Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Discovering Nature at Grammie's House

Get out of the desert and into the woods!

One of the things I miss since moving from Canada to the desert, is the abundance of forests and shaded hiking trails (not that I was much of a hiker when I lived in Canada, but I digress). The climate, vegitation and wildlife in the area of Canada where my mom lives is completely different than the naturally sandy desert covered in man-made landscape where I live now. The first day we spent at my mom's, Taylor and my 9 yr old niece were in the backyard, catching frogs in the pond, chasing butterflies and throwing bread in the yard in hopes of luring the chipmunks.

The pictures below were taken on a hike we went on on Monday. The trail is in a hiking area less than a mile from my mom's house. Enjoy the pics...we're sure enjoying our trip.

Little feet on the trail...

Picking up stones to skip stones in the stream...

Discovering snails...

Feeling a mossy rock...

I can't wait to show you where we're going on Friday! This was a beautiful hike but is nothing compared to what we'll see on Friday!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Drawing Pad Portofolio with Crayon holder

Here's another thing to keep Taylor busy on our trip. This project has been on my to-do list ever since I decided I wanted to learn how to sew. To make this project I followed this tutorial. In case you haven't noticed yet, I absolutely LOVE the blog Skip to my Lou. She has really creative projects with clear, easy to follow tutorials. In her original idea, the portfolio holds pencil crayons. I wanted Taylor's portfolio to hold crayons, so I compared this tutorial with her Crayon Roll tutorial and sure enough, the individual slots are the same size so it can hold either pencils or crayons.

I love how it turned out!!!

Edited to add the links because I was too busy multitasking when I wrote this I forgot to add the links!

Monday, August 17, 2009

Super Simple Sticker Book Tutorial

This truly is a super simple project and if you're a friend of mine with a kiddo of sticker loving age, then chances are, you're little one will be getting one of these from me for Christmas!

To make this Super Simple Sticker Book you need:

1 6x6 photo album (I bought mine in 2 pks from Target for $1 - in the dollar aisle - about a yr ago -- I'm sure you can find these at the dollar store)
multiple sheets of 12x12 cardstock (My album had 10 pages so I needed 5 sheets of cardstock)
Another sheet of cardstock to make your die-cut letters or alphabet stickers or pre-cut letters for the title of your book
Mod Podge
Ribbon for embellishment and anything else your heart desires to use as embellishments
Sticker sheets (of course!)

The process is soooo easy!

Cut your 12x12 cardstock into quarters (in case your mathematically challenged, each 12x12 sheet will give you 4 6x6 pieces of cardstock)

Slip a piece of 6x6 cardstock into each page protector in your album.

Cut another piece of cardstock to 3x6 (or maybe a little longer depending on the size of your cover). Use a small paint brush to apply a thin strip of Mod Podge to 3 sides of this piece of cardstock. Stick this piece of cardstock to the inside of the front cover to create a pocket.

Slip sticker sheets into the front pocket. Add your title to the front of your book (adhere your letters with Mod Podge for durability) and tie a ribbon around the spine of the book. Give the book to your favorite child! The child can then stick the stickers to the page protectors and remove them, then restick them, or they can remove the cardstock and stick the stickers to the cardstock. Either way, this is a fun easy gift that will give a sticker loving child, hours of fun!

*I made this book because Taylor and I are taking a 5 hr flight next Saturday to visit Grammie for a week. I've put together a special bag of new toys/activities for her to keep her busy on the plane. So stay tuned because I'll be posting about these goodies all week long!

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Extend the Life of Your Cricut Cutting Mat

I'm not that great at replacing the protective layer of plastic on my Cricut cutting mat when I'm done using it. And, after I used my Cricut for LOTS of cutting in preparing for Taylor's birthday party, my cutting mat had lost it's stickiness. Rather than buying a new pack of cutting mats regularly (at $10 for a 2 pack, the cost can add up!), I figured there's got to be an alternative. I discovered this handy tip and thought I'd share it with all of you!

You need the supplies shown above:

Cricut Cutting Mat (obviously ;) )
Aleen's Tack it Over & Over
Scraper (from your Cricut tool kit. If you don't have the tool kit, you can use anything that will scrape the coating away without damaging the cutting surface - a plastic ruler would probably work just as well)
a Foam brush
a small amount of water
a small container and popsicle stick for mixing

Note: Teflon Spray or WD40 will also be helpful.

Step 1 - Use your scraper to scrape your cutting mat completely clean. This task is made easier but spraying a light coat of Teflon spray onto the cutting mat to prep it for scraping. The spray helps break down the adhesive on the mat.

Next, grab your Aleene's Tack it Over & Over. This is a temporary adhesive and I actually had it in my stash because I un-mounted all my rubber stamps awhile ago to use them on acrylic blocks. I coated the back of the stamps with the Tack it Over & Over adhesive.

Pour a very small amount of Tack it Over & Over into your mixing container.

Pour a little water into your mixing container (it should probably be about 3 parts adhesive to 1 part water). You can adjust it as you go along.

Use your foam brush to coat your cutting mat with your glue/water mixture. The mixture will bead up but just reapply. Once the mat is thoroughly coated, let dry for several minutes until it's dry to the touch but tacky.

Your mat is ready to use! And here's one final picture to show you how perfectly the paper sticks to the mat, but lifts off easily, too!

I like to store the unused glue/water mixture in a small container for future use.

I hope you find this helpful!!! And the best part of this is: the money you save by not buying new mats, you can use to buy more Cricut Cartridges! :)

A Get Well Gift for Myself!

I've been sick all week with a nasty cold. Headache, body aches, nasal congestion, coughing, and hoarseness that seemed like it would never end. Given I'm a hospice social worker, I couldn't exactly see patients as sick as I was. So I was out sick for half the week. Hence the fact I was able to do so much crafting! (I'm still playing catch up in posting all my projects!). As sick as I've been, I'm not one to lay in bed all day, so crafting kept me quiet and didn't take much energy. My dear friend, Jen, made me a rice therapy bag for Christmas. It has been well used. I seemed to have misplaced it though and I finally decided I just needed to make my own, so Friday morning, I sat my achy sick body down at my sewing machine and made the rice bag shown above. Then I popped it in the microwave for 2 minutes and headed to bed for a nap! Later, I made the pocket tissue pack holder using this tutorial.

I think it would be a great little gift pack to package a rice bag, pocket tissue holder, a mug, tea bags and cough drops into a gift bag and give to a friend who's feeling under the weather. You could also add a cozy blanket and a can of Chicken Soup, or even some dry soup mix made from scratch...what a nice little comfort pack!

Oh, and these little things were definitely comforting to me, I finally feel human again!

What makes you feel better when you're feeling under the weather?

Saturday, August 15, 2009

More pics -- as promised...

I finally got the little monkey to agree to a mini photo shoot in her newest T-shirt dress. So, as promised, here are the pics. Most of the other pics I took are not so great. I swear getting this girl to stand still or actually look at the camera is one of my greatest challenges! She's always on the go and while I love candid shots in motion, I usually snap a shot of her heel as she runs away...not exactly the candid shot I'm going for...

This is the back of the dress. I don't think these loops do the pattern justice because I just snipped some fabric and sewed it together, I didn't follow the measurements, for this one!

Altered Compostion Book - Where I'll record my crafty ideas!

I was staring at this black and white composition book for weeks, not knowing how I wanted to cover it. I finally decided anything would be better than the boring black & white stripes that were dizzying if I looked at them for longer than 1/2 a second. So, I picked out some patterned paper from Stampin' Up that I've been hoarding forever...I used my Base Camp Cricut cartridge to cut out the letters, and then used mod podge to adhere it all to the cover. Of course I had to finish it off with a ribbon and flowers. :) all-time favorite embelli.

I'm not totally happy with the look of the letters. I think I might re-do it with the yellow-ish colored cardstock. The patterned paper of the letters just isn't pleasing to me...I dunno...what do you think??

Friday, August 14, 2009

Leave a little comment...Don't be shy!

So, I've noticed that while I have 11 "official" followers on my blog (can you see me jumping up and down with joy!), and several other people that I know visit here regularly, I'm not getting many comments. Can I just tell you that I absolutely LOVE comments? Seriously, they make my day!!!! I also get super excited when I get new followers!!! I often look back at old posts so if you see something you like from ages ago, go ahead and leave a comment on that post. I'll see it, I promise! I'm wondering if perhaps you're just not sure what to say? Well, I'm make it easy for you today.

You can simply leave a comment telling me:

1) how you found my blog?
2) What you like best about my blog
3) What keeps you coming back here?
4) What you wish I would post more of?

And again, if you're reading this several weeks from now, you can still comment! The answers to these questions will help me in deciding what to write about!

Thanks for leaving a comment and making my day!!!! :)

Super Simple Greek Salad

This is the easiest, yummiest summer salad!

1 red onion

2 green bell peppers

2 roma tomatoes

1 cucumber

1 can of medium pitted black olives

Feta cheese

Greek dressing (I use Girard's)

Chop veggies, and add to bowl. Toss with Greek dressing. Sprinkle with feta cheese. Enjoy!

I make this in fairly big batches, chopping all the veggies and storing in the fridge (undressed, don't worry, it's dark in there, no one else will see the naked veggies!). Then I dish out in smaller servings as needed and toss with dressing and feta.

This recipe can be served alone as a meal in and of itself; as a side dish for steak or chicken; added to a bed of romaine; or added to pasta for an instant pasta salad.

I love the ease, simplicity and versatility of this recipe so I just had to share it!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Flower Prints

I was inspired by this post and knew exactly what I was going to do with some flowers we had that were beyond their prime. I realized in writing this post, that The Artful Parent used watercolors for the prints. We used acrylic paint. I let Taylor use my acrylics a while ago to make a gift (which I haven't posted yet because the recipient hasn't recieved it yet!) and she always wants to use my acrylics now. So, that's what we used. The pictures show the process. She made some really great prints and I plan to make notecards out of them.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Another T-Shirt Dress

I got these T-shirts on a trip to the Goodwill last week. All of their children's clothes were on sale for 99 cents! I bought several big T-Shirts and this is the first of many dresses that I'll be making with them. I used the Lil Blue Boo pattern again and this time I added the ruffle option. Tip: I had some issues with the gathering stitch. Being a beginner sewer I've never made a ruffle or used a gathering stitch. I consulted with Ashley and she gave the essential tip that I needed to start and end my thread long enough that I wouldn't lose the thread when I pulled the other end to gather it. That solved my problem! That Ashley sure knows what she's doing! I love the look of the ruffle!

You can't see the detail of the bird very well, but it's a silver and glittery. I left this one as a halter but the back hangs to low/wide on my long and lean girl so I'll be turning this one into a tie-back just like the other one I made. If I can get my girl to stand still long enough, I'll post some pics of her wearing it!

Monday, August 10, 2009

The Scrapbooking Aftermath...

This is why I don't scrapbook more often...ahhh the mess.

Fortunately I've cleaned up most of it, but my desk is still pretty messy and cluttered.

Are you messy when you're crafting?

Altered Coaster Mini Album

Remember I said I was scrapbooking on Saturday? Well, here's what I made. I bought a pack of 20 cardboard coasters from Michael's for $1. Using patterned paper, fabric and paper flowers, brads, rhinestones, ribbons and acrylic paint, I altered the coasters and created this mini-album.
Here's the inside of the album:

This was one of our first family photos. Taylor was only about 3 days old in that picture. I know, amazing that she's got that adorable grin on her tiny little face!

I love that pic of her with the sunglasses on her head. That was taken Christmas day and she looks like such a little diva. The joy on her face in the other pic is because she's at her friend's birthday party and they were singing Happy Birthday. And of course, after you sing Happy Birthday, you get cupcakes!!!

A pic from a trip to the beach this summer.

My new favorite family photo. Taken on a hike in Orange County the same weekend we went to the beach.
Pics taken on that same hike. I absolutely love these pics. They totally capture her personality right now!

I love that I can add to this album. I still have lots of coasters and the random colors don't box me in. The rings are plenty big and can accomodate a lot more pages.