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Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Maken' Flakes

3D Snowflakes!!!
How gorgeous are these!  Now this is a CopyCat to the mega-th degree.  Not only did I not invent them, I did not even make them. 
My darling friend Deb made them and had them hanging in her beautifully decorated home Christmas Eve.  We were invited over for the best Christmas Eve dinner I have ever had (sorry Grandma :0)
Deb's hubby is a professional chef and made ham, prime rib, and my personal favorite-LAMB (luckily I took a bit before I asked what it was-once I tasted it there was no stopping :0)

Once we finished with dinner *ug-STUFFED*
Deb's daughter showed Madison how to make them while I chased Emmalee away from the bunny's food outside :0) 

Apparently you can just google "3D snowflakes" and get a whole host of tutorials.  This was the first I found at WikiHow.  It had so many photos I didn't bother looking further.   

While I didn't make these, I think if a couple of kids can do such a LOVELY job, you and I should give it a try :0) 

Wouldn't they be perfect in a classroom all across the ceiling, or maybe at your New Years Eve party?  I am going to make them for my archway from the living room and leave them up all of January.  It will be the most snow Phoenix has seen in years :0)

Monday, December 27, 2010

How to Attach Charms to Ponytail Holders

I needed to show one of my designers how I attach charms to ponytail holders so I figured I might as well show you all. 

First, run a line of hot glue down the back of your charm.  Be sure you placed your charm with the top right side up before you glue.  It will matter when the pony goes into the hair.  Sometimes I like to angle the charm so I place it very carefully in order to ensure the charm is turned the right direction when I am finished.

Next, lay the ponytail holder on top of the glue and add another dab of glue on top.

Then I grab a piece of ribbon, about 1 ¼ to 1 1/2” long.  I place the bottom portion on the glue and squish them together.  Be careful because extra glue will probably come out the sides of the ribbon.  Don’t burn yourself!!!

*side note*  When I do burn myself, really bad, I grab my Mineral Essence from Young Living Essential Oils.  I bought my bottle in 1998.  We still have half a bottle.  My husband used to work for the company in their building department.  While I am not a crazy-passionate herbalist in the least, this stuff is MAGIC for burns!  No matter what the criminal, the oven, curling iron, lighter :0), or hot glue to the point of blisters, I put a few drops of this stuff on the burn, let it sit a minute or two, then wash it off.  It takes the pain away.  I think the idea behind the stuff is that it puts the minerals back into your skin that the heat took out.  Regardless, the burn is pain-free, while the burns I forget to medicate, can hurt for days.  Give it a try:0)  I found it online at a couple stores by googling "young living mineral essence".  *side note from that* a burn on your tongue can be cured by dabbing with vanilla extract!  It need not be pure vanilla.  Magical moment number 2!  Take a bite of soup or sip of cocoa before you realized just how hot it was?  I am terrible.  I stick my finger in the bottle of extract, then dab it on my tongue.  Good, less disgusting people could probably pour some into a spoon or something.  I say why add to the pile of dishes!?!  After dabbing I try not to swallow or close my mouth :0)  For as long as I make it, that is as much time it takes for the vanilla to work.  As with the mineral essence, when I forgot to dab the pain/taste bud damage has lasted for days, where the time was only a few hours when the stuff is applied!

Enough of the crazy antidotes, back to the subject :0)
Push the top half of the ribbon into the glue.  I like to kind of push the ribbon up under the elastic.  It makes me feel like the whole thing will stay longer.  Probably just wishful thinking, but works for me :0)

When you are done you will have something like this.  You may need to cut the ribbon down at this point. 

Sometimes my glue is a bit messy and maybe I didn't heat-seal the ribbon before gluing onto the charm, so I take a lighter and burn the edges of the ribbon, also melting any glue that looks messy.  This step is only for the fire-savy so kids, don't try this at home!  It is also particularly tricky with felt which melts at a surprisingly quick rate.  It does work like a charm with my wood charms though!  One option, if you didn't heat-seal your ribbon ends and they didn't get buried in glue, is to dab on some FrayCheck (sold at your local craft store).  It will keep the ribbon from fraying without ever touching a flame!

There you have it.  Quite quick and easy to do. 

Now, occasionally I have to mount something that is quite thin.  Here is how I do that...
Same supplies, ponytail holder, ribbon about 1 1/4", and your charm.

Dab hot glue on half the ribbon, lay the pony on top.

Roll the ribbon up around the elastic.  Dab more hot glue on the end.  I heat-sealed this end before dabbing with glue.  Press closed.

Add another dab of hot glue on top of the seam you just closed.

Add your charm, let the glue cool and you are ready to go!  This technique is sturdy, but I would still be careful when possible.  To use the ponytail holder, grab your bunch of hair, place the charm at the spot on the ponytail you want it to sit, then wrap the rest of the elastic around the pony as you usually would-holding the charm in place.  The glue is only so strong.  If you pull on the charm on a regular basis it will eventually come off :0) 

I bribed my model with marshmallows to get this picture :0)
Shoe-in for Mother of the Year!

That is your How-to-attach-a-skinny-charm in a nutshell.  Let me know if you have any questions!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Holiday Baking :0)

I finally finished my holiday baking for this year!  Here are a few of my favorite recipes. 








Peppermint Brownies-brownies with my secret mint fudge frosting
(sweetened condensed milk, 1/4c. butter and a package of mint chips)
covered with crushed candy canes









I just found this recipe.  I think I need to try these next year DoubleTruffles


I made 40 plates of goodies.  You would think that 40 plates would be more than enough, but after Scott pulled out his list, it wasn't nearly enough.  Sadly we ended up drawing names. 
Out of town?  You're off the list.  Live too far away or your house embedded too far into a twisty neighborhood?  We will be pulling for you next year :0)
 Nut allergies?  I am still thinking...same for you "gluten-free" gurus. 
I am leaning toward almond bark popcorn, but not sure that is nut free or gluten free...
I will keep you posted.

Happy Holiday baking if you haven't already finished yours!


Monday, December 20, 2010

Nativity Centerpieces

Ta-dah!  Here are the nativity centerpieces I finally settled on for our church Christmas party this year.  I tried a couple other options and just didn't like them.  I made this cute little guy up myself.  I traced my manger/baby pattern onto 2" wood, the hay onto 1/4" wood.  I went ahead and used the lame plywood I have been storing and hating for a couple months.  I figured this was just the right project to use it for since hay is rather rustic and full of lines like the dumb plywood.  Can you tell I am having hard feelings against the poor lumber.  I am really struggling finding good materials around here...but that is a soapbox for another day.   
As simple as this project should have been *that's right, here it comes* it turned into a nightmare on the eve of the party.  Bright and early Friday morning I went out into my garage to start cutting.  I cut all the wood into blocks, then traced the patterns.  Sadly, when I tried to cut one manger out, I came to the conclusion that my band saw blade was simply too warn out to use even one more time.  I had to stop then anyway with children up and stir-crazy. 

Later in the day I attempted again.  I searched high and low until I found where my hubby put the instruction manual.  Somehow I managed to take the blade of the bicycle -y contraption known as my band saw.  I grabbed the back-up blade I purchased when I bought the machine, the very blade the sales person assured my was for my saw.  Once I ripped open the package I swiftly discovered that the blade was only 10" too long.  My saw calls for a 70" blade and this one was an 80" blade :0}  *breath*  Never mind that I don't have a car during the day and that my husband has been working into the night since our trip to California making going to the store impossible.  No, we will not panic...will not...we can do this.  Again, somehow, I got the old blade back on the machine and attempted to cut again. It was really bad this time. I took the old blade off and called my husband. This call, needless to say, involved a little voice raising and, perhaps, a tear or two*have I mentioned that I haven't slept since August ;0)

Also not working for me was my vitally important sanding disc.  You see, all the big-box chain hardware stores carry sanding discs in 5" and 7" sizes.  My disc sander is OF COURSE NOT one of those sizes!!!  It is 12" making it impossible to run to the store and pick one up!!!  I spent half the day trying to figure out what a store that carried them would label themselves so I could find them on Google, the other half finding out that they all close at 5pm :op

I will spare you some of the trauma. One dear soul, thanks Leonard, came over and helped us after 2 hours of trying to install the new band saw blade my husband left work early to go buy.   Then he let my husband come over and cut half of the wood on his own saw while I cut the rest at home.  We ran all of the mangers through his sander and headed home where 3 sweet friends of mine were waiting to help paint.  They stayed til midnight.  Aren't midnight friends the best!

I went to bed very sad that some of my baby Jesus' still had rough spots on their faces even though they took a ride through the worst face scraping any of us has ever seen :0)  Sat. morning I shot up out of bed, renewed in my desire to make this work.  I dragged my Hubby with me all the way, something like 35 miles away, to north Peoria to a woodworking store in hope that the sanding disc soon would be there...It was!!!  Scott installed it before he left for work...that was when I really kicked into gear.  I took each one of my 30 centerpieces and re-sanded their tiny faces.  I touched up any rough spots on the curve of their heads too.  Sanding them all meant that I had to re-paint, but at least I could admit that I made them :0)  My friends all know I am an obsessive-compulsive nut, right?
I didn't worry about re-sanding the manger part...it's a manger!  It is supposed to be rough!
  
Once painted...again...I blushed the cheeks, dabbed the eyes with paint on the end of a paintbrush, and glued on the hay.  Did I mention that I made these guys 2-sided?  I did.  If they were going to be in the middle of the table, someone was bound to be facing the back.  I drilled a small hole in the side and stuck the wire-wrapped star in there.  I really wanted to glue on a small heart right where the baby's heart would have been, but in all the madness of cleaning my house for bunco I forgot where I put them :0)  I am not ashamed to tell you how bad I am.  It is bound to make someone out there feel better.
Anyway, with not heart I settled for the holly.  Not the best, but better than nothing.

With a few moments to spare I went ahead and made this sign to sit there on the table too. I needed something with a little color so we painted the blocks red. 
As usual, I couldn't decide on the saying.  That is why half said "Silent Night" and half said "Unto us a child is born"  I bought a digital kit to make the signs.  The digital kit came from Pickleberrypop.  I searched "Nativity" and found it for $3.50.  Now, of course, it is only $1.50 :0) 
Well, it seems the centerpieces were a hit.  That or everyone lied to me :0)  And can you believe it, we were able to find homes for each and everyone of our wooden babies after the party!  30 mangers-with-child that didn't get turned away into the cold with nowhere to be but a barn :0)
Merry Christmas Everyone!!!  Mine is a little merrier now that this project is finished, but it was actually rather fun to make.  Thanks again to all the friends that helped.  I couldn't have done it without you!
Especially you Scott XOXOXO
The things that man puts up with...

Friday, December 17, 2010

For the Best Teacher I "Snow"

By now you know that I over-book myself so detrimentally that I have no choice but do things as needed, and inevitably, just before they are needed :0)  No time for procrastination. 
With one day of school left before Christmas Break, I put this guy together after bunco last night.  It didn't take long.  I had the wood cut, holes drilled, and the whole thing painted.  All that was left was to put this snowy guy together.

I went with drilling holes and wiring my wooden snowballs together rather than glue.  I was sure the glue wouldn't hold and Mr. Snowman would come to pieces if dropped.  By the way, this is the only way to build a snowman in Phoenix.  I don't think Emmalee has ever seen snow :0)

I gave up on blushing cheeks with paint years ago.  I use REAL BLUSH!!!  Sometimes I use an applicator, a regular one you would use on your own face, sometimes I just use my finger.  Load up whatever you are using, and rub it on.  I start in the center and work my way out, blending it in as I go.  You can use spray varnish, but I have even used brush-on varnish and the blush stays in place.  I have even skipped the varnish all together and not had a problem with the blush coming off. 

The eyes were made by dabbing the end of a brush in paint then dabbing the painted brush end on the head.  I used a  fine tipped sharpie for the eyebrows and a regular sharpie for the mouth.   

Once all the appendages were glued in place we had quite a handsome fellow!  I decided to cut out arms since we don't have normal trees here in Arizona either.  The branches are green.  Green arms for my snowman???  I don't think so!

We included a card that said, "For the Best Teacher I "Snow"".
And she is fabulous!  She deserves a million dollars with all she puts up with in the classroom.  
 I hope she likes my snowman.  I don't have a million dollars :0) 

Thursday, December 16, 2010

We Believe!!!

Man do I have a story for you!  First, here is my big Christmas project for this year.  I have 11, soon to be 12 pictures of my kids with Santa.  I only had about 5 of them in frames.  I got the idea to do this wall collage (my husband would call it a shrine :0) when I saw the "We Believe" sign and I was off on a mission to display! 

OK, the story...so when my husband and I were dating (and planning to marry) I had to work right up until Christmas.  Scott's mom insisted that I take the shuttle from college down to where they lived (4 hour trip) to spend Christmas with them.  Somehow I managed it.  Little did I know that I would be dragged to the mall and forced to sit on Santa's lap !!!!  At 19 it was a little more than a little embarrassing.  I was appalled!  But like the good little girlfriend, I did it (it still makes me blush thinking about it :0)

The next Christmas, having been married for 6 months, 4 months pregnant, I was once again dragged to the mall!!!  I SWORE, First, I would never sit on Santa's lap once I had a child to go in my place, and Second, would NEVER make my children do this when they are clearly too old!  The first 4-5 years of standing in that ridiculous line at the mall with my tired and often crying children went by painfully.  After that, we kind of just did it because we didn't want to be missing a year.  
I will tell you, this year-year 11, it has finally clicked! 

I don't know if it is because my babies featured in many of these pictures are getting so old I don't even remember them at kid age, or if I am so old that sensible parts of my brain are rotting at alarming rates, but I LOVE my Santa pictures!  To see all those chubby cheeks and smiling faces beaming with hope and excitement warms my heart and brings tears to my eyes.

I decided it was time to finally display them proudly.
First thing, I needed more frames!

I ran to Goodwill Tuesday and found a few.  I only bought frames that were interesting and less than $2.  I figured I could buy new ones at Walmart for $3 so why spend more, right?  

I took them out back, spray painted them black (you can do that in Arizona in December :0), then painted them red, green and blue with acrylic paint.  When they were dry I sanded them a bit and brushed on some varnish.  There!  I LOVE IT!!!

I saw some vinyl signs like this "We Believe" sign last week and was instantly inspired.  I called my darling friend Bobbie, who happens to be moving this week -I know, WORST FRIEND EVER (me), BEST FRIEND EVER (her)- and begged her to cut the vinyl for me. I told her if she would just cut it out, I would do all the picking and transferring. It was SO WORTH IT!!!

I cut a 1x10 to size, poked it with my ale, banged it up with a hammer, and sprayed it black.  When that was dry I painted it red, waited to dry and sanded roughly on edges and spots on the face of the board.  I wiped the dust off, let it dry again and applied the vinyl.  The board looked too ordinary so, you'll never believe, I grabbed my distressing ink-yep, the kind for cards and scrapbooking-and rubbed it all over the edges and over the vinyl.  I wanted that worn, old look.  That did the trick!  I took a kleenex and rubbed the ink off the middles of the letters.  It really looked old and antiqued.  The only problem was that when I brushed the varnish on ink was spread across the vinyl.  It didn't look bad, but it did undo the whole inking process I had just gone through.  My recommendation, brush the varnish on, then apply the vinyl, then maybe spray with spray varnish-but only lightly and with the sign laying down.  Once you have done a light coat or two of the spray varnish, you can apply a heavier coat to really seal it in. 
 
This frame was my very favorite!  I LOVE IT!!!  I think it is also my favorite picture.  It was last year.  I don't know if it is because all three of my kids are in it or what, but I just can't get enough :0)

So, maybe I will be that mother-in-law that makes her married children go to see Santa :0)  I swore I would never put my kids (or their significant others) through that...but who is keeping track anyway.  I just love to look at these pictures and remember that moment in their lives when all was magical and exciting, back when they loved everything and every moment...when they were so completely full of hope.  I love it.

Favorite Christmas Project Ever