Category Archives: Projects

Halloween Cookie Extravaganza!

I went on a bit of a baking binge this week. It was partially driven by the fact that I’d volunteered to donate treats to the school for Spooky Story Night, and also by the fact that I went 10 days without an oven.

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If you want to make something quick and easy this Halloween, try out these Gooey Monster Eye Cookies. I found the small candy eyes in the baking section of my grocery store, and the larger candy eyes came from Hobby Lobby.

Gooey Monster Cookies

1 Box Yellow Cake Mix

1/2 cup butter, softened

1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

8 oz. cream cheese, softened

1 egg

green gel food coloring

powdered sugar

candy eyeballs

  1. In a stand mixer, combine butter, vanilla, egg, and cream cheese. Beat until fluffy.
  2. Add cake mix and stir until combined.
  3. Add food coloring. Once the mixture reaches the desired color, chill in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.
  4. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  5. Roll dough into 1 and 1/2-inch balls, then roll in powdered sugar. Place on a parchment-lined baking sheet.
  6. Bake for 10-12 minutes, and push candy eyes into cookies while warm.

The original recipe comes from Lil’ Luna’s blog.

These cookies are really gooey and delicious. The next time I make them, I’ll probably try using white cake mix instead of yellow. I wanted more of a Mike Wazowski green, and what I ended up with was a bit more Oscar the Grouch.

My second cookie project of the week was a bit more involved. OK, it was a lot more involved.

I have a good friend who is a cookie master. I tried decorating sugar cookies myself years ago for Neely’s Hello Kitty birthday party, and the results were horrible. Helene saved the day! Since then, she’s shared her cookie-making secrets with me and taught me a thing or two about royal icing.

img_2586This was my first attempt all on my own. I definitely have room for improvement, but all things considered, I’m really happy with how these turned out. I may not have been able to cook dinner for my family for two days with cookie accoutrements spread all over the kitchen, but I have desserts for days!

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Catching up…part two…

I know you’ve just been sitting around for the last two days, wondering what else could possibly be keeping me so busy that I’m not updating my blog. I’m back to add to the list, and ease your curiosity. (ha!)

HALLOWEEN COSTUMES!

This year, Aidan has chosen to dress as a Minecraft skeleton, and Neely is going as Anna from Frozen…with the request that I dress up with her, as Elsa. She comes by it honestly. I love a good group costume.

After many stops and restarts, I finally finished the Anna costume last week.

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The skeleton is still a work in progress. I’ve got the body/sweat suit done. It’s the stinking box head that I need to buckle down and finish. I know it won’t even take that long. I’m not sure why I haven’t motivated myself to get it done yet. Poor Aidan. This will probably be the costume that isn’t ready until October 30th. At 11:59pm.

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The Elsa dress is nowhere near finished. I got the bodice sewn together, three weeks ago, and when it came time to attach the skirt, I realized I’d cut a piece out with the wrong side of the pattern on the fold. No problem, I’ll just go get more fabric, right? Wrong. I bought the last of the bolt. I waited a week to see if our Joann’s would restock it, and they didn’t. They can’t ever tell you if they’re going to get more of something, either. It’s ridiculous. So I ordered more online. One week later, my order is canceled, BECAUSE IT IS OUT OF STOCK ONLINE!!! I checked my local store again. Still nothing, and there wasn’t anything left in the same color to make due. My super wonderful fantastic mother saved my butt. She went to her Joann’s, in Tennessee, found something in the same color, and shipped it to me. It arrived yesterday, so I need to get back in gear on this dress. At least all the other material I bought and already cut out won’t be going to waste, the way I was afraid it would be.

I’m a bit afraid to share the last costume I’m working on. This one is for me, too. We’re attending a Halloween-themed event on November 1st, and I’m weird. I don’t want to use my Halloween costume for it. This dress is a major work in progress.

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Does anybody have a guess? I may not share it unless it turns out. We shall see…

 

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The Fairy Garden

On my last visit home, inside Yarrow Acres, a lovely gardening shop on Main Street, I discovered something wonderful – fairy gardens. I know these are not a new phenomenon, but somehow, I had never seen one before!

I love all things miniature and really, really wanted one to call my own. My first step was to turn to Pinterest. I searched the web for all things fairy. There are all kinds of wonderful crafters on Etsy, creating tiny houses, furniture, animals, fruits and vegetables, everything you need! Another great resource is the dollhouse section of Hobby Lobby…just don’t forget your 40% off coupon!

When it came down to the wire, though, I wasn’t confident in my ability to plant the fairy garden. Accessorizing and decorating it? No problem. But no one has ever accused me of having a green thumb.

Enter Lowe’s Floral in Minot. Just before Mother’s Day, Lowe’s posted photos of a gorgeous fairy garden on their Facebook page. When John and the kids started making noise about buying flowers, I firmly hinted that a fairy garden would be a much better idea. 🙂

My garden was custom made, so I had to be patient. We picked up my lovely last weekend.

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I adore it! I added the little red wagon, the pennant, and the tiny gardening tools, but the rest is exactly the way it came from Lowe’s. I need to get some tiny flowers and maybe some veggies to add to the pots.

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And look! It even has a little gnome friend! He likes to drink coffee with me on the porch. What’s up, Gnomey? 😉

I love my fairy garden, and I’m really glad I didn’t try to tackle it myself. You’d probably be seeing me on one of those Pinterest fail lists if I had.

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It’s almost Valentine’s Day!

DSC_0188We’ve been getting ready for Valentine’s Day around here! This year, I have completely abandoned the Pinterest project boards. My feed has been bombarded with pink and red pretty much since the day after Christmas. And here’s the thing. I love Pinterest. I really do. Sometimes, though, spending too much time on the site does nothing but make me feel bad about myself for not taking time to assemble cute handmade goodies for both my kids’ classes. Other times, I fall in with the masses and am one of the four moms that hand out Reindeer Noses at Christmas. This Valentine’s Day, I resolved not to let all those uber-creative moms sharing their projects on the interwebs get me down. I spent $5 at Wal-Mart on boxed cards, and these little guys loved them. They had fun signing the cards and adding stickers, and that is all that matters.

We did put a little more effort into the boy’s Valentine box. BUT, I am proud to say, I did not use the internet to find an idea. We brainstormed, decided on a course of action, and I figured out a way to make it happen all by myself. It’s another good reminder that I don’t need to rely on other people to be creative for me.

What kind of box did he make?

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A Lego! I know. It’s really not that hard to execute. I’m proud of it anyway. He was proud of it too, until some jerk kid knocked one of the pegs off the top as soon as he got it to school. Sorry if it’s your jerk kid I’m talking about, but seriously? Who does that? Meany pants.

I’m trying not to dwell on it. I am getting excited about the heart-shaped pizzas that we’re celebrating with this year. Oh, yes. Valentine’s Day at our house is fancy. 🙂

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Handmade Gifts – Felt Dolls

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I adore handmade gifts. I love to make them. I love to receive them. There’s just something special about knowing that someone spent their precious time making something for you. I also know that we all have different talents, and everyone is handy in different ways. I think that’s why I love Etsy so much. I love looking through all of the incredible things that people all over this world have made.

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If you have a little girl to give to and have any sewing ability at all, I highly recommend visiting Gingermelon on Etsy. In her shop, she has the most wonderful patterns for stuffed dolls and ornaments. The instructions are very simple and easy to understand. All the stitches you need to know are illustrated in them. You can purchase the felt and safety eyes you need right from her Etsy shop. The only thing you have to go to the store for is embroidery floss, and a needle if you don’t already have one.

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I made Rapunzel for my daughter and niece last year. Two of my niece’s friends are getting this recent batch of dolls for Christmas this year. Aren’t they precious? I can’t decide which one is my favorite. Tinkerbell? Or maybe Snow White. They’re all so cute!

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Who do you like best? What handmade gifts are you giving this year?

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Make – Jewelry Organizer

I have been in desperate need of jewelry organizing solutions for a while now. A small jewelry box on my dresser houses my favorites and most oft-worn pieces. I also have an earring frame that an aunt made me years ago that holds my earrings. But that’s it. Everything else has been crammed into jewelry boxes and bags in a small drawer in my dresser for a while now. It’s a complete disaster. When I try to find something, pretty much everything has to come out until I locate what I want.

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Enter this empty frame that I found in the Hobby Lobby clearance aisle a few years ago. It used to live on my living room wall…two houses ago. Since then, it’s just been hanging out in various closets. I finally found a way to give it new purpose. All you need to do this project yourself is an empty frame, a roll of mesh hardware cloth (mine has 1/4-inch squares), a staple gun, wire cutters, and some S hooks.

Begin by cutting the hardware mesh to fit the back of the frame. This is the trickiest/most time-consuming part. I’m sure there is something more efficient to use than the little wire snips that I have. If you have something better, by all means, use it!

Once you have your piece of mesh, flip the frame over, and staple the mesh to the back.

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I stapled mine down every 3-4 inches, making sure the wire was pulled tight and flat all the way across. It will flatten out some when it hangs against the wall, but you don’t want it all bowed and saggy.

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All that was left to do after that was to hang it on the wall, add the S hooks, and hang my necklaces. The whole project took maybe 20 minutes, and the bulk of that time was spent cutting wire. This isn’t every necklace that I own, but it gets the bulkiest ones out of the drawer. I love that I’m wearing them more now that I can see my options all the time.

 

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Project – Painted Dresser

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For about a year now, I’ve been making noise about repainting my daughter’s dresser. It was a hand-me-down, already white, and we gave it an extra coat of white paint before putting it in her nursery. That was over four years, a highlighter, a few crayons, and tons of stickers ago. In my head, I imagined it pink…until the day we went to buy the paint. Then, I changed my mind to green. Her bedding is The Princess and the Pea, from Land of Nod, so it works better than pink, I think.

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I began by removing the hardware, sanding it with my Black & Decker Mouse, and covering it with a coat of Kilz spray primer. I don’t really recommend doing all of this indoors. I covered as much as I could with sheets and a drop cloth. It’s still too cold to be doing anything in the garage here yet, but I didn’t want to wait another month to work on it. I’ve been putting it off for a year. Who knows when the mood would strike again if I’d waited? While you’re covering things, don’t forget your eyes and mouth. Dust flies and Kilz stinks, people.

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Next up? Two coats of paint. I used Pittsburgh Paints ultra interior latex satin in Dinner Mint. It’s very pretty, but a little ambiguous. Depending on the light, it would sometimes look mint and sometimes closer to aqua.

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Here’s a closer photo of the color. I think it pretty much looks aqua here. But it’s not!

Next, take a little square of sandpaper, and distress the edges – or anything you want distressed. This party is scary, but it’ll look great once it’s all finished. Promise. I love the character that a little bit of distressing adds.

543987_10151562491190049_1978604444_nThe next step was to add glaze. I used a Ralph Lauren glaze in tea-stained. Anyone who is friends with me on Facebook got to share in my dismay when the can showed up half spilled inside the box. It was packed really well. It seems like FedEx would have had to throw it against a wall or jump up and down on it repeatedly for this to happen, but what do I know? It was a bummer, BUT the guys I ordered it from were really great and gave me some money back, and there was plenty in the can to finish the dresser.

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I was terrified that I was going to hate it at first, but I adore the glaze. I applied a thin coat in kind of a streaky, cross-hatch pattern. Now that it’s on, you can absolutely tell the dresser is green. No more ambiguous aqua. Whew! Not that there’s anything wrong with aqua. It just isn’t the color I was going for.

Once the glaze was dry, I added a coat of Minwax Paste Finishing Wax in natural, which will hopefully protect the dresser from future mishaps with crayons and stickers. If not, I know the distressed look will hide them much better than the white did.

The last step was to spray paint the hardware bronze, put it all back together, and move the dresser back to Neely’s bedroom.

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My little girl is so funny when it comes to her room. When we put the new Princess and the Pea bedding in her room last November, she shrieked and squealed and danced all around telling me how much she loved it. This time, she snuck upstairs and started talking to the dresser. I was in the next room, so I peeked around the corner and eavesdropped, of course. She was saying, “Nice. It’s so nice. I’ve been wanting it back.” She wasn’t kidding. It took me a week to finish, and she asked me every day when she could have her dresser back. I’m glad she likes it. She’s very opinionated, so I wasn’t sure how I was going to convince her to love green if she didn’t on her own.

I love it, too. I’m eyeballing everything in the house to see what I can paint next!

For more detailed instructions on how to paint furniture using the same technique I did, please visit Altar’d Designs. I used a lot of the recommendations from their eBook, Paint Your Furniture.

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Project – Bathroom Painting

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When we moved into the house back in October, we chose gray as the color for our master bath. It’s neutral. It looked pretty good with the white walls. It was easy to find. Target had a gray shower curtain and towels that we liked, so it was done.

After looking at white and gray all winter long, inside and outside, the bathroom was feeling dreary. I enlisted the help of my Silhouette to solve the problem.

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I started by dividing a square canvas into quarters. I used charcoal to draw the lines. It’s easy to wipe them off with a damp cloth after you have the pattern taped off. Once I had the frog tape on in a chevron pattern, I wiped off the lines in between the stripes before painting. I chose yellow paint for the chevrom, because I love yellow and gray together.

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I used my Silhouette and contact paper to make a stencil for the lettering. This font is called “Pharmacy.” You can get it for free at dafont.com. I used two coats of paint for the letters. I wanted to be sure they were dark enough. I had to do a little bit of touching up once I removed the contact paper, where the paint bled under the stencil.

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I added these hammer-in sawtooth hangers on either side to hang it. Easy peasy.

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Yes, I know that the “and” is a little crooked, and no, I don’t care. It doesn’t have to be perfect. I love it anyway.

And now, I will leave you with the inspiration. You have my husband to thank for this. He used to do the dance from this video all the time. 🙂

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Project – Reusable Cloth Napkins

I have recently realized that each time we move, I go through a cycle. When the boxes arrive at our new house, we spend about a month unpacking, organizing, and arranging things. Once the house is habitable, I quit. For about six months. Then, finally, I begin to nest and make the house mine.

That’s where I am now. We’ve been in this house since October, and I’ve finally spent enough time in it to recognize what needs to change and what needs to be finished. I have an ever-growing list of Pinterest projects I want to try. I’ll take it one day at a time and see which ones I can make work for this house.

My first project? Napkins!

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A few weeks ago, I stumbled upon a photo of some mismatched cloth napkins on the interwebs. For some reason, napkins are one of those random things that I always forget to buy, but I usually have them left over from a party of some kind. Anyway, I’m not so big on the mismatched part, but cloth napkins are something I thought we could give a try.

Before we moved, I had a business making children’s clothes, so I have a gigantenormous stash of fabric that I was able to go through for material.

I began by cutting 17-inch squares of each of my chosen fabrics. You can make these smaller or larger, depending on your preference. We’re not going to be folding swans around here, so I didn’t need them too huge.

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Next, pin the edges for a double hem. You’ll need an iron for this. And lots of pins.

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On to the corners! I tried two different ways. I’ll show you both, and you can decide which you think is best.

For the first, start with both edges pressed under once.

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Next, take the corner, fold it in toward the middle of the napkin, and press it down.

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Once you’ve done that, you’ll fold each edge in toward the corner, press it, and pin them down.

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The other way to do the corners is just to continue the double hem all the way around, pressing the corners down square.

Of the two options, I prefer the first. It takes a little more time to get them ready, but the folds aren’t quite as thick. My machine got hung up on the corners on all the napkins I did using this second method.

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Once you’ve got everything pinned up, you’re ready to run a straight stitch around the edges of all your napkins.

Did you run out of pins? I almost did. I need a bigger pincushion.

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There you go. Cloth napkins – ready to wipe milk mustaches, tacos, chocolate chip cookies, or whatever messy foods your family likes to eat.

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Family – Birthday Celebration

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You might have heard that we celebrated a birthday around here yesterday. All those sprinkles? They’re for the boy’s cake. I recently ran across this Rainbow Sprinkle Cake on Pinterest. I talk about it enough. If you want to find me on Pinterest, go here. It’s a fun place to be friends. 🙂

I will preface all of the coming pictures with this disclaimer:  I am not a baker. Usually, I serve cupcakes at my kids’ birthday parties. I have become a master of fancying up boxed cake mix with some pretty fantastic homemade frosting. Cupcakes and kids go really well together. You don’t have to worry about how good (or bad) you are at cutting cake. There’s no frustration over who gets the corner, the flower, the biggest piece. You don’t have to deal with a line of anxious kids waiting for their slice. You just pass out cupcakes. It all happens very quickly. Everyone is happy.

For the first time ever, we didn’t have a big party. Two months ago, when it normally would have been time to start thinking and planning the party, I just couldn’t get into it. I usually love throwing the kids’ parties, but for some reason, I didn’t feel like it. It may have been divine providence. Looking back at how February turned out, planning a party probably would have pushed me over the edge.

I won’t lie and tell you that I’m not battling a lot of mommy-guilt over the fact that I didn’t give Aidan a party, because I am. What I will tell you is that it turned out just fine. The boy is happy. And I’m sure this won’t be the last time I feel guilty over a parenting decision.

Instead of a big party, my parents came to visit, we had Aidan’s favorite (tacos) for dinner, and for the first time in his life, I made my son a cake.

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Ta-da! That is a lot of sprinkles. Aidan thought his cake was awesome, and I’m pretty proud of the way it turned out, too. The funniest part is cutting into the thing and hearing the “Ping! Ping!” of little sprinkles everywhere. We’ll be finding them in this house for months to come.

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I even got a little crazy with the inside. The original had six layers of rainbow colors inside. I went with four layers, in blue and green. Ooh…

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It was yummy!

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Here’s one of me and my boy. He’s come to the age where he runs from me and acts like he doesn’t want to be loved on. It’s fun to catch him and force him into it from time to time. Especially now that I can see he’s smiling anyway.

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Around here, everyone gets into opening presents, even the Hank dog. And Pop’s foot.

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