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DIY Owl Tote

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Last year, I made this advent calendar counting down until Christmas. Always one to cram extra projects into an already exhaustingly busy month, on day nine I had written, “Make a Christmas present for your teacher.” Blah.

I have a few friends who are teachers and I know they often receive the same gifts. So, I wracked my tired brain for an idea that might be somewhat original, cheap, and also something the girls could make, preferably having to do with owls since their teacher has a fondness for them.

I came up with nothing. HOWEVER, while I was browsing the aisles of Walmart in search of other last minute craft supplies, I stumbled across canvas totes, all under $3. Score. I snatched one up and scurried home, giddy with anticipation and self-congratulations of being so thrifty and clever.

This bag took less than an hour, and if we’re being honest here, it could have taken half that time had I not enlisted the girls to help me out with this. Ah! I love them. They are precious, but heaven help me! Let me get this out of the way because if you read any of my posts you know I like to keep it real, lest you think this was some Hallmark, Kodak moment so when you try this out with your kids you are cursing me and my family for generations to come because I made it seem like this project was sunshine and kittens and lollipops. Sugar and spice and everything nice it was not.

First, I had the girls help me cut out pieces for the wings (I don’t have a pattern, but it was pretty easy to freehand them) and was trying to make sure we all had ten digits on each hand by the time it was all said and done because Ev couldn’t keep her eyes on what she was doing and the dogs were wrestling and bumping into us. I asked Nora to keep an eye on the pieces to give her a “special job” while I was trying to sew pieces on. She lost them. Twice. Poor girl tries so hard, but is slightly absentminded like her Mama. Then I had the girls take turns helping me by pressing down the pedal while I guided the bag through the machine. StrEEEEEEssful!! The dogs kept looping around my legs and under the table, digging in my garbage and stepping on the pedal. Again, fingers were counted after that fiasco. I discovered also, much to my great annoyance, that I had to rip out one side of the bag so I could fit it into my machine, then I stitched it back up when all was said and done.

So, that out of the way, I will tell you how we pulled this together. Let’s start with the supply list, shall we??

-canvas tote

-scrap fabrics for eyes and wings

-large buttons for eyes

-sharpie paint marker

-fabric markers

-glue gun

-sewing machine

We started out by making a wing pattern out of paper and making two, cutting them out along a fold so you have two mirror images. Then I traced something round for the eyes and drew large circles in the middle of large buttons (also found in the craft section at Walmart). I pinned the fabric pieces to the bag (after opening up one side so, as aforementioned it fit better through my machine) and went to work sewing the pieces on. I chose to do a straight stitch because I like the raw edge look, but you might prefer an applique stitch. Once the fabric pieces were on, I stitched the open side back up and hot glued the button eyes on. Once all of that was done, the girls wrote on the back of the tote. Pretty easy peasey, my friends. I think they turned out cute, don’t you? Oh. Yeah. The bag is pretty cute, too. 😉

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Diy Thanksgiving Plate

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I’m so excited to share this super simple, festive plate for Thanksgiving. I teach art at our small, Christian school and my oldest class only has four girls in it, so I can do fun projects like this with them. So tho do these plates all you need are the following:

*white dinner plates (I got mine for fifty cents each at a secondhand store)

*sharpies

*clear contact paper

*turkey silhouette

I started off by googling a turkey silhouette then drew it freehand on the back of the clear contact paper and cut it out. I then peeled the paper off the back and centered it in the middle of each plate. Then I encouraged the girls to make a pattern around the turkeyturkey with sharpies ( I suggested the dots, but one of my students opted to do stripes instead), then they each wrote a message on the outside border of the plate. Once their patterns were done, we pulled the contact paper off, leaving the turkey silhouette in the middle.IMG_20141117_133910986 IMG_20141117_133954268

Pretty simple, right?  It only took them fifteen-twenty minutes each to finish this project. Then, today, I plan to bake them in the oven at 350f for a half hour. With these sharpie plates, I recommend only using them for decorative purposes because the sharpie will fade and wipe off over time.

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Display on a plate holder or put some wrapped candies in it and enjoy!

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Pottery with a Purpose

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For about two years now we have been sponsored a child from Haiti (Ermione)  through World Vision and the girls have loved praying for her and sending her specials cards and pictures.  When we were searching for a child to sponsor, we chose Ermione because she is from Haiti which is still reeling from the earthquakes which ravaged their land a few years ago. Also, her birthday is just one day prior to Nora’s, so they feel a special bond to her because she is so close in age to them.  As the girls have gotten older, my husband and I have been wracking our brains in how to teach the girls gratitude for all that God has provided for us and for caring for others beyond themselves; hence this little project. It’s experimental, to be honest, but we wanted to involve the girls more in sponsoring a child of their own, earning the money themselves (well, with our help of course) to care for another child overseas. Rather than spend time telling you about it myself, I thought I would let my guest bloggers speak for themselves. 🙂

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EVIE:

“My name is Evie and I am five, almost six. I like to play with my Mommy sometimes and I love Mommy. I like to play games, eat popcorn and watch a movie. My favorite movie is Tinkerbell and I have a necklace and I make pretend food for everyone.

Today we painted plates. What colors were on the plates were brown, pink, purple, black and let’s see….think, think, think, think, think, think, think….We did the plates for us to keep and to tell everybody in our country about Jesus…um…I meant about to make money for other kids like Ermione and other kids so the Moms and Dads and kids could buy food in a poor, poor, poor, poor place. I was on the plates. I showed what face I wanted to do and color things in.”

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NORA:

“My name is Nora and my favorite thing to do is play outside and I like to eat macaroni and cheese and have some color in my macaroni and cheese. I like to go to the candy store and especially is go to camp and get popsicles there too; eat there, spend time there, too. Go in the pool and play in the playground.

We colored the plates and that was really nice and we did pictures on the plates and smiled. We did the plates to spend money to eat because it’s for them to have…um…for Ermione. It’s cost some to buy food and it’s for them to help buy food because they don’t have much food. It’s for them to learn about Jesus and to help them go to school to learn about Jesus. Ermione has the same skin as me and her birthday is the day before mine. She’s the same age as me and Evie which is five….the same thing as us. Some day we would like to play with her sometimes. “

I am going to be offering personalized plates like these and other hand-painted pottery by me and the girls in my Etsy shop and other pottery (like these mugs) and all proceeds will go to our sponsored child. Who knows? We are hoping to be able to earn enough to sponsor more than one a month!

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Last Minute Father’s Day

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Is it sad that I’m a little excited/proud to share this post with you? I don’t know about you, but every time Christmas, our anniversary, my husband’s birthday, or Father’s Day rolls around I am wracking my already tired brain for something special/meaningful/cheap/easy/DIY I can give to my hubby. This year, I had the “brilliant” idea to try to make Father’s Day a one week event. I have done little things like got him Airheads, one of his favorite candies, and left it in the car with a note attached that said, “Thanks for putting up with an airhead like me.” I left a package of much needed undershirts for him on the bed to find when he changed after work with a note that said, “thanks for working so hard to keep the shirts on our backs.” Cheesey, I know. But cheesey is good, right? Anyway, I also wanted to make some things for him from the kids. That is when this idea struck me and I am bursting to share it with you. It cost me all of $2 and a half hour to make (and it only took that much time because the girls were painstakingly considering which stickers to put on it). So, Sam and I have been talking for a long time about doing date nights with the girls and scheduling in date nights of our own, and much the same as I scramble for gift ideas, we often can’t think of things to do for our dates, hence this idea.

I started out buying a spiral bound package of index cards, the kind with the fun, neon colors. Image

You can do this, obviously with plain white ones, but I chose to use the ones with different colors to segregate the different sections for our family.

Green: this was designated for the family dates that would include all of us together.

Yellow: dates for just me and Sam

Orange: For Nora and Daddy

Pink: For Evie and Daddy

So the three of us, the girls and myself, went to work thinking up dates to add to our book. We all thought of things we could do together as a family, then I asked the girls separately if they could do anything with Daddy what they would want to do. We filled the whole book with ideas for each of us to do on our own with Sam as well as a whole section of ideas for things to do as a family.  It was pretty easy peasey! Then, the girls went about putting stickers on each page, because everything is much classier with stickers.ImageImage

Then to finish it off, I slapped on a cute piece of paper on the front and called it a day!

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Here are a few of my favorite things from each section:

Green:

1.Go to the drive-in theater

2.Go to the pet store then get a soft pretzel at the mall

3.Visit someone who needs encouraged

4.Take a thankful walk or have a dance party if it’s raining.

Yellow:

1.Go antiquing and have lunch out

2.Sit on the porch after dark with a hot drink and talk about us

3.Visit a nearby city for the day or weekend.

Orange:

1.Play tag at the park

2.Sing songs in the car

3.Go see some animals at one zany zoo

4.Go buy dress-up at the thrift shop (she is her mother’s daughter!)

Pink:

1. Play Simon Says

2. Color together

3. Climb trees

4. Go and get coffee

I had so much fun listening to the kids’ ideas and can’t wait until we get to do them!

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DIY Wreath

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I am so cheap. I really am. I am that person that goes to the Salvation Army on half-off Wednesdays and agonizes about whether I should buy that really cute sweater that is $3 (and that is before the discount is taken off). Yep-that’s me.  So when I go to those major craft stores and browse all of their delightfully cheery Springtime decor, dreaming about what it would look like in my home and see a $40 price tag for a door wreath-well, my cheap heart practically goes into cardiac arrest.  This is why I love the Dollar Tree. I have to say this: I believe it is a complete deception and misnomer is a store calls itself a “dollar store” when everything in it is not a dollar. It’s just not right. This is why I love the Dollar Tree. I spend much more time and money there than any human being should, but can you blame me? Did you hear me say “EVERYTHING IS A DOLLAR!”?!

So, I picked up a few things from there today to make this wreath for my front door which was looking so shamefully naked and immodest. I spent six dollars-YUP- SIX dollars and ten minutes on this wreath.

The Dollar Tree has a great selection of silk flowers that I think are pretty. I picked up an assortment of ones I liked and thought would look nice together, along with a bare craft wreath and a spool of tulle in their wedding section (yeah-they even have a wedding section!).

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Then I went to work cutting the flowers from their stems to a more manageable length to work with (about 4 inches) with my trusty pair of wire cutters.

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I then glued the leaves of them to the base of the flower head and glued under the leaves and inserted them as I pleased through the wreath. This is the best part-arranging them however you feel like it and nobody can stop you. 😉

Here is our door all gussied up and ready for Spring. We just bought our house a couple of months ago and fell in love with all of it’s charm and character, this gorgeous front door being part of that.

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I chose to leave some space about 2/3 of the way from the top to let the twigs show, but I also made another one for the Fall and glued the whole way around. The girls helped me with this one (also made with stuff from the Dollar Tree):

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And here is one we made for Christmas:

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See? The possibilities are endless!

And I even had a lot of flowers left over to bring Spring inside the house as well!

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Personalized Mugs for Kids and Adults

For some reason, I really love mugs of all shapes and sizes.  I feel like I have a tea cup or sturdy mug suitable for whatever mood strikes me at the moment. A dainty tea cup for sipping some Darjeeling while swooning over Elizabeth Bennett and Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy.  A nice blue striped one on melancholy days to remember the sweet friend who gave it to me.  A brown and cream polka-dotted one scrounged up at a flea market circa 1955 when I feel like baking. And, of course on a day for remembering, there is the one adorned with the face of “Morris” the loveable feline who once was the face of a cat food commercial, the same mug my grandmother used to have.  I love mugs, because I know whatever is in them is something that will bring me comfort.  Hot tea, a cup of joe, hot chocolate, or steamy soup all have a therapeutic way of warming up the soul.   So, this Christmas, I set about making several personal mugs for people on our list. I know some people feel like mugs are mere clutter for your cupboard, but I say you can never have too many!

So, here are a few of the ones I came up with. The first are monogrammed mugs that I made with ceramic paints found at any craft supply store. **A tip I love sharing is that when selecting colors, I usually stick with primary colors (red, yellow, blue, white, and black) because any color of the rainbow can be made from these colors, so if you are like me and a little cheap, it helps save money!  I used stencils I had on hand, handy for many personalized gifts, and taped them onto mugs I found for a song in pretty colors.I painted the letters in a solid color, then decorated each cup with a unique and delicate design. **Another tip when painting is to try not to paint too much over the edge of your stencil. I made this mistake, and part of my design started to come off with it when I went to remove it.  Remove stencil, allow it to dry and follow instructions on bottle for setting the paint.For those of you who have kiddos, we made some personal mugs that are great for gifts for grandparents, teachers, etc.  We started out using a permanent marker , with lots of newspaper under the mug so that none of it was transferred to our worktable (aka the kitchen table in our case) and I had the kids draw a design on the mug.  This was for our next door neighbor, so my daughter drew his face on it. I was so proud! She also wrote his name on it, with a little help ;).After she was done, I went over her picture with ceramic paints .   She helped me pick out the colors, of course.  Again, allow it to dry, then follow the instructions on the back of the bottle to set the paints so they are permanent.