to sit and enjoy the scenery.  It still strikes me as strange that here in NC you can find places that look like this nestled right next to all the houses, condos, and businesses.

As we near the end of October I find myself wondering what other fall activities we don't want to miss out on.  We "cheated" with the pumpkin patch thing knowing that we wouldn't have time to visit a pick your own place we grabbed some at Walmart yesterday.  And while some of the leaves are changing colors we have yet to see the big show yet - I'm looking forward to that one.  Hmm...what else...?

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Adventures in Stenciling (31 Days: Day 20)

Crafting is always a bit of an experiment, isn't it?  Seeing something that sparks a creative idea, then figuring out the best way to bring that idea to life - it's kind of hit and miss.  Sometimes things come out as I had planned, and some days my ability or my patience falls short (or I'm having a "perfectionist" moment and nothing seems good enough).  But I usually learn something in the process. 
Most of the time when I want to do lettering or patterns I reach for the vinyl or try to find some scrapbook paper that works with my vision.  However, in a few of my more recent projects (ok, honestly these have been in the works since somewhere around JULY haha) paint seemed like the best option, and consequently, so was the use of stencils.  I have very limited experience with stencils but what I do know is that the most important part is trying to get clean lines with the edges of the paint.  And the "cheap" part of me didn't want to spend a lot of money on supplies.
For my first experiment I decided to use the Silhouette machine to cut out a stencil from contact paper.  It was large enough that I had to cut it in parts then piece the parts together on the board.
Then I used a foam brush and dabbed the paint over the open spaces - stenciling 101, right?

I found that the contact paper was a pretty good choice as it was repositionable but still gave a pretty good bond with the wood behind it so that very little paint leaked around the edges.  Woohoo, success!
On to the next project.  This time I wanted to create a background of chevron stripes and I wanted to be able to use the stencil more than once.  So I took the xacto knife and an empty cereal box and proceeded to cut.  The stencil looked fine, but I had a really hard time keeping the edges down and the paint from seeping out everywhere.  I ended up spending a lot of time touching up that one.
So back to the silhouette machine I went, this time with cardstock.  I did a quick zigzag pattern on 3-4 pieces of paper, then pieced them together so I had a stencil large enough to cover the 12x12 board.  Then I used spray adhesive on the back of the cardstock so that it would stick directly to the wood.  With the adhesive I was using, if you apply it right after spraying it's supposed to be permanent.  If you wait a couple of minutes before sticking it on something, the adhesive is repositionable.  The trick was timing it right so that the glue was tacky enough to stick and not hold permanently, but not too dry that it didn't stay down while I was applying the paint.  I had a few ooops moments with it, but overall it worked out okay.

So I'm curious - what have you found works the best when it comes to stenciling??
And yes, I really am going to leave you hanging and not show photos of the final projects I was stenciling... yet :)

Friday, October 19, 2012

Juggling (31 Days: Day 19)

Busy busy busy!  Every fall seems even more eventful than the last.  It's been one thing after another around here, sometimes more than one thing at once, and it shows no signs of slowing down.  A lot of times I've found myself making that juggling analagy to myself - you know that one about all the balls in the air and hoping I don't drop any of them?  I'm not sure about you, but when I get busy my organizational strategies go right out the window - just when I need them the most!  I had piles of paper all over the place.  Craft supplies stashed in a million different locations.  Projects only partially finished.  Bills that almost got neglected. Appointments to keep.  Follow phone calls that kept getting put off.  And much much more.
I can't function like that for very long before I start feeling stressed or worrying that I'm forgetting something.  My stack of random post-it notes and scrap paper reminders just weren't cutting it.  So with Kaitlyn's big birthday party behind us I was able to carve out a day this week to start putting things back in order again.  Once I had cleared myself some space on my craft table, I pulled out our family binder.  This is something I've been meaning to update for a while now, because when I'm on the ball this 3 ring binder has everything I could possibly need to know for keeping this household on track.  Originally I got the idea for this from FlyLady's Control Journal ( - if you love organization or struggle with it and need some help and haven't explored her site, you really should check it out) years ago.  And as with quite a few things I learned from FlyLady, I made the concept my own and it has stuck with me for a long time, transforming from time to time as needed.
Back when I was doing interior design, my boss was really big on keeping everything in one place.  He even went so far as to make sure I had a fancy Franklin Planner with all the inserts and that I had it with me all the time - at meetings, on the jobsite, out shopping, etc.  And he was right - if you have everything in one place you always know where to find it!  In some ways, my phone can and does fill this requirement, but it's always good to have a place for the paper.  (oh the paper!  piles and piles of paper from the mail and school and lists and reminders and...)

Inside my current binder I have divided it into sections:  Emergency, Calendar, Routines, Important Info, Addresses, Shopping Lists, Menus, Wish/gift lists, and Projects.  Most of those sections still need updating, but I did focus on the most important one for me right now - the Calendar.  I gathered up all the Post-Its and scrap paper and notes from school and typed every single important date/activity into my calendar on Google (that also feeds into my phone so I can get automatic reminders or check it when I'm out).  I even input all the teacher workdays, etc from the school's yearly calendar.  Then I printed out the calendars for Oct, Nov, and Dec and put them in the binder.  I punched holes into things like the school lunch calendar and the notice about dress up days/events for Red Ribbon week and stuck them in the binder as well.  I even added a page protector and slipped in the wedding and birthday party invitations that we plan to attend in the next couple of weeks so we have easy access to phone numbers and addresses when we need them.  (I was pretty pleased with myself over that tricky idea LOL).

By the end of an hour or so I was feeling so much more on top of things and much less worried that something important may slip through the cracks.  The peace of mind is absolutely worth the little bit of effort needed for planning and organization, right?
How do you cope with the crazy schedules that seem to go hand in hand with the Fall season?

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Baby Season (31 Days: Day 17)

Has anyone else noticed this phenomenon?  Not only am I finding that new babies seem to come in waves (the SEVEN that were born in my neighborhood last year are now coming up on their 1st birthdays!), but Fall also seems to have more than it's share of birthdays and new babies.  I have sent out at least two (long distance) baby shower gifts this month and have had a huge bump in sales on the pregnancy/new baby countdown blocks in my shop.  So I thought I'd share a few of my current favorite baby gift items, aside from my crochet hats, of course.

The first is a car seat tent.  I discovered this idea after both of my kids were too old for the infant seat, but oh how nice it would have been to use one of these instead of the blanket thrown over the handle that always fell off or got in the way.

Velcro straps hold it in place and don't get in the way of the carrying handle.

And I always add a strap with double clips so that the cover can also be turned into a nursing cover - you just put the strap around your neck and clip it to one side of the cover, giving yourself and the baby privacy for nursing and the security of knowing the blanket isn't going to be kicked off by a restless infant.  With the added benefit of being already attached to the carseat so no worrying about not having an extra blanket on hand.  Yup - I totally wish I had had one when my kids were babies and I make sure all of my pregnant friends have one.

Right now I have a stock pile of them - the pink/brown/green floral and this beautiful grey/teal argyle print for boys.  I'm so in love with the fabric.  But I can't figure out a single project for myself where I can utilize it yet...

And my other Go To gift is a set of countdown blocks.  I know you've seen these countdowns for holidays like Christmas, right?  So I was so proud of myself when the idea popped into my head to make a set for counting down to a due date.  Fun right?
I've done them in a number of fun colors and pattern variations, the most recent being this pastel combo with lots of greens and yellows.

So, what is your favorite baby gift to give/get?

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Cake Stand Tutu (31 Days: Day 16)

For today's post (day 16 and I think I've only missed one day this week!) I thought would give a closer look at the cake stand tutu I whipped up for Kaitlyn's Rainbow Dance Party.  This is something I have been wanting to create for a while and I was very excited at how well it turned out - and how easily it came together.  And let's face it - what's a Dance Party without at least one tutu?!

The hot pink stuff is actually a stretchy beanie I picked up at a consignment sale for $1.  I just cut the seam holding it together at the top, then looped the strips of tulle through the holes along the unfinished edge.

So what's holding it up?  Just a vase I had in the cupboard.  The plate holding the cake fit very nicely on the top when it was all put together.

Don't be surprised if you see this reincarnated at a later date.  I'm hoping it fits a certain little cutie that will be due for a cake smash session for her first birthday in a couple of months...