Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Crafting with the kids-No Bake Gingerbread Houses

It still 'Tis the Season of gingerbread, sweets and sticky fingers, so I thought I would share with you a cute craft project my kids did the last week of school. In our elementary school, both the Kindergarten and 4th grade undertake special gingerbread projects the week before Christmas.  With a kid in both Kindergarten and 4th this year, we were up to our ears in gingerbread houses.  But, with no baking involved, it was lots of fun.  So here are two fun options for creating a "no bake" gingerbread house.
The Kindergarten kids covered a small pint container(oj or half and half size) with frosting and then pushed graham crackers onto the sides to create the "gingerbread".  Then it was anything goes as they decorated with the candy of their choice.  The parents were invited in to help out and it was a nice chance to spend some time in the classroom.
The 4th grade project was more of an undertaking and was part of their math unit on perimeter and measurement.  Each kid was to plan out on graph paper the dimensions of their house and then build a cardboard model based on those measurements.  They had to draw diagrams of how they planned to decorate each side, create a key for the candy plan and then a shopping list (for mom) of candy needed.  They covered the entire house with frosting (2 cans in our case!) and then followed their decorating diagram to stick on the candy.  The last day of school, parents were invited to "walk down gingerbread lane" and view all the houses lined up on tables in the hallway.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Crafting with the Kids-Keepsake Ornaments

I have seen some beautiful ideas on the creative and vintage blogs I follow for filling the clear glass ornaments that are available at craft stores this time of year.  My favorites all feature narrow strips of paper, rolled and fed into the ornament so scattered bits and pieces of the images show.  I have seen beautiful ornaments filled with vintage paper, old song sheets and even a wedding invitation.  I wanted my version to be a keepsake ornament that I could make with my kids.  I wanted their doodles to be the images that would be featured in the ornament.  I cut long thin strips of scrapbook paper and let the kids write their names and doodle and draw on the back (white side).  I then had the kids curl the strips around a pencil (to help the paper along with it's job of circling inside the ornament).  Then the kids fed each strip of paper into the glass balls.

 For additional color and texture, you can glue ribbon to the backside of one of the scrapbook strips and the firmness of the paper will help the ribbon to hold a curled shape inside the globe.  The kids also punched out stars and christmas tree shapes that were small enough to fit inside.  The ornament can hold quite a few strips, so this will be an "ongoing" project this week to keep the kids busy.  Each is making their own keepsake ornament for our tree and then will decorate additional strips to be combined into one ornament for the grandparents.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Cookie Exchange Home Run-Oreo Truffles

Gracefully handling a Holiday cookie exchange has been one of my December goals for the past few years.  I love being invited, but completely freak out that I am willingly adding more to my "to do" list just a few weeks before Christmas.  I am usually knee deep in mailing out gifts to relatives, decorating the house and trying to make things special for my kids.  The thought of baking 5-7 dozen cookies on top of my usual stuff is a little daunting.  But, I love the chance for a night out with my friends and it always puts me in the Holiday spirit.

I have kept my eyes open for the ideal cookie that would be pretty, easy to make and yummy. I figured that if I could find the veritable home run of cookies for a cookie exchange, I could relax and enjoy myself the next time an invitation or evite arrived.  I had set my sights on peppermint bark (which I convinced myself qualifies as a cookie).  It is festive, easy to make, and friends would happily take it home to serve to guests.  But recently, my friend Linda, told me about Oreo Balls (also known as Oreo Truffles).  They sounded too good to be true.  They fit all my cookie exchange criteria.

I found a recipe for Easy Oreo Truffles  at The TomKat Studio and Kim even includes a free printable recipe card and label.  Three simple ingredients, no baking involved and they look decadent.  I couldn't ask for a better cookie exchange home run.

Friday, December 9, 2011

A Sea of Snowmen

I have a sea of snowmen on my kitchen counter and they are really putting me in the Christmas spirit.  An activity we had planned this week for our boy scout meeting fell through, so I had to scramble to come up with something to keep the boys occupied.  When all else fails, plan a craft project!  I searched for a mason jar snow globe tutorial and found one from julie ann art's blog that we will be doing with the boys (here is the snow globe tutorial link).  You need specific supplies like distilled water, a little glycerin and very strong water proof glue, but I think the end result will be worth it.  There were a number of tutorials out there without liquid, but I knew the boys would want the real deal.  I had hoped the boys would be able to glue down their own trees and snowmen, but all the glues I looked at suggested a good 24 hour dry time before getting wet.  Plus, a group of ten year old boys and a bottle of crazy glue is a recipe for disaster!  I opted for a glue called "liquid fusion, clear urethane" that I found at Michael's that promises to be 100% waterproof.  I think 2 jugs of water and a huge shaker of glitter snow will give them enough things to spill and splatter all over the kitchen!
We will also be writing Holiday letters to servicemen for a "Season of Service" project.  Here is the link if your kids want to participate.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Sew Cute

For years I have been searching for a vintage sewing basket.  I know what I have been hoping to find.  Wicker basket, firm fabric covered top,  similar to the signature Cath Kidston sewing baskets.  Only I want old, vintage, well loved.  I have seen my dream basket, but it is usually in a background shot of someone's sewing room or studio on a blog or in a magazine.  Never front and center, never for sale, just perfectly perfect and out of reach.

This week I came across the cutest sewing basket I have seen in person to date and snatched it up for $12.  Wicker basket, firm wood lid, bright floral decal.  I love it.

It is adorable inside and out.  The label inside says "Princess, Algonquin Illinois".  I was hoping to research the history of my new find, but my google search didn't reveal any info. about the company, just many more listings on etsy and ebay for more of these cute baskets.  Soft pastel colors, nice floral lids and even a few with poodles on the sides!  My search also revealed that mine is missing the original cording which went through the holes you see in the bottom and lid to form handles.  Hence the $12 price I guess!

I'm happy to have finally found what I was looking for.  And, I will keep my eyes open for another with the original cording intact to hold the lid on (isn't this how collections get started?).  Until then, if anyone knows anything about the history of these cute baskets, please let me know.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Organizing My Space

I love to use unconventional containers to organize all the little bits of stuff I have in my work space.  Anything that makes me smile or holds personal meaning (and holds my stuff!) is sure to be a winner.  I use this little piece of Cottage Ware to hold paper clips.

This little wicker baby buggy that I found at a gift basket supply store is great for spools of thread.

And my most recent find... an old Fisher Price farm silo.  It is perfect for holding all the sharp things (scissors, rotary cutter, etc.) that need to stay out of reach and safely hidden away.  What is your favorite organizational piece in your work space?

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

If you love something, set it free.....

"If you love something, set if free; if it comes back to you it's yours, if it doesn't, it never was meant to be".  Wait a minute.  Richard Bach was talking about human relationships when he wrote that, I don't think this is going to work for my situation.  I need an inspirational quote to help me come to terms with selling an item I listed on etsy (you know what I mean).  I came across this Napco cookie jar a few weeks ago and snatched it up since it reminded me so much of my own.  I fully intended to sell it in my etsy shop.  I photographed it, listed it and then put it on my shelf to wait.  That was my big mistake.  I should have hidden it from view and not enjoyed having it next to me, on my shelf, in my office (where I could even talk to it).  And then what I was originally hoping for happened-it sold!  And I was thrilled (for a second) and then slightly sad that this adorable little jar would be leaving.  But, I have gathered my strength, carefully packed him up and am going to mail it today.  Lesson learned-never get attached to an item I list on etsy again.  Just a few pictures for the family album (ha, ha).

  "It's better to have loved and lost, than to have never loved at all." ~ Alfred Lord Tennyson
shabby creek cottage

French Country Cottage

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Chevron Fever

We have all been hearing about "Missoni Fever" as a result of the Missoni for Target product launch in mid-September.  The graphic prints are colorful and amazing and deserve the attention.  Plus, all the hype is drawing attention to the good old-fashioned chevron design that deserves every bit of praise that it receives.  The classic V shape of the chevron pattern has long been a staple of houseware design and decorating.

One of my favorite crafters, Betz White, even designed a chevron pattern for Kleenex last year. Betz knit the sample for this box and then Kleenex photographed her work, manipulated it and turned it into the final product. 

I'm sure much of the Missoni line was created using computers and design programs.  But, before the days of computers, chevron patterns were most likely seen in knitting, crochet and home sewing projects.  A true display of the time, talent and love that women put into their creations.  I am lucky enough to have a vintage chevron apron of my own. 

I am in awe of the detail work that went into meticulously cutting and piecing the original striped fabric to create the classic V and inverted V's of the chevron design.  The woman that made this vintage gem cut, pieced and sewed together 12 individual strips to create her masterpiece.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Vintage Inspired Playroom Organizers

As my five year old gets bigger, it seems her toys get smaller and we were having trouble keeping all her little plastic friends organized.  I saw these glass slant jars at The Container Store and realized I could use them in the playroom for now and the kitchen or office when we no longer need them for toys (please tell me young kids do outgrow this phase where they hoard all things small and plastic!).  They remind me of old fashioned candy store containers and you can easily see what's inside.  There are lots of things inside!
I searched google images for the items we would be keeping in each of the containers (Little People, Animals and Princesses) and printed out pictures so my little princess would know who belongs where.

Somewhat Simpleshabby creek cottage

Friday, November 4, 2011

Shopportunity~50% off Claire Murray

I have collected Claire Murray rugs for as long as I can remember.  We have always gravitated towards apartments and homes with wood floors and are hesitant to cover too much of the wood with a rug.  Area rugs provide just enough coverage and, since I grow attached to my rugs, we can take them with us when we move.  Since my 20's I have splurged on small (3x5) Claire Murray rugs for the kitchen, bathrooms and bedrooms.  Fast forward 20 years, and many little rugs later, even my husband noticed that our floors were looking a little like a crazy quilt.  I was always hesitant to spend the money for a 5x7 or larger.  But then I discovered a few years ago that Claire Murray runs an annual 50% off sale.  Problem solved.  Each year I buy one 5x7 (or larger-eek!).  It's been a great way to keep my rug collection growing without breaking the budget.  The sale is going on now at Claire Murray.  Use coupon code Web50 to get 50% off one rug.  Enjoy!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

The House on the Hill

With snow falling all day Saturday, we stayed inside and tried to keep busy.  I have been wanting to make another pillow from my vintage linens.  So, I gathered my stash (from the closet, dresser, china cabinet) and spread everything out on the bed to take a look.  Lots of hand stitched flowers, ditsy prints and ginghams were in the pile, as these always catch my eye when I am out hunting.

But wait!  This cute little house on the hill was peeking out from my pile.  I think as we evolve as collectors, we are always adding new layers to our interests (often without even knowing it).  My love of ceramic Cottage Ware seems to be influencing my taste in linens and this tiny house has shown up in my stash.  Lucky for me, because this was the perfect project for a snowy day!