Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Conversation Heart Cone and Wreath

 One of the (*many*) things I dislike about moving is that I often cannot find my stuff!!!

As in, I can't find my box of Valentine's decorations! Lame. I suspect my Mr. Wonderful has buried it under a heap of other boxes in the unfinished basement (aka "the dungeon" according to my girls), but as of yet, it has not been uncovered.  And since Mr. Wonderful really is being wonderful and trying to finish this unfinished basement, I don't really want to haul all the boxes out and make a mess of it.

Alas, I suppose I'll have to make some more Valentine's day decor. :) Oh darn. 

All my (missing) Valentine's decorations are classic red and I love them.  But, I decided to go a little softer and pastel for my kitchen/dining area and make one of these super fun conversation heart decorations. 

I must say, it was a really fun little craft to do and my girls (5 and almost 3) thought that it was crazy fun to be "Crafting with Candy."

Things did get a little intense though--I was hoping to use craft glue to glue the hearts on, but that was clearly not going to work (doesn't dry fast enough). So, I had to whip out the ol' glue gun. Amazingly enough, we all survived burn-free. Oh, we got a few scares and touches that were too-hot-for-comfort but no tears were shed and no actual burns. Nothing short of a miracle.

Also, I wanted to find a white Styrofoam cone to use, but I could only find a green floral cone. We painted it pink. I think white would look better, but pink is great and it made my little girls oh-so-happy. 

Fun quick craft. :) 

Happy crafting!

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Winter Fruit Salad

So, I was feeling a little tired of all the cold the other day. You know, just ready for some sunshine and warmth. Ready for some summer food like sweet, fresh fruit. 

Problem was, it was January and it was COLD. As in, negative degrees--BELOW ZERO. That's cold. Not exactly sitting-in-the-backyard-eating-watermelon kind of weather.

Undaunted though, I searched the ol' world-wide-web for some inspiration and came up with this yummy winter fruit salad.

It has all sorts of winter goodness in it--crisp apples, avocados, pomegranate seeds, pistachios, even some banana and clementines.  All mixed together with a sweet, fresh-tasting dressing.

It was delicious, and I must say there wasn't a whole lot left for mealtime because I kept, um, "sampling." :)

Here's the recipe, you'll love it. :)

Winter Fruit Salad
Click here to print.

2 apples—one red and one green (I used a Pink Lady and a Granny Smith)
1 banana, sliced
½ c. pomegranate seeds
1 avocado, sliced
1 clementine, diced
1 11-oz can of mandarin oranges, drained
¼ c. raisins or dried cranberries
¼ c. chopped walnuts
¼ c. shelled pistachios
Juice of 1 lemon (to toss fruit in so it won’t go brown)

¼ c. light olive oil or canola oil
1/3 c. honey
¼ c. orange juice
Juice and zest of 1 lemon
1 tsp. poppy seeds
¼ tsp. salt
Dash of ginger, ground mustard and coriander

  1. Juice a lemon. Slice the apples, banana and avocado and toss in the lemon juice so it won’t go brown.
  2. To this mixture, add the rest of the fruit.
  3. Mix the ingredients for the dressing. Add the dressing to the fruit and stir gently. Serve soon.

Click here to print.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Paper-Heart Garland

Why not get started on some Valentines Day decor?
Here's an EASY and almost FREE idea!

Cut a whole pile of paper hearts and sew them into a fun new garland!
We used up cardstock I already had, but of course you could use coordinating paper
or make a cute pattern.

My 5 year old helped me cut the hearts, he colored some, signed his name on others, let his little sister add some scribbles, and stacked them in the order he wanted them sewn.
(Instead of names or scribbles, maybe little love notes?)

Then I just stitched them together.
(set your sewing machine to the longest stitch, leave a long tail at the end to hang the garland later, and sew right down the center.)

Now just hang them up!
(or send them to someone you love)


Friday, January 18, 2013

Mother-Daughter Aprons

Who doesn't like a new, cute apron? Well, probably a lot of people could give a hoot about aprons, but I think they are super fun and super cute. :) And what could be more fun than a whole set of coordinating aprons for all the little chefs in my house?!

I love this fabric that Emily bought me (Thanks, Em). She knows how much I like bright, cheerful things. :)

I made one for myself, one for my 5 1/2-year-old, one for my almost-3-year-old, and one for the brand new baby even though she clearly won't be cooking with us any time soon. Although it was really fun to include her, I'm thinking that these aprons might be worn out by the time she is old enough to wear them! For one, my 2-year-old is awfully hard on her aprons and for two, I'm just not that great of a sewer so there's some flaws that are already becoming apparent  Oh well, live and learn, right? It is the first sewing project I have solely undertaken on my own, so in that regard I'm rather proud of myself. :)

Anyway, here's what I did, and the sizing seems to have turned out well.

However, one thing I would have done differently is that with my apron (the "adult" sized one) I would have probably made the skirt-portion of it only 16 inches long or gone ahead and made it 18 inches long but only 16 inches on the sides (more oval shaped then semi-circle) because the 18-inch length wraps all the way around in the back and touches, which is fine, but a little unnecessary and even in the way when trying to tie it up.

Anyway, fun sewing project and now my girls and I are quite the matching set in the kitchen!

Here's where we link-up.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Backyard farm: We have eggs!

Ah! I love my chickens and I LOVE the beautiful eggs they lay me. 
Who knew eggs could fill a person with such a happy smile?

Everyday, actually twice a day because I like doing it so much, I head out to the chicken coop with some table scraps and some fresh water (we've been having issues with our waterer in this negative-degree weather).
I call to my little chickens, "Hey chicky, chicky, chickies."

All the chickens come a-runnin'. (This fall when we had them out in the yard, they REALLY came running for me. Cute hens know right who their momma is.)

I feed them, water them, and then the moment I've been waiting for. I go open up their nesting boxes with much anticipation. And low and behold, I have eggs. 
What's it going to be? A pretty speckled one? A green one? One of those cute little tan ones?
Usually we get 3 or 4. Today we got 5. 
5 hens, 5 eggs. Good job girls! Even in this freezing weather! 

The eggs are beautiful, healthy, and delicious. Or so I hear. 
Talk about Murphy's Law: my hens start laying eggs just 2 weeks after my most recent bundle of joy is born, aaaannnnd she has food-protein (egg-protein to be specific) induced entercolitis. In other words, if I eat even the tiniest bit of eggs (I'm breastfeeding her) then she gets gross, slimy green bowel movements, which are bound to turn bloody if I keep at it. So I don't. In fact, I haven't eaten one of these eggs. Not a one! Oh well, little bundle-of-joy's older sisters and daddy sure like them. 

As for me, I will continue to be very happy just looking at them. :)

And to pay proper respect to the hens who laid them, here are some pictures of them.

Here they are during the last week in July when we bought them. Aren't they adorable?!!! I remember driving home from CAL Ranch thinking, "Wow, I have baby chickens in my back seat. What the heck am I thinking?"

Then just a few months later (3 to be exact) they look like this:

They grow CRAZY fast! Not so fluffy and cute anymore, but still big and beautiful. The one up above is Amy (one of our Ameraucanas). Either she or Connie (the other Ameraucana) is laying the green eggs. Can't tell yet.

And this one below, being held by my adorable 2-year-old, is Honey, our Buff Orpington. She is definitely the smartest (which, sadly, isn't saying much). She really is smarter and sweeter than the rest though. A bit of a loner too. When we had them out in the yard (when there wasn't a foot of snow on the ground) she was always hovering underfoot.

And here's a picture of our whole flock, enjoying the last bits of the garden this fall. 
2 Ameraucanas
1 Buff Orpington
1 Silver Lace-Wing Wyandotte
1 Black Austrolorpe 

Quite the fun adventure we've been having. 

They also make the cutest little clucky noises that are quite fun to hear.

And did I mention that they lay beautiful eggs?


Monday, January 14, 2013

Organized Collection

My son loves to collect. 
And since he's 5 his little collection is VERY important.

However, I thought getting rid of the crazy mess on top of his dresser was also VERY IMPORTANT!
You can imagine all this in various piles, bags and boxes scattered throughout his room.
So I gathered all his treasures and got to work.

A few glass jars and some sorting did the trick! 
Now he can see all the wonderful things he's been gathering and I don't see a mess.
I even think it looks quite nice actually.

And I was thinking... wouldn't that be such a fun idea for a mantle? 
Maybe spruced up with some vintage jars (instead of spaghetti bottles.)
 A fun way to display little reminders of family vacations or trips to the beach. 
Maybe some day. When I have a mantle. Or a budget.

For now we're all just happy with this little solution and have fun adding to it. Although, we did have to veto the icicle collection he started last week. It kept disappearing. Yah. 

 here's where we link

Friday, January 11, 2013

Job Chart Printables

I really needed a job chart for my 4 yr old.
But I have this problem. I'm indecisive. (My family is probably laughing right now).
Every time I make a chart, 2 weeks, or days later I don't like it or I want to change it, or I have a different and seemingly better idea. So this was my solution.

I made an EMPTY chart. No words.
Then I laminated it.
Now I can change it anytime I want!

We wrote on our charts with permanent marker so it wouldn't smudge. Then when we're done it will come off with white board cleaner.

So go ahead and print a chart and use it however you like, jobs, meal plans, exercise... whatever.

We're doing a job chart for now, and a little friendly family competition. Whoever has the most squares filled at the end wins a prize! Wish me luck!

click on the chart you like below for the pdf link, then print!

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Tree Mural for Kids' Room

Today we have a SUPER cute tutorial from one of Jaime's BFFs, MaryAnn.
Who wouldn't LOVE to have this tree mural in their kids' play room? or bedroom, or heck, even the living room. :)

Here's MaryAnn's great tutorial.
For the circles:
I was going to buy the wooden circles from hobby lobby but my dad, who does a lot of wood working, sent me a bunch for my birthday when I told him what I wanted to do. He used a homemade circle jig and a bandsaw to cut them out of thin 1/8inch plywood. When I went home for a visit I decided I wanted more so I cut a bunch more out ranging from about 1.5 inch diameter to a 2 foot diameter (didn't end up using the big ones for the trees but did for another part of the room). The biggest circles on the tree are about 1 foot diameter. I sanded the circle edges smooth.
To tie in colors I had in the play room, I choose a green color from their play kitchen, a green that matched their play table chairs, and one other "tree green" that complimented the other colors and a yellow, also pulled from the play kitchen. The ones where I didn't find a color sample that was a close match, I had paint matched at home depot. All of the paint I used I got the sample size of Behr Ultra, which is just a few dollars. After choosing the colors, I painted similar circle sizes similar colors so the colors would end up being spread evenly through the branches as I spread out the circles sizes.

For the trunk:
I sketched a few tree trunk styles on paper to get a feel for the style I liked. Once I knew what I was going for, I drew free hand a colored pencil outline of the tree trunk and branches on the wall. (It took a few attempts to get it how I wanted it.) Then, I used painters tape to tape up the circles and rearrange them until I got the look that I wanted. Once in place, I marked the location of the circles on the wall with small pieces of numbered painters tape, which coordinated to the numbers I had written on the backs of the circles. Next, I used painters tape to outline the tree trunk and branches I had draw. (I had a problem when I put up painters tape planning to paint the next day and then it all fell off the wall, so its probably best to plan to paint right after the tape has been put up and it has the best adhesion.) Also, if I put up a piece of tape and then decided it wasn't quite in the right spot, I got a new piece rather than using the piece I already stuck to the wall once to avoid losing a good adhesion and having too much paint seep under the tape. Note: because my walls are textured, in most places I didn't end up with a tight seal of tape and a perfectly straight paint edge, but the small amount of seeping created a rougher bark-like edge which I liked since we were going for a tree look. Once the trunk was outlined in tape, I filled in the outline using a foam brush. The paint was sample size interior paint Behr Ultra Expresso Beans (dark brown) and while it was still wet, I added some streaks of Behr Ultra Roasted Nuts (little lighter brown) on top to give it a more textured look.

Putting it all together:
After the trunk paint was dry, I removed the tape and touched up a few spots with my background wall color where the paint seeped under the tape a little too much. After I finished the touch ups, I taped up the circles once again, made a last few placement adjustments, and used a nail gun and 1 1/4 inch brads to secure the circles to the wall. (The nail gun was my birthday present!) In some circles lower to the ground I put two brads so the circles wouldn't rotate if touched. One brad held securely but I knew the ones near the bottom would be "tested" by small children so the bigger ones down low got two brads. After the circles were secure, I touched up the paint over the nails with the appropriate color using a foam brush.

A few add-ons:
After I finished the tree and still had a bunch of circles left, I decided to add some flowers beneath the tree. To do so, I choose a red paint that coordinated with my other playroom colors, and the yellow color I had from the tree to paint 8 circles of various sizes. Again using painters tape, I masked of stems of various lengths, and using a green paint leftover from the tree, painted the stems. After the stems and circles were dry, I stacked two circles to create each blossom and nailed them to the top of the stem, again using the nail gun and 1 1/4 inch brads.

I also decided to add some circles above our toy shelves. I painted the largest circles (about 2 foot diameter) various colors from the leftover paint I had, spaced them evenly above the shelves, and nailed them up with the nail gun.

Finished product:
Ta-da! A fun, whimsical tree that gives a playroom a touch of the outdoors. This room is one of my favorite in my house. Its inviting for kiddos, comfortable, and fun. My projects are never "done" so I have considered adding a bird to the tree, leaves to the flowers, or other little details, which I probably will someday, when I don't have time but get an idea that I just have to try. :)

Thanks MaryAnn. Wonderfully cute idea and great instructions. :)