Tuesday, April 8, 2014

A Year Without a Birthday Party

 I love planning birthday parties for Noodlebug.  Pinterest is such a wonderful thing and gives me a lot of party inspiration!

First Birthday: Rubber Ducky Party

Second Birthday: Very Hungry Caterpillar Party

Third Birthday: Yee-Haw Cowboy Birthday Party

Fourth Birthday: Camping-Themed Birthday Party

Fifth Birthday: Non-Licensed Superhero Birthday Party

This year, we are going to Disneyland for Noodle's birthday.  I have been saving money for a year to be able to do this.  I started selling Barefoot Books and proctoring the SAT on weekends to add to the fund.  We are almost there!  Because money is tight, there is no way we can do both a birthday party and a trip to Disneyland.  I think Noodle has come around to the idea of not having a party but I am not sure that I have.  I had so many great ideas!  I'll have to start thinking ahead to next year for his (gulp) 7th birthday. 

I have a feeling that Noodle's 6th birthday is going to be really hard for me. Something about 6 just sounds so big.  It feels like he won't be a little boy anymore.  Plus, I am looking at a milestone birthday in the near future as well.  It feels like the end of an era and I am not taking it well. Lots of melancholy around here. As time passes, it becomes more likely that my dream of another child won't be coming true.  I am so grateful that I have had the opportunity to be a mom. Best job I have ever had.

For now, I am going to try and focus on our upcoming trip to Disneyland and not the hourglass running in my mind.

(First Birthday--2009)

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Sign Painting Using Vinyl Letters

I got to go to a really fun sign painting class last night at B Street Mercantile in Petaluma.  This is the cutest shop!  It is full of handmade items from around the Bay Area. The shop has monthly crafty classes but I can never seem to make it to one.  But I did last night!!!

I didn't quite finish with my painting but here it is:

Before we came to class, we were able to submit the words or phrase that we wanted to use. The ladies had the vinyl letter pre-cut for us.  I am going to do some more distressing with sandpaper and maybe some embellishment to finish my sign.

Here is what you need to make your own:

Canvas (any size)
Acrylic paints
Vinyl letters or repositionable poster letters
Assorted papers for collaging (optional)
Mod Podge
A roll of clear sticky adhesive back plastic film with grid backing that can be cut to size (optional)
(Similar to this)
X-acto knife


The ladies who ran the class used a Silhouette Cameo to cut the vinyl letters for us.  I have used my Silhouette machine once since I got it.  This may inspire to me to break it out again. The vinyl letters are essentially used for masking.  You will be throwing them away.  You can also use sticky repositionable poster letters.

1. Decide on whether you would like a collage background or a painted background.  Whatever you choose to do for your first layer will show through as letters.  I chose to do a painted background.  I painted the entire base a burnt sienna color.  My friend Susie collaged papers on her first layer.

(Susie's piece)




You can see how the collaged papers who through on her letters.  A WORD OF WARNING: if you are collaging papers, make sure they are completely dry before starting the next layer.  I hit my first layer with a hairdryer before moving on.  A heat gun would be even better.

2. Once your first layer is dry, decide where you want your letters. The instructor taught us a neat trick. Rather than going letter by letter, she cut us a large piece of of the sticky back plastic film. We placed the sticky film on top of one line of words/letters and rubbed them with a scraper. A credit card would work too. Then, we gently peeled up the film and it carried the letters with it.  You then place the film where you would like it on the canvas, gently rub the letters again and carefully peel off the plastic film leaving the letters behind. This can be a bit tricky. My letters had trouble sticking to the canvas. The main thing is to make sure they are flat on the canvas so paint won't get under them.

After you have all your letters where you want them, it is time to paint the second layer.

3. Decide on your top layer of paint.  You will be painting this color over the entire canvas including the letters.  I chose yellow. Susie did multiple colors.  I was disappointed that my yellow wasn't more uniform. I really didn't want the burnt sienna to show through. In the end, I glopped it on to create texture since I couldn't get the heavy uniform color I wanted.  We used Liquitex acrylics for this project.  Try not to get the paint under the letters.  Be careful when painting over them.

Make sure this layer gets pretty dry before moving on.  It should have a tacky feel to it.

4. Once the top layer is pretty dry, use your fingernail or an X-acto knife to start peeling up your letters.  I found that the X-acto knife was most helpful. Gently peel off the letters and see the results!  Susie had trouble with hers because her sticky letters were peeling off the collaged paper. We think this was because her first layer wasn't dry enough. She had to go in and make some fixes.  But I love how she painted a heart for the center of her circle.

Since my piece already looks distressed, I am thinking of going over it with sandpaper to distress it more. I may even paint some flowers in the negative space. When you are completely finished, you can seal the whole thing with Mod Podge.

Cute and easy!!!

Interestingly enough, this technique is almost exactly the same as a project I attempted awhile back that was a complete and total failure. Remember this? 


Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Rut

Friends, I am in a crafting rut.  I am supposed to be keeping up with two online classes.  One of them is year-long. I gave up in early February. Not a good start.

I am on lesson one for my Brave Girls Club class which I think may be over now.

I just can't find the time to do anything creative.  Just keeping up with work and motherhood and running our Sunday school program is taking all my time.  My workroom has become a room to throw things into. I can barely get through the door past the giant laundry basket full of clothing I am trying to sell on eBay.

I wish I could say that I spend time being creative or otherwise productive after Noodle goes to bed but I usually end up watching tv because I am so tired.

When weekend roll around, I am desperately running around trying to spend quality time with my son while catching up on all the household stuff I am unable to get done during the week.

Tomorrow night, I am going to take a class in sign-making at a local shop.  I am hoping it will reinvigorate my creativity.  After all, Easter is right around the corner!



Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Blessing Basket


I love getting holiday cards and I am so disappointed that so many people have stopped doing them.  I gather them in a basket each Christmas and enjoy looking through them and thinking about friends and family near and far.  It offers a better opportunity for browsing than an e-mail.

Last year, I read SIMPLICITY  PARENTING by Kim John Payne and Lisa M. Ross and it completely changed my mind about a lot of things. One of the best parenting books I ever read.  Payne talks about keeping holiday cards out year round and I thought that was a great idea.

We keep our basket of holiday cards near the dining table and we call it the Blessing Basket.  Each night, Noodlebug randomly picks a card out of the basket.  We include the family represented by the card in our blessing that night over dinner.  It gives us the opportunity to think about the people in our lives each day and to send out some special love for them through prayer.

It has been such a wonderful experience so far and I'm hoping we get even MORE holiday cards next year so we can continue the tradition.



Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Homemade "Goldfish" Crackers

Some friends have recently gotten me reevaluating my love of Goldfish crackers.  Although they taste so good and they are so convenient, I don't like the extra stuff in them such as the high salt content and (in the case of the colored ones) artificial colors. So, I decided to make my own version using a Weelicious recipe.  I used the one in the Weelicious Lunches cookbook but it is also available on the website. The Weelicious recipe uses whole wheat flour, butter, seasoning and cheddar cheese. That's it.

Here they are before baking.  I used some miniature cookie cutters I found at the outlet mall last weekend for $4. I probably should have rolled my dough a little thinner but they worked.  I baked them for the full fifteen minutes and I probably should have taken them out after 13 minutes. Also, I thought I had a disaster when the dough wouldn't hold together. I then realized that you need to pulse the dough for a good 3-4 minutes to get it to come together. Guess I was too impatient. Overall, I am really happy with the results.  I thought they were really tasty and I can't wait to make more!

Monday, February 17, 2014

President's Day shirt with Freezer Paper Stencils

It seems like the only projects I can finish these days involve freezer paper stencils.


Sunday, February 9, 2014

Valentine's Fun

I am trying very hard to keep up with both Life Book 2014 and Brave Girls Club--THE WALK and I am falling behind in both. So I haven't had much to share lately.

I did manage to finish a wreath for the front door:

I already had everything I need for it except for the wreath form. I used this tutorial I found on Pinterest.  I wrapped the wreath in burlap ribbon instead of yarn and used twine for the criss-cross part.

We had a Valentine's playdate yesterday with an old friend.  I came up with a craft idea. I found these little mailboxes in the dollar bins at Target. I painted the ends with chalkboard paint and filled them with stickers for decorating.





My friend Susie is a master at making cookies and made a bunch of cookies for the kids to decorate:




It was a great rainy day activity.

Noodlebug and I finished all of his valentines and we are ready to go! We always do non-candy valentines and chose to do this one this year.  I'm so excited that I have the day off next Friday so I get to volunteer in his classroom on Valentine's Day! 


Monday, January 20, 2014

Freezer Paper Stencil Martin Luther King Jr.

Hooray for freezer paper stencils!  They enable me to make an easy tshirt for Noodlebug for just about any holiday.


Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Handmade Valentine Limited Edition Kiwi Crate

We have been fans of Kiwi Crate for years.  So much so that I became an affiliate. I have really been enjoying the seasonal mini-crates they have been releasing.  Noodlebug and I did a Halloween and a Holiday one.  Now, Kiwi Crate is releasing a special crate for Valentine's Day!


The set contains everything you need to make 24 handmade pop-up cards.  In my experience, Kiwi Crate is serious when they says EVERYTHING you need is included. That is one of the things I love about them!  As a busy mom, I don't have time to run around and gather a bunch of supplies.

This limited edition crate is available now for $14.95.  Go here and find it under "Shop" and "Mini-Crates." 



Monday, January 13, 2014

Painting with Noodlebug

Noodlebug and I sometimes like to go to our local coffee shop on the weekend for warm beverages.  Since it is located downtown, we tend to go for a walk afterwards and look in the shop windows. In the window of our local independent bookstore was an original painting of Pete the Cat by James Dean.  Noodlebug decided that he had a burning need to paint a picture of Pete the Cat.

We grabbed our Michael's coupon and headed to the store. I let Noodle pick out colors of cheap acrylic craft paint to use.  He begged me for a real canvas.  And only a LARGE real canvas would do. Luckily, Michael's had a five-pack of 16 x 20 canvases on sale for $9.99. I figured a $2 canvas would be perfect for this project.

I am the type of person who gets inspiration from  looking at another picture.  I think Noodle is the same type of person. We went onto my computer and I showed him lots of pictures of Pete the Cat.  He chose this one to copy:

(image source)
We recently took a class at the Schulz Museum that taught us how to draw using shapes.  I tried to get Noodle to look at the picture in terms of shapes.  I had him sketch a picture of Pete with a pencil first.  It was hard for him to get the scale.  There was a lot of canvas to fill!  Next, I set him to work painting the background. To make the paint go further, I mixed it with some basic medium.  Then, we started with Pete's head.  I told him to think of Pete's head as a football.  Then, he put the ears.  The ears were a bit narrow at first so we looked at the original and talked about whether Pete had wide ears or narrow ears.  At times, Noodle would get frustrated when his painting didn't look EXACTLY like the original. When he had trouble getting the shape right, I would help him flesh out the edges or I would make a mark for width so he would know how far to paint.  Then, Noodle painted the body.  I helped him with placement of the feet.  His first attempt at Pete's tail really frustrated him.  I painted over the part he didn't like and he tried again.  Then, he did the arm.  I suggested making a roundish circle on the end for Pete's paw.  He asked me to do the handle of the mug so I did.  He did the cup and the hot chocolate and the steam. I added a little white to the top of the mug since Noodle had the beverage going all the way to the top. Next, we did the eyes. I told him to use the football shape again. Start with a frown on top and then connect it with a smile on bottom. He did the iris and pupils.  He had trouble with the nose so I added one edge to make it more triangular.  He did the whiskers.  His first attempt got him really frustrated.  It kind of reminded me of Don Music on "Sesame Street."



After some major artistic tears and tantrums, I painted over the whiskers and we took a break.  After lunch, we came back to the painting and he finished the whiskers and signed his work.  I would say that 80% of this painting is his work:





We have four more canvases so I think he may be inspired to make more!  It was fun and frustrating and a very good learning experience for both of us.