Sunday, July 31, 2011

Spruce Up Your Lunch

Eli came in tonight begging me to pull up the Phineas and Ferb sandwiches I pinned on Pintrest the other day. Through a series of clicks, I ended up at the maker's own site.  Susan Yuen is the author of the blog  Hawai`i's Bento Box Cookbook, Bentos and More for Kids.

Not only does she have Phineas and Ferb, but she has Perry the Platypus, and just about everyone else from the well loved kids show.  Thank you Susan.  You have just raised the school lunch bar just a little too high for comfort :0)
My kids are going to a new charter school this year and now expect me to make these for them!

When you get the chance, check out her site.  You will find many more designs.  Here are a few that caught my eye... 
Surfer dude...we can eat these in our tiki bathroom, aye?

Packman.  I think we can make this for Dad, for two reasons really.  One- because it is awesome, and two- because the guys in the lunchroom would never let him live it down!  

So cute.  This one is for Emmalee.  She is obsessed with pink...and flowers...and cute.  Yep, totally Emmalee.

This one is for Madison.  She hates sandwiches.  I think she would love a riceball instead...especially if it stares back up at her with a cute little smiley face.  She better not hold her breath for oven baked chicken wings though.  Mom doesn't love her THAT much :0)

I am relieved to know that they actually sell punches for the cute little faces she makes.  How cute!
I just might be able to pop out a rice ball face or two after all! They are called Nori Punches and can be purchased HERE and HERE, among other places.

Susan authored this book...

and this book.  
You can buy them and start creating with food for your cute little school-bound babes today!!!  
Wish my kids luck.  I haven't decided if they are that privileged yet :0)

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Pictures and Ramblings

Since I spent the second half of this week working on clippies, and my entire {very small} bucket of energy today on cleaning my garage with the temperature around 106 {talk about sweating bullets} I thought I would show you some of the photos I shot of my sister while on vacation.  My cute little sister, the very littlest of all my sisters, is going to be a senior this year.  She needed photos for her yearbook, but being so painfully shy as she is, she didn't want to go to the regular guy.  We lucked out that our vacation landed us in town the very week she needed the pictures done.  She may regret asking me to take them now that I have shared them with the world, but can you blame me!?!  She is so stinken' cute!  

Every time I go out taking photos I learn a little more.  Usually not until I get back home and try to crop and edit them, but at least I do learn :0)

One HUGE issue I had, remember that I haven't had my camera too long, was that the thumbnail of photos taken spontaneously changed from full screen to a little thumbnail that was about 1" big.  I couldn't see anything in that tiny picture, and I couldn't figure out how to change it back, so I didn't look at it very often.  Big Mistake!  One thing I would have noticed was that my aperture was way to wide for taking photos in full sun.  I ended up with a couple pictures looking like they were in a total snow storm.  This picture was one of them: 
With my photoshop program I was able to rescue the image a little bit, but I am still very sad that I didn't check the view finder more often to make sure the pictures were taking correctly.  Or maybe that I didn't know how to change my thumbnail to a bigger size.  Somehow, magically, it returned to normal the next day :0)    Wouldn't you know it would happen that way!

Another thing I have found is that it is important to take some photos from farther back, catching some of the scene, but make sure to take many different angles up closer to make sure you get the clearer image you are  looking for.  I am finding that the best split-second shots I am getting are when I am farther back.  When I crop them in, the image isn't as clear.  That is the other thing I want to work on right now. 

Sister likes horses so we drove around looking for a farm with photogenic horses.  I thought we had it here, but apparently the horses and I had different opinions about which end was more photogenic.  I teases little sis about the fact her photos would be full of horse butts.  I had to throw this one in the line-up!

 Photography is kind of an illusive concept to me.  I haven't really gotten what makes you good just yet.  It causes stress to a perfectionist.  I like to know the right way to do everything.  I will read 4+ tutorials before attempting a small project so that I get a general consensus on what the "right way" is to make it.  With photography, you can't really read about how to be good.  You have to get the basic understanding of how your camera works, but you just have to get out there and exercise the good old trial-and-error method of learning.  My third are of improvement is to move around a little bit more.  I have been surprised at what a different angle can do to a photo.  
It is all so fun.   I have said it before and I will say it again, I have so very much to learn.  Win or lose, I am having a lot of fun just giving this whole photography thing a try.  

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Family Is Everything Board

Well, we are going big this year with Super Saturday :0)
This fabulous board will be one of our projects.  I saw it on a blog someone emailed me last year.  I earmarked the site to come back to because I loved this magnet board so very much.
Now, when I tell you it's big...I mean it!  I personally don't care because I have been wanting a large board to hang all those photos you normally throw on the fridge, but even I am now trying to figure out where exactly to hang it.  Before I start moving furniture, let me give you the 4-1-1 on the project.

We are cutting the board from 1/2" MDF.  It was decided that sawtooth picture hangers will be part of the deal since people never know how to go about hanging these kinds of things.
The current measurements are 42" long and 12" high.  The metal is 40" long and 8" high.
Some concern was voiced about how big he is.  I am now debating about making it smaller and offering only that size, offering two sizes, or only offering the big one...or maybe we will just hold off until next year because I can't make up my mind about which project to cut from our very long list.  Whatever is decided, I am fine.  
I already have mine :0}
The smaller sign would measure 32" x 12" and the metal will be cut to 30x8".  Ugggh.  Decisions, decisions.  

As for putting the project together, it should be rather simple.  Paint the whole thing black, let it dry, apply E6000 glue to the back of the metal.  That glue specifies that you press the metal into place, squish it down all over, then take it off and let the glue cure for 2-10 minutes.  I am so very impatient and can never wait the 10 minutes {unless in need of a potty break}.  I usually give the curing 2 minutes and then press the metal back in place.  Once that is done, apply the vinyl and you are finished!  The magnets are not part of the deal.  I totally love them, but daisies are spring flowers and guess what?  They don't sell them any more!  I was at Michaels and went to grab another of their $1.99 bushes of white daisies...No more!  What, do you ask, was in their place?  Christmas Village stuff!!!!  Yep.  In July!
I think Hobby Lobby sells the daises year round, but again, I don't care because I have mine :0)
How is that for insensitive?
Anyway, Super Saturday Project Idea number 5, Family Is Everything.  Don't you just love that quote!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Menu Board

Don't you love the new Menu and Dishes boards!  I saw the darling idea after a friend sent me a link to Melissa's post at TheInspiredRoom.  She had painted the side of a kitchen hutch with chalkboard paint and made it a menu board.  I totally loved the idea naturally, but had to think what would work best if you didn't have the side of a hutch to paint.  I finally decided a simply 1/4" board would be great for a chalkboard menu.  I was a little concerned about it moving around a lot when you erase or whatnot.  That was when I decided it needed holes drilled in the corners to be mounted directly to the wall, rather than sawtooth picture hangers on the back or the board being hung with a ribbon.  

After our recent dish disaster I told Bobbi, my vinyl lady :0) that I had to make a smaller board to be hung right next to the sink that said "Dishes" to keep track of who's day it was to suds the pile of crusty plates.

What's that?  I didn't tell you about my Dish Disaster???
Well, about 2 days before my friend Wendi came to visit me with her 6 kids and husband, my dishwasher broke completely :-O  Could it be!?!  8 more people, plus our 5, using dishes all day and no dishwasher (electrical one anyway)!!!  I stayed on top of things ok during the week, but the repairman did not come while we were gone on vacation, and still not after we came back.  You should understand that a lot of the newer houses around here come with "Home Warranties."  That means that when you thing breaks, like your dish washer or garage door opener (yep, we have broken that before too), the warranty company sends a repairman out to fix it, rather than replace it.  Usually the repair would be more expensive than the unit being replaced, but since it works kind of like insurance, you only pay a co-pay and the rest of the balance is tossed out into the atmosphere to be burned up by the sun...or something like that.
Finally, last Saturday I decided I was sick of doing dishes by hand and would not do another dish!  Hah!  Eat that, you horrible home warranty company!  Only problem was I forgot to tell them that I was on dishwashing strike.  Apparently they didn't really care, if they knew that is :0)
So, as I crafted my little Super Saturday fingers to the bone, the dishes piled up.  
Yep.  They piled...  
and piled...
and piled up
At least we still rinsed them.  I must say that.  We weren't totally unsanitary :-O

 The repairman came on Monday and said it needed to be replaced, but we had to wait for everything to go through.....  Finally Thursday I threw in the towel.  We literally had not one cup in the cupboard nor fork in the drawer.  My real hope was that the dishwasher would have been in the repairman's truck and he would just take this one with him when he left back on Monday.  Since each of the following 4 days no progress was made, I hung my head in utter hopelessness and started washing dishes.  4 hours and a very sore shoulder later, the dishes were done and I decided I didn't need to wash another dish the rest of the week.  

Cue family dish chart....
The boards were painted with 2 or 3 coats of black chalkboard paint.  Now, if you have never used the stuff, it dries about as fast as...I don't know.  My mind has already gone to bed.  You will just have to know that it never dries.  I live in a VERY dry state.  After 2 hours the board was still wet in spots.  After over night, it was still a little tacky.  Plan on 2 days to get things really dry.  

As for dimensions, the big board is 16x40" and the little one is 9" side by 24" long.  
Home Depot sells 1/4" MDF Handy Panels (24x48") for about $5.  Again, you can probably get the guy at Home Depot to cut the board down for you with a wink and a smile :0)

I went with 1/4" because I didn't want the board to be heavy and it was going to be a big board.  The 1/4" seems like it will be sturdy and light.  
You will only get one menu board out of the handy panel, but you can get up to 5 of the little ones out of the same board, just so you know.

Anyway, I primed my boards with brush on primer, but the spray paint kind works just as well.
Apply one coat of the chalkboard paint and let dry about 2 hours.  Apply another coat and let dry overnight or longer :0)  
When the paint is completely dry, apply the vinyl.  I put the word on at the top, then figured out how many more inches were left on the board.  Take that number and divide it by 7.  That is how much space you have for each circle monogram letter.  Use a ruler, or three rulers like me :0) and put your vinyl letter in the middle of the allotted space.

Now, before you use the chalkboard, you need to prime it.  I had forgotten that this step existed.  You prim the chalkboard by rubbing a stick of chalk sideways on the board.

Cover as much of the board as possible.  It would be easier if the vinyl weren't there, but I was worried it wouldn't stick if I primed the board first, and then applied the vinyl.

Now use a piece of felt to rub all the chalk off.
Consider yourself primed!

I think I can do a better job than that.  I am holding a box of colored chalk!  Hold on...

There!  I like that better.  It almost insinuates that dishes are going to be FUN on your assigned day :0D

And here are Mom's finished dishes!  
See, the board is working already.

After Super Saturday is over and I no longer need my board as a sample, it will live here.

There you have Super Saturday Idea number 4.
I have to say it is one of my favorites.  
Oh!  I forgot to mention that we will offer three word strip choices for the top of the board:
Menu, Dishes, and To Do, in case you want to use the board more like a weekly calendar or message board (or in case you don't really cook :0)

More Super Saturday ideas coming soon!!!

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Groceries, Check!

Groceries, Check!  Got em' :0)
I wasn't sure if I could get these guys posted today.  Luckily, I had to wait up for Madison to get home from babysitting sooooo time I had!
Here are my wooden play food pieces, FINISHED!

I used the labels I posted the other day HERE.
You can download them HERE with Dropbox.

  I cut a pile of scrap wood into blocks and used modge podge to apply the labels.  I went to put the labels on last night and realized that I was OUT OF MODGE PODGE!!!  You know, I don't think that has ever happened to me before!  I am sure that I have just forgotten where I decided to store it.  Whatever.  I took that as my sign to go to bed, but went to the store first thing this morning to buy some more. I will tell you, I tried a new kind this time.  Here is the one...
I figured that it would be better for the high use and rough kind of play this wooden play food will get.  If you don't have it, I wouldn't worry.  Just apply a few extra coats of regular mogde podge or polyurethane and you will be good.  
One thing you should know about this hard coat modge podge, you have to let it cure for 4 WEEKS!  What! Can't play with this food for 4 weeks!?!  It isn't a problem for me because my set will be on display for the next month and not being played with.  For anyone else, it probably won't work.  Honestly, I would probably use regular modge podge to attach the labels and for the first top coat, then use regular polyurethane as the top coat, in 2-3 applications for durability.

OK, now for the cut list I promised.  I will give you the complete cut list in a hand-to-the-guy format you can take, with that plate of cookies mentioned earlier, to the Home Depot guy {or your dear Hubby}.  I have also listed each piece separately below so you know which block goes with each label.

Cut List
1x4:  2@2 1/2"
1x6:  1@5 1/2"
2x3:  1@6"
2x4: 1@1 3/8"
        1@3 1/4"
        1@4 1/8" 
        1@4 1/4"
        1@4 3/4"

Shaped pieces (if you have someone to cut them):
2x4:  1@4 1/4"
         1@5 1/4"
2x6:  1@6 1/2

Amount of wood you will need

This means that you will need this many inches of the following boards (I add an inch for good measure.  Watch for knots in your board because it will equal lost inches and you will need more wood than I have listed):
1x4: 5-6"
1x6: 6"
2x3: 6"
2x4: 28-30", basically 2 1/2 feet

If you are doing all the pieces, including the shaped bottles and cartons use this list instead:
1x4: 5-6"
1x6: 6"
2x3: 6"
2x4: 42", basically 4 feet
2x6:  7"

Now to match the sizes with the pieces:

1x4- 2 1/2"x's 2{Frozen Veggies}
1x6- 5 1/2" {Pizza}
2x3- 6"{Spaghetti}
2x4- 1 3/8"{Butter}, 3 1/4"{Oreo}, 4"x's 3{Lasagna, Goodfish, and Chips-oh-Boy}, 4 1/8"{Waffles}, 4 1/4 {Chicken Nuggets}, 4 3/4"{Cereal} 5"{Mac-n-cheese}

Then there are the shaped pieces.  You will need more advanced tools to make or know someone who whittles :0)  You could always take up whittling yourself!  I didn't put those patterns in the post, but if you would like them, just shoot me an email and I will get them for you.  
Here are the wood cuts you will need for the Milk carton, the egg carton, the ketchup, ranch and mustard:
2x4- 5 1/4"{Ketchup}, 5"{Ranch}, 5"{Eggs}, and 4 1/4{Mustard}
2x6- 6 1/2{Milk}

*Now, let me tell you a secret about getting just a little wood.  Back in the back of the store (Home Depot at least) they sell smaller portions of lumber for something crazy like $.50 a piece.  I have purchased pieces of a board that should have been $10 for $.50 out of the, and here is what they call it, cull lumber cart.  You could very easily find all the wood I have listed for $.50 each board making your total cost $2 for the wood.  Think if you know anyone that woodworks too.  They probably have half of what you are looking for just sitting around begging to be used.*

Paint List
These are the paints I used on the wooden blocks before attaching the labels.  Please remember than they were simply paint colors I had on hand that happened to work.  There are many choices that will also work if you don't have the exact colors I used.  Your best bet is to get the labels printed and then color match to them directly.

Red- Americana- Tomato Red
Yellow{waffles and butter}-Delta- Young Wheat or Pale Yellow
Yellow{Mustard bottle}- Micheals brand (Craft smart)- Mustard Yellow
White- Delta brand- Light Ivory
Blue- Americana-Navy Blue
Green- Delta- Green or Medium Foliage Green

Make sure your paint is totally dry before modge podging the labels on.  It would be terrible if the paint smudged all over the labels.

For Super Saturday we will be doing all of the food, except for the shaped pieces.  I figure they will take too much time and I can't get a smooth enough cut without the proper routing tools to guarantee a quality product.  That said, I figure the wood to cost about $1.50.  When I add in the cost of the color copies on cardstock for the labels, plus the paint,  modge podge, brushes, and plastic for the table, I think this project will come in between $5 and $6.  Not bad!  

Here are the pieces of wooden food up close... 
Frozen veggies.  I actually got the Green Giant image from a photo taken of the Jolly Green Giant statue in Blue Earth, Minnesota.   I used my scrapbook program to rubber stamp the image in green.  I opted to paint the block green, but a light blue would work well also.

The Goodfish lable didn't end up as orange as I thought it would.  It ended up more red.  I painted the cracker box red and the cookies blue. 

The Lucky Farms cereal was so fun to make.  I learned a ton about my program, Storybook Creator Plus 3.0 I have had for almost 2 years now.  It can do things I never even realized, like adding gradient color to any image, font, or background.  You should check it out.  It can be downloaded right on to your computer without any waiting for it to come in the mail.  I really couldn't live without it.  It's awesome! 

Hopefully my crazy label names/changes aren't too cheezy.  It was kind of fun to play around with them.
This block was painted with the navy blue paint.

All the labels were modeled after actual name brand boxes.  My hope was that they would add to the kids excitement and imagination in their play kitchens by looking real.  What I am missing is side labels, but there was no way I had time for that this week :0)  Maybe next week (te-hee).

The butter was a tricky label to put on.  I folded the label on the crease lines before putting any modge podge on the block.  Make sure to start with the center section, fold on the lines, then put it around the block to check the fit.  Next, fold the free sides down around the block, and crease label on the corners.  Make sure it fits the way you want, then apply the modge podge and smooth each segment down.  On the bottom, be sure to apply modge podge directly to the loose flap of the label that overlaps the other label edge.  You want them to stick together and putting the glue on the block of wood alone won't work with an overlap.   Make sence???  Probably not until you are actually doing it :0)  If not, email me and I can walk you through it again.

Macaroni and cheese.  What play kitchen would be complete without it.  This box is a little big, not quite to scale with the other pieces, but I was trying to make the wood cutting easy.  Plus, mac and cheese is the biggest staple in most kid's diets, right?  Why not make it bigger :0)

Aggo Waffles.  OK, so that name is a bit of a stretch.  Occasionally I ended up with a blank stare when trying to name some of this stuff.  Aggo was the best I could come up with at that moment without using the actual name.  
When you are picking your paint for this one, notice that the yellow on the label came out a little green.  You could almost go with a yellowy-green instead of yellow.  You could even skip the trauma and just paint the block red to match the top.  Your choice!

Lasagna.  Making this label made me want to eat lasagna.  Funnier still, I think the kids were watching Garfield in the other room and we all know how much he loves lasagna!  I think the whole family ended up with Lasagna on the brain. 

Funny story :0)  OK, maybe not quite funny, but it is a story... I made one set of labels, sent them to Office Max to be printed.  When I got home, the 3/8" I thought I left around the labels ended up more like 1/2" or something-ie, half the labels were too small for their blocks!  I resized them and sent them back over to be printed again.  The effort was well worth the time.  The bigger labels were perfect.  In the end though, I decided to go ahead and use the small labels on the back side of the food so it could be two-sided.  I didn't notice until I was cropping my photos that I photographed the wrong side of this box and the next.  Ooops!  When you print your labels for these two boxes they are already bigger, I promise!  That is another thing.  You may just want to print two copies and put labels on both sides of your food.  It will be worth the extra $2  I am sure of it!!!

I so love this box!  Because it is out of thinner wood than the rest, it really looks like a pizza box.  Love it.  Even if the photo I used is of a stuffed crust pizza and the brand I modeled the label after has never made a stuffed crust pizza in their lives.  Oh well.  It's looks yummy anyway, right?  I think I am getting hungry again looking at all of these photos :0)

OK, here are the shaped pieces.  This is the bottom of the egg carton.  I was very proud of myself (can you tell) that I was able to cut that on my band saw.  One day I will get back up there on that clippy horse again and buy myself a router and table.  A router can probably do that...I think?  Anyway, I am still proud of myself :oD  
I wanted to use 4x4 wood for the milk carton and cut the top like the little cartons they give the kids at school.  For the life of me I couldn't find one scrap of 4x4 in my garage.  I couldn't stomach buying a whole board when I only needed 5-6" so I decided to go for a squashed gallon jug :0)  I think the shape came out well.  Both of these, the milk and the eggs, and the ranch from below are all painted Light Ivory.

I so love these little guys!  You are looking at another crazy idea I have had in my head for months not brave enough to try it...or was it 'cause I never had a free minute to just make play food?  Whatever the case, with my new band saw I can cut 2" wood like a breeze.  The tricky part of these bottles is to get any kind of a curve on the edge.  I had to trim the corners off at crazy angles, sand them all down and like the mustard bottle lid, cut away chunks of wood to shape the lumber into bottles.  It was tough, but I did it!!!  They are just so darling!  
I really wish I could offer these at Super Saturday.  They would be so fun!  I just know that I would be cutting wood out in my 110 degree garage for weeks, not days, and I simply can't commit to that kind of project with all the others we are going to do.  Maybe we can make them for a craft club...hmmm...

Alright, there you have it.  The Wooden PlayFood project that has dominated my week.  I started four other projects today.  We shall see if I can get them all finished by Sunday when the samples are due.  Ugggh.  Wish me luck.  I will be back to show you the other ideas I came up with so check back!

If you want the original files, they can be downloaded HERE from Dropbox :0)

Novelty Print Quilt Pattern

I have had a hard time finding good quilt patterns for novelty prints the past couple times I purchased them.  I made up this pattern so tha...