Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Kid's Craft / Mommy Craft: Hot Air Balloon Mobile

Sooooo this started out as a kid's craft, but the further along I got it really became a Mommy craft :)  Depending on the ages of your kids, they may or may not be able to help with the whole process.  On Mondays and Fridays I watch two other kids for a friend - one is a 3 year old girl - Charlotte's BFF, and one is a sweet little 3 month old boy.  So I've been trying to conjure up activities for us to do, especially on rainy days like we had on Monday.  Since the girls are 3 and 2 1/2 the only part they could really help with was the finger-painting.  But that was great fun. 
So here's how you and your kiddos can make your own hot air balloon mobile!

Supplies for one mobile:
2 pieces of white cardstock
1 piece of colored cardstock  
finger paint
yarn or string
2 long, thin dowels or skewers (I just cut the pointy ends off)
hole punch
stapler, tape.....glue possibly

Step 1:  Cut the pieces of cardstock in half, so you have four pieces 8.5" x 5.5" inches.  Finger paint both sides of all four pieces of paper.  Let them dry.

Step 2:  Cut the painted pieces of paper into 1" x 5.5" strips.  You will need 6 strips for 1 balloon.

Step 3:  Stack all 6 pieces and punch a hole through one end.  (you may have to do 3 at a time).
Step 4:  Lining up the holes, fan out the strips so they make a star shape.  Staple or tape them in the center - just don't cover the hole. 

Now bend them so that the other ends all meet - forming a sphere shape.  Tape/staple/glue/whatever to get those to stay in place.  ( I only have a tiny stapler, and it wasn't cooperating so I used tape.  If you have a large stapler I would suggest that.)

Step 5:  Make the "basket" by cutting a 1"x4" strip from your colored cardstock.  Roll it into a ring and tape in place.  Punch a hole in each side of the basket. 

Tie the string into a knot on one side of the basket.  Feed it through the balloon and tie it onto the other hole in the basket. 

Step 6:  Feed a piece string through the top hole you punched in the strips.  Use a small piece of tape to secure the string on the inside of the balloon.
Step 7:  Once you have made all the balloons you can begin to hang them on your dowels.  Cut one of the dowels in half so that you have 1 long one and 2 short ones.

{Optional step:  you can wrap the dowels in yarn - I thought it softened the look}

Hang one balloon from the center of the long dowel.  Hang a short dowel from each end of the long dowel.  From each end of the short dowels, hang one balloon.  On one of the short dowels hang the last balloon in the center. 


Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Demystifying Feng Shui

I've been wanting to write this post for a while now, ever since having a conversation with my sister about what Feng Shui is.
(pic from here - a good post about how to feng shui your bedroom)

Here's wiki's definition:  an ancient Chinese system of aesthetics believed to use the laws of both Heaven (astronomy) and Earth (geography) to help one improve life by receiving positive qi. 

The part I want to focus on is the "improving life by receiving the positive".  When applied to the home, it means that your home should be a positive place. It should make you feel positive.  Not annoyed.  Not exasperated.  Not stressed...........good luck right?  But it doesn't mean your home has to be perfectly clean.  It means your home should work for you.  Many of the aspects of Feng Shui are spiritual and claim to help you be more profitable in your money-making endeavors.  I'm not going to focus on that - the best way I know how to explain how I use Feng Shui is to give examples.  So here are several ways I have "Feng Shui'd" my home lately.

1.  The ironing board.  I was storing it in the laundry room.  Logical place in my mind.  However, every time my husband opened the door, the ironing board fell over on him.  (this never happened to me....must be his masculine muscular structure that forcefully swings the door open...)  Anyway, it bothered him.  Your home shouldn't bother you.  So I moved it.  Now it is over by my crafting area - which works well for me anyway.

2.  My sink.  In our bathroom, we have his and hers sinks.  For about 3 months now there has been a small piece of plastic in my drain that I stare at every time I brush my teeth.  It grosses me out.  Why have I left it there?  Because I am lazy.  But every time I use my sink I get an annoyed feeling.  Bad Feng Shui.  So the other day it took me about 3 seconds to reach in there with a pair of tweezers and take it out.  Now I have positive feelings instead of negative when I use my sink.

Is this starting to make sense?  You might think it seems silly - but start noticing around your house - what is annoying you?  What doesn't work for you?

3.  Last example:  Coffee.  My sister noticed that every morning she had to walk across the kitchen to get the sugar for her coffee.  And every evening she had to move the coffee beans across the kitchen to the grinder.  Not a big deal - but why not have them all together in a common place?  So she rearranged some things and now has a happy little coffee station. 

Again - not a big deal, but those little annoyances of life add up.  You should not get annoyed in your own home. There are plenty of other things to annoy you "out there".  For more information you can go here.  You can find lots of other resources by googling it - just try not to get bogged down with all of the "extra" stuff - just keep remembering YOUR HOME SHOULD WORK FOR YOU!!!! 

(pic from here)

your feng shui guru for the day,

p.s.  If you have more tips for how you feng shui, please tell us in the comments!

Monday, March 28, 2011

DIY Bunny Pencil Pouch - inspired by West Elm

I knew as soon as I saw these sweet little bunnies on West Elm, that I had to make one for Charlotte.

We are always toting around markers, pencils, crayons, etc - this makes a perfect gift.  Any little girl or boy would love to find one of these in their Easter Basket.  

You could fill it with stickers, crayons, notepad, markers, pencils, whatever!  It's pretty simple to make and should take you about an hour.

Here's what you will need:
2 buttons
embroidery floss
an old sweater (I used one that had been shrunk in the wash)
some lining fabric
printed fabric for the inside of the ears
small piece of velcro (one rough, one soft)
a pom pom for the tail
sewing machine/thread
yard stick

Step 1:  Cutting the pieces.  
Out of the sweater - cut one rectangle 6" long x 5 1/5" wide for the front
- one rectangle 8" long x 6 1/2" wide for the back
Out of the lining fabric cut one rectangle 14" long x 6 1/2' wide and
-one square 5" x 5" for the face
-cut four ears: two out of sweater material, and two out of a print
about 6" long x 1 3/4" wide at the base.  Taper them to look like ears.

Step 2:  Sew the ears right sides together.  Clip the top point flat and turn right sides out.
Now is the time to make the bunny face.  Sew two buttons on for eyes, and sew a little triangle for the nose.  I just drew a triangle with a water soluble pen and filled it in with stitches going back and forth.

Step 3:  Now it is time to assemble the face, ears, and back.  Lay the ears on the right side of the back, with the print facing up. 

Lay the face right side down on top of the ears.  Make sure all the edges are aligned, and then pin.  Sew along the edge you pinned - using about a 3/8" seam.

hello bunny :)

Step 4:  Lay the bunny wrong side down on top of the lining rectangle.
Trim the lining to match the shape of your bunny.

Now put them right sides together and pin around the edges.  Be sure to tuck the ears in so they won't get caught in the seam. 

Sew around the edge, leaving an opening in the bottom.  Press well and he should look like this:
Don't worry about closing that little opening - it will get caught in the next seam.

Step 5:  Sew the front pouch, right sides together, to the back.  Sew along the sides and bottom only.
Clip the corners, and flip him.  Press well.

Step 6:  Hand whip the velcro on - one piece on the pouch and one piece on the mouth.  

Hand whip the pom pom on the back.

There he is!  

What a cute little bunny.  Hoppy Monday!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Decorating for the Seasons

So....guess what decorations are still up in my house.  St. Patricks?  nope.  Valentine's Day?  nope.
Snowy wintry snowman?  nope.


That's right.  Christmas.  I would like to tell you that I forgot to take it down because it was adorning some out-of-the-way corner - but it's not true.  It is hanging above my entertainment center. 

I stare at it every day.  When we sit our tired bums down in the evening we are greeted by this:

Cute for December.  Not-so-much for March.  I don't know why I haven't changed it - or at the very least taken it down.  BUT in the spirit of good Feng Shui (more on that tomorrow) I decided it was time.  Seize the moment.  Just do it.  blah blah blah.

So I took it down.  Now what?  Gotta be something cute...I write a blog about homemaking.  So it was off to the Dollar Tree to see what I could find.  Here's what I emerged with:
plus two mermaids, a bunch of play grapes, and a pretend baby bottle ;)

I wrapped some neutral yarn around the moss stones, gathered the flowers into a bunch, and added one of my floral eggs

Then I glued these flowers and moss stones to a piece of cardboard.

I cut around the cardboard so you can't see it from the front. 

I taped it to the window pane.   Lastly I taped a picture of Charlotte's first Easter onto the window, and wrote the word Spring with a dry erase marker.

There.  That's much better. 

So tell me...what's the longest you've left decorations up after the holiday has passed?

Monday, March 21, 2011

American Indian Fry Bread

...or an acceptable way to eat funnel cake for breakfast.  It's not exactly like funnel cake - more like something in between  funnel cake and a doughnut.  SO good.  Not sweet so that's why you top it with sweetness.  I know you want to make some.  Just throw your diet out the window for a day.  It's okay.  Men like curves.

We had some friends over Friday night and she was telling me about this frybread.  I, of course, had to make some the next morning.  So I took some pics for you as I went along so you can make some this Saturday.  Or tonight.  Or as soon as you finish reading this post.

Here's the recipe:
1 1/3 cup of flour plus more for your surface when rolling
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp baking powder
3/4 cup of milk
vegetable oil for frying
yummy toppings: jam, honey, powdered sugar, etc

Step 1:
Mix the ingredients in a bowl - you should have a biscuit-like consistency.  Sprinkle your surface with flour, and scoop the dough onto the surface.  Roll or pat it out to about1/4" thick.  You could cut it into strips, but Charlotte wanted to do hearts.  So we did.

Step 2:  Heat about an inch of oil in a pan on medium heat.  Test the oil by dropping a small piece of dough into the oil - it should puff up and cook pretty quickly, but not burn.  Once you have all of the dough ready
drop a few into the oil - I could fit 3 hearts in the pan at once.
After about 30 seconds, use a slotted spoon to flip them over.  They should be a pretty golden brown.
After about 30 more seconds, lift them out of the oil onto paper towels. Let the oil drain off while they cool.  Continue making them in batches until all of the dough is used up.  While they are still warm spread your toppings on.  We used strawberry jam with powdered sugar, and honey with powdered sugar.

Oh, just looking at it makes me want to cook some more....I'm thinking there would have been a lot of difficult things about being an early American Indian - but these would have made up for a lot ;)   
Have fun and enjoy!!

Friday, March 18, 2011

Pretty Flower Easter Eggs - Pottery Barn Style

While shopping with Beverly, from Flamingo Toes, last week, I found some easter eggs at Pottery Barn covered in little hydrangea blossoms. (sadly I could not find a picture online of the inspiration eggs, so you'll just have to take my word for it)  I love hydrangeas, in fact they are my favorite flower. 
We had them at our wedding in our bouquets, on the cake, and on the tables.

My great-grandmother used to grow huge bushes of hydrangeas, and my mom and dad have one of the plants transplanted from her old home. So, I'm really happy that they seem to be "in" right now.  I'm not really sure the silk flowers I used are actually hydrangeas, but they looked close enough and were only $1 for a bunch of 3 at Michaels.  The eggs at Pottery Barn were $6.00 each, making the cost for 6 eggs, $36.00.  I spent $10.39 on the supplies to make my own.  Here's how you can make some for your home!

6 paper mache eggs (I got mine at Michaels for $2.50 
- I thought they would withstand the hot glue better than plastic ones)
silk hydrangea flowers ( I bought 2 bunches of each color, $1 a bunch)
hot glue/glue gun

Step 1:  Heat up your glue gun and snip all of the blossoms off the stems.
Separate them by color,

then by size.

Step 2:  Cut 6 pieces of ribbon about 6" long.  Put a dab of hot glue on the top of an egg.  Gently press one end of the ribbon in the glue.  Loop the ribbon around and glue it to the secured end.  Now you have a pretty little loop to hang your eggs.  

Step 3:  Begin gluing the blooms on.  Start with the large blooms.  Just experiment with the gluing method - I got better as I went along.  You might have to put a dab of glue in the center of the flower first - stick it on - then add some glue to the petals.  They don't have to lay flat - in fact it's better if they don't - but you don't want them sticking out in every direction either.

Step 4:  Once you have a nice coverage from the large blooms, begin filling in the spaces with the medium and small sized blooms.  Just keep going until you can't see any of the original egg.  

Then you're finished!  Hang in a lovely spot or on some branches in a vase.

Happy gluing and have a great weekend,