Image

Okay so Felt Mats are Just as Addicting as Quiet Books…

After making a road felt mat for C for his 2nd birthday I wondered if I could make a princess version for J.  In case you’ve forgotten (oh, if only I could forget…) she is completely obsessed with the Disney Princesses.  She has a bunch of these pop up board games that came with tiny princess figurines to play.  I think we played the games about a dozen times before she completely abandoned them and now just carries the princesses around with her everywhere.  Between those and her sets of felt people, I thought it would be fun to make a princess mat for her to play on!

I started off like I do with all projects:  Pinterest.  Unsurprisingly these aren’t nearly as popular as the car mats are.  I found three possible inspirations.  First, a Tangled one on My Decoupaged Life.  Although I loved it, I didn’t want to focus on just one princess story.  In retrospect I do kind of wish I would’ve got this route instead–made a small felt mat for each princess.  I just might do that down the road…

The second one I found was a little bit different.  Instead of focusing on the outside, All the Joy made the inside of the castle.  I stored this idea away for the future.

The one I relied on the most for ideas was A Girl and a Glue Gun.  I decided to make a mat that included something from each princess story.

One mistake I made was to make this project while J was home sick from school for a week.  I got a lot of input from her, which was both good and bad.  Like she wouldn’t let me include anything for Mulan, Pocohantas or Merida, even though that had been my original plan.  She’s only had the mat for a couple of weeks and she’s already complaining that they don’t have a home.  I knew I shouldn’t take advice from a 5 year old!

When making all of the buildings I referred to Google images for pictures of what they looked like in the movies and then did my best to replicate them.  I did a better job on some…  The animals especially turned out rather interesting…

I started off with a piece of dark green felt for the background.  I added a square of white for Elsa’s kingdom and dark brown for the woods.  Together those two were the same length as the dark green.  I cut a strip of light blue for the sky that was the same width as the dark green/white.  Last, I cut some dark blue for Ariel’s ocean.  I cut the top so it resembled waves.

I also wish I would’ve made it bigger.  I didn’t realize just how much larger C’s mat was until I had already cut the background felt for J’s mat and it was too late to make it bigger without having to scrap the pieces I had.  It didn’t need to be much bigger, but a little bit would’ve been nicer.

But here’s the final product, warts and all!

J requested the North Mountain first…no surprises there.  I made an Ice Castle for Elsa.  I used blue and white puffy paint to embellish it a bit and glued just one side of the door down so it “opens”.  I cut out a sleigh and Sven, a bunch of white triangles to represent mountains or snow mounds or something.  The light blue is a path for the princesses to walk on (J requested markings on the part leading up to the castle for stairs).  Marshmallow is guarding the castle and Oaken’s Trading Post is in the bottom corner.  diy-princess-felt-mat-north-mountainNext we worked on the woods.  I made a stream that leads to the ocean.  There’s a bridge that crosses over it.  The woods are supposed to represent Pocahontas, Merida, Snow White and Aurora all at once.  J requested a bench, an owl, squirrels and the three fairies from Aurora (just in case you were wondering what the hell those shapes were, hahaha).  The orangish/brownish felt is the path.diy-princess-felt-mat-woodsThe ocean scene was up next.  This one turned out to be waaaaay to spacious.  I should’ve made Ariel’s castle a lot bigger, but I didn’t realize how small it was until I had already glued it together and I didn’t feel like starting from scratch.  But this section has Ariel’s underwater palace, Eric’s ship, sunken treasure (I just needed something to throw in there!), Sebastian, Flounder (not sure where he is…), Ursula and her lair.  I also made Flotsam and Jetsam but by the time I was ready to glue the underwater scene down I had lost them.  I think they ended up getting swept up with all of the other felt scraps.  I haven’t gotten around to making another one set of them yet.  diy-princess-felt-mat-ocean

And then the rest of mat all crammed together.  Aurora’s cottage and spinning wheel.  A bookstore and fountain from Beauty and the Beast.  The Snuggly Duckling, tower and cave from Tangled.  The Wishing Well from Snow White (J had me add a blue sapphire ring at the bottom.  There’s a short story about Cinderella we read once where she lost her ring in the well and the mice had to retrieve it).  A pumpkin and carriage from Cinderella.  Tiana’s Palace (which I had to fight J tooth and nail so I could add it).   The magic carpet from Aladdin.  And, most importantly, Cinderella’s castle.

diy-princess-felt-mat-kingdom

I also added a back to the mat.  Since I used a bunch of different felts to make the different backgrounds I figured it would help to make it roll up easier.  Although really this mat isn’t large enough to roll.

I finished the edges of the front and back with some ribbon.

Voila, finished!  J uses it all of the time, just like I thought she would.  I really am considering making a different mat for each story.  Hmmm, maybe I’ll start that right now…

quiet-book-ladybug-page-9
Image

Ladybug Quiet Book Page

The next quiet book page I made for Nolan’s Christmas present was the Ladybug page.  It’s a super simple page that’s also very popular–it’s all over the internet.  I decided to do one similar to this one, with a black zipper and snaps sewn on the backs of the spots.

I started off by cutting all of my pieces.  I have a ton of red costume fabric leftover from J’s Snow White Cape that I made for her last Halloween.  It’s not the most ideal fabric to work with, but it’s the only thing I had in plain red so it would have to do.  I cut out two half circles.  I cut another half circle out of a scrap of regular black cotton for the head and then seven circles from black felt for the spots.  quiet-book-ladybug-page-1I decided on 7 because I have a package of assorted sized snaps from a previous project and 7 was the most I had in the same size.  I figured it’d be too confusing if the snaps were different sizes.snapsI just eyeballed all of the pieces and I think the sizing actually turned out pretty well.  That definitely could’ve gone another way, hahaha!

I started off by hand sewing the snaps onto the red fabric and black felt dots.  
quiet-book-ladybug-page-8quiet-book-ladybug-page-3I absolutely despise hand sewing.  I was tempted to just use velcro instead, but I know it’s good for kids to learn the snaps–it helps with fine motor skills.  And I really hate using snaps.  The previous project I used them on was a Seasons page for J’s quiet book and I sewed a crapload of them on before I realized that I did them backwards–I put the bottom piece on the top and vice versa.  And then if I remember correctly (it was so traumatizing for me that I think I blocked it out) I sewed them on the wrong way on the Seasons pieces; instead of poking that part that sticks out into the fabric, I sewed it facing out.  Goosebumps just remembering that.  I think there were quite a few tears shed those days…

On the plus side that meant that I double-checked everything before I sewed it down.  And again after I sewed it down.  And again before I did the next snap.  Etc.  And I’m happy to say that I learned my lesson really well last time and I had zero problems with it this time!  Minus it being boring and time-consuming, of course.

I picked up a 7 inch black zipper from Joann’s and sewed it on.  I used my cheating method, as always.  I simply fold the raw edge of the fabric in about 1/4 inch and sew it as close as I can to the zipper.  Then repeat for the other side.quiet-book-ladybug-page-2Next I figured out where exactly I wanted the ladybug to go and sewed the black head down.  Since I was using fabric and not felt, I made sure use a zigzag stitch instead of a straight stitch to help with the fraying. I sewed it along the bottom and around the curve.  quiet-book-ladybug-page-4Then the ladybug, once again with a zigzag stitch. quiet-book-ladybug-page-5I added some googly eyes and twisted a pipe cleaner around my finger for antenna.  I hot glued them down.  quiet-book-ladybug-page-6And that’s it!  The dots are kept inside of the ladybug when not in use and then snap on to make her look beautiful.  Easy peasy! quiet-book-ladybug-page-10quiet-book-ladybug-page-9

diy-stepping-stone-7
Image

Step six: DIY Stepping Stones for the Grandparents

To go along with our Snowman Ornaments we decided to send handmade stepping stones.  This is a great gift because we can continue to give one every year if we want to…or really any year that we can’t think of a great handmade gift from the grandkids.  Last year we gave these awesome bird baths to everyone and originally I was thinking we could do a birdhouse to go with it this year, but it just seemed too difficult to mail.  We’ll save that idea for when the grandparents actually make it out to visit us for the holidays…which means never, haha.  Don’t even get me started on that category.  Apparently roads only go one way…

But anyway, the stepping stones.  I did a search on Pinterest (obviously) for some ideas.  After going through numerous sites I found this one to be the most helpful.  There are specific instructions, tips for each step and tons and tons of example stones.  I highly recommend thoroughly reading the article if you’re looking to make one yourself!

I made my list of supplies:

  • Mold.  I purchased either an 8 or 9 inch circle mold from Hobby Lobby.  It was only $4 but it turned out to be the most expensive thing I purchased that day, so I was able to use a 40% off coupon for it.
  • Concrete.  After reading the tips on the above website I decided on a sand/concrete mixture.  Turned out Lowes didn’t sell it, so I had to hit up Home Depot for it.  And of course the smallest bag they had was 60 lb.  Which I would like to say that I pulled it off of the shelf, put it on the cart and pulled it out of the cart and into my car all on my own at 7 months pregnant.  I kick ass.  It was cheaper in the store, so it was actually only $4.
  • Marbles.  We have a ton of glass marbles that I was planning on using for this project, but it turned out they were too big for what I wanted to do.  So I ended up purchasing two bags of small ball marbles from Michaels.  Each at a separate time, so each at $3 with a 40% off coupon.
  • Green Gems.  After the original idea I had to decorate the stones looked like crap I had to go in a new direction.  So I picked up some “crushed glass with glitter” (except mine was green) from Hobby Lobby for $4, once again with a 40% off coupon.
  • Spray paint sealer.  I had a hard time deciding what to buy.  They had clay pot sealers, but that sounded like it was more to keep the soil and water in a pot.  Then there was a UV one, but it didn’t say anything about water.  So finally I went with Krylon Acrylic Crystal Clear because it said it was moisture resistant.  I’ll let you know the results, haha!  It was around $10, minus yet another 40% off Michael’s coupon

And that’s it!  In total I spent about $18 for all 4 sets of grandparents (of course that doesn’t count shipping costs since 3/4 sets of grandparents are worthless…).  And the mold is still reusable and we have a ton of concrete and sealer leftover.  Now that’s how much we should be spending on Christmas!

I knew I wanted to put the kids’ handprints in there so it was just a matter of deciding on the design.  I didn’t want to do just plain handprints…I think that looks boring.  I thought we could put the handprints in a flower shape and then push different colored marbles in the impressions to make colorful flowers.  We did that with the first mold and it did not look good.  We just pitched that stone after it dried and went back to the drawing board.

I decided to try again with the flower idea, but this time painting the handprints instead of using marbles.  I used the green gems from Hobby Lobby for the stems and then wrote 2015 in the marble balls on the top.  They turned out much better.  And then since we used regular acrylic paint I picked up a can of sealer to hopefully keep it from fading/washing away.

So this is how we made the molds:

  1. Mix the concrete.  Hubby did this part.  He didn’t use any measurements, so each time he mixed it the consistency was completely different.  Two of the times he made it he had to get some paper towels to soak up some of the water because it was so liquidy that the handprints were just disappearing.  Now if this was me I would’ve measured the powder and the water the first time so I knew how much to use, but hey, to each their own!
  2. Add paint if coloring the stone.  I had half a jar of a sample size red paint that we used on the first (well, technically second) stone we made.  I really like the color of it and if I would’ve had more paint we would’ve colored the other ones too.  It adds to it nicely.  I wasn’t going to purchase paint specifically for this, though.
  3. Pour into the mold and let sit for 30-60 minutes.  Some of the watery ones we actually let sit for closer to two hours instead… diy-stepping-stone-5
  4. Handprints!  C had a blast with the handprints.  He laughed hysterically every time Hubby pushed his hands in.  It took two of us to get his–Hubby to hold his hands down and make sure he didn’t grab a handful of concrete and eat it (which is what he was trying to do) while I spun the mold in a circle to get the flower shape.  We did his first and then J had whatever room was left. diy-stepping-stone-4 diy-stepping-stone-2 diy-stepping-stone-3
  5. Decorate.  After Hubby took C away (usually straight into the bathtub) J and I pushed in the marbles.  The gems looked nice but since they were so small quite a few of them didn’t get pushed in enough and fell out after it finished drying.  Fortunately we used so many of them that you couldn’t tell some had disappeared.  We used the green gems for the stem/leaves and for “grass” along the bottom.  We pushed the red and blue balls in the top to form 2015. diy-stepping-stone-1
  6. Let it sit for at least 3 days. diy-stepping-stone-9
  7. Take it out.  The concrete slipped right out of the mold! diy-stepping-stone-10
  8. Paint!  I painted C’s handprints and J did hers. diy-stepping-stone-11
  9. Let dry for 24 hours.  Then Hubby sprayed it with the sealer.  At this point we were a little short on time so he actually sprayed all of them at once.  3 hours later we wrapped them in bubble wrap and loaded them into the flat rate Priority boxes to be shipped the next day.  They arrived Christmas Eve…was that great timing or what?!  Although they definitely should’ve aired out a little longer before being packed away.  They sat in my car in the boxes overnight and when I got in to drive to the post office I think I got a little high during the 3 minute drive.  That stuff was strong!

And that’s it!  I think they turned out pretty cute.  We made 5 total:  four for the grandparents and one for ourselves.  diy-stepping-stone-8diy-stepping-stone-6 diy-stepping-stone-7 The top one is the first one we made, as I’m sure you can tell.  That was before I purchased the smaller beads for the year and decided to stick with the green gems for the stem as well as the grass.  It’s also the one we poured the red paint into, so at least that part turned out well!

I don’t have a picture of the fourth one we made, for my parents, because they came down to visit us for the holidays so I didn’t have to ship theirs.  Which meant we just barely finished it in time and I didn’t even think about snapping a quick photo beforehand.

Hubby’s dad said “Oh that’s too nice for people to step on; I think I’m going to build something to display it on the porch!”, which I thought was pretty neat.  And then he followed that up by asking “Are those the grandkids’ handprints on there?”  No, Gary, they’re the kids down the street.  Sigh.

diy-fort-kit-19
Image

Step five: DIY Fort Kit for my brothers

I have two younger brothers, currently 7 and 9.  Technically they’re not related to me but it’s a long story and for all intents and purposes, they are.  I absolutely hate buying them presents for Christmas because it’s impossible to find something.  First, they’re ridiculously spoiled.  The amount of crap they have is astounding.  Second, they destroy everything.  Third, they don’t do anything except play video games anyway.  Nothing irritates me more than spending money on something that isn’t going to get used.  Last year I came up with a brilliant (and super cheap) idea:  DIY Marshmallow Guns.  I have no idea what tutorial I used but I don’t think it matters…they’re all pretty simple.  We spent less than $5 on both of them and although I doubt they were used at all after Christmas morning, I’m totally fine with it for that price!

I scoured Pinterest and the internet for another DIY idea for this year.  I never realized how difficult it is to find stuff like that for boys that age!  Everything just seemed dumb.  Finally I stumbled on DIY Fort Kits.  I was on the fence about whether or not it would be used, but I never found a better idea so a Fort Kit it is!

I checked out just about all of the tutorials on the general Pinterest search above.  I followed Pie Birds‘ tutorial the closest, but pulled ideas from other random ones that I added to it.

I made my list:

**2 twin flat sheets
**rope
**flash light
**clamps
**glow sticks
**clothes pins
**suction cups
**grosgrain ribbon for the ties 140 in

Everything was super simple to find except the sheets.  I bought all of it minus the ribbon and sheets from the Dollar Tree…best store ever!  I took it all of the original packaging and put it in some plain ziplock bags.  diy-fort-kit-8I picked the ribbon up from either Hobby Lobby or Joann’s…I can’t remember for sure now.  It was just two rolls of plain white grosgrain ribbon.  Which I don’t know why I had 140 inches put down…I didn’t even end up using all of one roll!  Darn, could’ve saved myself $3…

I looked everywhere for cheap sheets.  Walmart, Target, Ross, Marshalls, Goodwill and 3 local thrift shops.  They were all so expensive!!  I mean come on Goodwill, who pays $5 for a used single twin sheet?!  I finally struck gold at Big Lots and found a set of sheets on clearance for $7.  And not just any sheets…CAMO!  Perfect!!

Although flat sheets work so much better I decided that the fitted sheet would do.  Especially since I’m not even sure if they’re going to actually use this kit beyond the first day.  At first I was going to trim all around it, getting rid of the fitted part then folding the raw edges in and hemming it.  I decided that was entirely too much work.  Especially since I don’t understand why the fitted sheet won’t work, especially if you pull it tight.

First I cut the ribbon.  I cut 6 pieces that were approximately 12 inches long.  I folded them in half and then pinned them onto the fitted sheet.diy-fort-kit-2I sewed them on.  I used a straight stitch back and forth across the top (at the end of the sheet) about 6 times to make sure it would hold.  Then I zigzagged the other 3 sides to help keep the ribbon from fraying. diy-fort-kit-3I put one on each “corner” and one in the middle of each of the long sides.diy-fort-kit-1Done.  In my search I found two ways to attach the ribbon:  either in a loop, like I used above, or with two open ends so they can be tied.  I had no idea which way would work better so I decided to make one sheet with loops and the other with ties.  So for the flat sheet I cut 8 pieces of ribbon, this time about 20 inches each.  I folded each piece into a V shape and pinned it on.  I sewed them the same way as above:  a straight stitch a whole bunch of times along the edge of the sheet and then a zigzag for the other three sides.  diy-fort-kit-5I sewed one onto each corner and then one in the middle of each of the 4 sides.diy-fort-kit-4I had also seen a tip somewhere along the way that if you fold the corners in and sew them down it makes an opening for the rope to slide through.  I decided to do that as well.  Why not?diy-fort-kit-6Since this was a complete sheet set it also included a pillow.  I debated for a few minutes and then decided I mine as well use that too.  I cut it open on three sides so it was as big as possible, folded the edges in and sewed them closed. Then I cut four more pieces of ribbon, looped them like I did for the fitted sheet, placed them in the middle of each of the four sides and then folded the corners in like I did on the flat sheet for the rope to slide through.diy-fort-kit-7Sheets were done!  Now I just needed a bag.  Fortunately I’ve made a ton of those peek-a-boo storage bags for kids toys a couple years back so I already knew exactly how to make one (someday I’ll do a post on those.  Maybe).  It was even easier to make this bag though since it didn’t need a window.  I went through my fabric file and picked out a camo print.  I unfolded it and set all of my supplies on it to see how big I needed to make it. I made sure to cut it plenty big.  Of course I have no idea what the dimensions are.diy-fort-kit-9Then I took all of the stuff off, folded it in half (right sides together) and sewed the side and bottom edges.  It looked like a gigantic pillowcase.diy-fort-kit-13The downside to using this fabric was it turned out it was a jersey knit.  Which meant it folded up on me.  A lot.  And I was entirely too lazy to pull out my iron to make life easier.  See, this is why everything I sew turns out half-assed!  I mean it would’ve taken me 2 minutes to pull out my iron, plug it in, wait for it to get hot and then use it.  Lazy, lazy, lazy.

Next I made a casing for the rope at the top.  This is where the jersey knit really irritated me.  Normally I would fold the top edge down about a 1/4 inch and then fold it again to make sure that all of the raw edges are hidden, but that was impossible this time.  So I just folded it down once and then zigzagged it instead.  diy-fort-kit-14I left an opening about an inch wide about halfway on the front for the drawstring.  diy-fort-kit-15Then I picked out some string.  When a fabric store near me in Canada was going out of business I made sure to stock up on drawstring in a major way since I was making a ton of those peek a boo bags.  Which meant that I had a bunch of options.  I went with beige.  I attached a safety pin onto the end to make threading easier and then pulled it through the bag.  Normally I would attach the other end to the bag to make sure it didn’t get lost along the way, but I made the string so long that there wasn’t any fear of that.  I have absolutely no idea how long I cut the string.  Maybe about twice the width of the bag?  I just know it ended up being barely enough.  diy-fort-kit-17diy-fort-kit-16And that was it!  The bag was finished! diy-fort-kit-18Turned out that for once in my life I drastically overmeasured!  Once it’s all in there and closed the bag is only about half full.  Which I’m perfectly fine with.  Always better too large than too small!

I made a tag in my Silhouette program, printed it on regular printer paper and then laminated it using my awesome laminator.  I punched a hole in it and attached it onto the bag.  There we go, a Christmas present for two boys for less than $15 that’s original.  It may or may not get used, but whatever!  And I love this idea so much that I think as J and C get older we’ll be giving it to their friends as birthday gifts!  Another win! diy-fort-kit-19

quiet-book-toothbrush-page-5
Image

Brush your teeth and hair!

For my “fake” nephew’s two year birthday I made 4 new quiet book pages for the Quiet Book I gave him last year for Christmas.  While at the beach with their family over the summer I learned there’s nothing more Nolan hates than getting his teeth brushed.  I figured that might be a fun quiet book page for him…and who knows, maybe it’ll make the ordeal slightly less awful for his parents every night!  Long shot, I know, but still worth a try!

Imagine Our Life has a kick-ass tooth brushing page.  No surprise there since all of her pages are A-MAZ-ING.  I decided that I didn’t want to go to that much effort for Nolan’s page.  Simple is what I’m going for!  I did use her idea to stuff the toothpaste tube with a crinkly wrapper so it would make some noise though.  Great touch that took little effort–that’s what I like, haha.

Tangible Pursuits quiet book page was more along my lines.  Simple and to the point!  I liked how she added a comb in too–it gives the page a little bit more to do.  I decided to design mine differently so I wouldn’t waste two pages on this simple design–a pocket to keep the toothbrush, comb and toothpaste in.

I made a template in my Silhouette Studio program.  quiet-book-toothbrush-page-templateI used my machine to cut out the face in tan felt (I can’t cut a circle in a straight line to save my life!), but I ended up hand cutting the rest of the felt face pieces.  First I sewed the black pupils inside the eyes, and then the eyes onto the face.  I sewed the red mouth down, followed by all of the teeth.  I just sewed a “straight” line across the top of the top row of teeth and the bottom of the bottom row so they can move and wiggle.  Just in case you couldn’t tell, I did not pin the teeth down before sewing.  Poor kid really needs to see a dentist.  SOON.quiet-book-toothbrush-page-7Finally I sewed the head onto the page.  I put him down near the bottom, leaving plenty of room for the pocket.quiet-book-toothbrush-page-8I had three colors of yarn:  red, yellow and green.  I decided to make him a ginger since they get such a bad rap.  I played around with the yarn, figuring out how long I wanted his hair to be and then looped the yarn over and over and over again until I had enough to go across the top of his head.  Then I placed it on the page and sewed across his head one way and then back the other way.  quiet-book-toothbrush-page-6The toothpaste was next.  I found some scraps of fabric–yellow for the tube and blue for the toothpaste.  I simply cut two toothpaste-tube shapes out of the yellow and sewed them together, leaving the top open.  I flipped it inside out so the seams were hidden and ironed on the white fabric letters spelling TOOTHPASTE I had used my Silhouette to cut for me.quiet-book-toothbrush-page-3I lost the A, S and T somewhere between my Cameo and sewing station (those suckers are TINY!) so I just hand cut some out.  Would’ve never noticed if I hadn’t pointed them out, huh?  Seriously, how people are able to cut things by hand is beyond me.  Those letters look horrendous and they were my fifth try!

I found some leftover cellophane in my quiet book craft box that I was saving for an occasion just like this and stuffed it inside the tube.  Next I cut out 4 scraps of blue in a wiggly shape to represent the toothpaste.  I folded them in half, shoved them inside and sewed the tube shut.  Voila, toothpaste!quiet-book-toothbrush-page-2The pocket was next.  I cut a large rectangle out of red polka dot fabric, folded the edges in and ironed them so they were straight, sewed the top down, pinned it on my page and then sewed the other three sides down.  I cut a skinny rectangle that was slightly longer than my pocket for the top flap.  I did the same thing–ironed the folded edges down, sewed three of the four, pinned it on the page and then sewed the last one on.quiet-book-toothbrush-page-4J has a beauty salon kit that has about 3 brushes and 6 combs in it, so I just snagged one from there.  I picked up a toddler toothbrush at the grocery store for $1 (it’s not pictured below because I didn’t have it at that point.  I literally picked it up from the grocery store, came home, added it to the page, wrapped the pages, stuck them in a large envelope and headed to the post office.  I procrastinated that one so much that I was starting to wonder if I was going to have to include a note that told Amanda she had to buy a toothbrush to add to it, haha).  quiet-book-toothbrush-page-1quiet-book-toothbrush-page-5I like the simplicity of the page.  I do wish that the pocket and head had been sewn on a little straighter.  And I didn’t bother to put velcro on the pocket, thinking it would be big enough to hold everything, no problem.  It does indeed hold it all–barely.  So I’m sure that stuff will be falling out in regular intervals.  Whoops…

diy-chalkboard-wine-glasses-1
Image

DIY Chalkboard Wine Glasses

My little sister got married three weeks ago (aaah, I can’t believe it’s been that long already!!).  Since I was the matron of honor I was automatically put in charge of planning the Bridal Shower.  Fortunately B had seven bridesmaids in her wedding so the planning/work/decorating/cost was much better than I could’ve hoped for!  I went into details about the beach-themed shower itself in my last post, here.  This is where I’ll give instructions on the Chalkboard Wine Glasses we handed out to the guests as favors.

Since there was obviously going to be alcohol at the bridal shower (it really is the only thing that makes them bearable isn’t it??), I figured that we’d kill two birds with one stone and have the favors be wine glasses.  And we could jazz them up/make them even more convenient by dipping the stems into chalkboard paint so there wouldn’t be any confusion as to whose was whose at the shower.  I’m brilliant, I know.

First step was securing the wine glasses.  Although the Dollar Tree sells nice large ones for $1, the guest list was in the 30s and I didn’t want to shell out that much money for favors.  We were headed to the DC IKEA to check out some furniture anyway and I saw these online, 6/$4.  Once I got there and looked at them I decided they were way too small, and purchased the SVALKAs instead; 36 glasses for 79 cents each.  Not quite as cheap as I was hoping to go, but still decent.diy-chalkboard-wine-glasses-7I already had chalkboard paint at home from J’s Art Activity Center.  I purchased it off of Amazon about 2 years ago and still had 3/4 of a can left.  diy-chalkboard-wine-glasses-3Last but not least:  some clear cut instructions.  I headed to my go-to, Pinterest.  This tutorial from Scissors and Spatulas had all of the information that I could possibly need.  Armed with some Scotch tape, 36 wine glasses, chalkboard paint, some leftover cardboard, parchment paper, a “paint stick” (which was just an actual stick I found laying in the yard) and an old towel I was ready to rock and roll.

I started by wrapping Scotch tape around the bottom of the cup, where it and the stem meet.  diy-chalkboard-wine-glasses-8I taped the first 6 glasses there, and then decided that was using up entirely too much paint.  The next box of 6 I taped at the bottom, where the stem and flat part (??) meet.  After dipping that box of 6, I decided tape was completely unnecessary.  It was easy to just dip it in and leave it as is.

Instead of pouring the paint into a disposable container and dipping the glass in, I just dipped it straight into the paint can.diy-chalkboard-wine-glasses-4I held the glass over the paint can for several minutes, waiting for the paint to drip off.  I also used my finger to wipe a bunch of paint off of the underside of the flat part since a bunch of paint gathered in the crevice.  Not only was that a waste of paint, but you don’t look at the bottom of the glass anyway.  That helped the drying process quite a bit.

I was having a lot of problems with bubbles.  Like a lot.  After I pulled the glass out of the paint I looked at it immediately.  If there were a bunch of air bubbles on it, like below, then I would grab the towel and wipe off as much paint as possible.diy-chalkboard-wine-glasses-2As you can tell by the state of my towel, I had to wipe off quite a few glasses before I finally got the bubble situation under control.diy-chalkboard-wine-glasses-6

I stirred the paint vigorously with a stick for 25 seconds (it took a lot of trial and error to find the exact number of seconds to stir) and then dip the glass in the paint immediately.  That seemed to do the trick.

After enough paint dripped off I placed the glass right side up on sheets of parchment paper.  diy-chalkboard-wine-glasses-5I let them dry for about 30 minutes and then moved them to a different part of the paper so they wouldn’t stick to it.  I shifted them to different spots 3 times before they were dry enough to flip upside down to dry the rest of the way without dripping.diy-chalkboard-wine-glasses-8See how some of them are super messy around the bottom?  This is the reason I started wiping the excess paint off of the bottom.  Otherwise there was way too much and it pooled while drying.  That and I probably left a couple in the same spot for a bit too long, haha.  After they were completely dry I just took some sandpaper and smoothed around the edges.

I ended up doing the wine glasses in 6 batches of 6, which ended up being a brilliant idea.  I learned so much from each batch and was able to make the changes so by the time I got around to the last box I had it down to a science.  These are the things I learned:

  • no need to dip up the whole way up the stem.  It’s a waste of paint and I think the ones with just the bottom done actually look nicer.
  • no need to use tape, especially if only dipping the flat part.  Eyeballing it worked perfectly fine.  And peeling off that tape was a pain in the ass.
  • Bubbles!!!  Swirl swirl swirl, then dip immediately.  And if they do appear, it’s simple to just wipe the paint off with a towel really quickly and redo the glass immediately
  • wipe off the excess paint from the underside of the bottom.  Since the glass kind of tapers up in the middle where the stem is, the paint tends to pool there.  And not only does it take longer to dry, but it drips everywhere.  And if you wipe it off with your finger the paint spreads out thick enough and you can’t even tell it was wiped off.

That was it!  We picked up some paper umbrellas from Five Below to go with the beach theme, threw a baggie of chalk down and the favors were finished!   And they turned out nice enough that people assumed I bought them like that and were astonished when I said I made them.  There’s no bigger compliment!diy-chalkboard-wine-glasses-1

 

 

Image

A FANTASTIC Homemade Gift for Family!

My family members (as in the ones I grew up with, not the ones I have now) are impossible to buy presents for.  Well, my father and stepmother are.  My siblings are super easy.  For the last 15 years each of my 3 grown-up siblings (I have 2 young step-brothers so they still get “actual” presents) get two $25 gift cards to a place of their choosing:  one for their birthday and one for Christmas.  Takes the guesswork right out of it!  My father and Nan are a whole different ball game though.  They don’t remember to use gift cards, so those are out.  They’re adults, so when they want/need something they just go out and buy it.  My father has gotten easier to shop for in the last few years.  Now that my siblings are all grown up and have their own jobs we all just go in on one big expensive present that he wants, like a recliner or big screen TV.  This year I think we got him a car dolly for his RV?  I’m not even sure…my sister just told me how much to write the check for and she took care of the details.

We still needed something for Nan though.  While browsing Pinterest (my–and everyone else’s–favorite website ever for a nice DIY gift) I stumbled across the GREATEST IDEA EVER.  A homemade bird bath!  Nan likes to garden and she has a few bird feeders in the trees in her backyard.  She would go totally nuts for something like this, especially if we added some kid handprints to it and whatnot.

I did some research on Pinterest and found all kinds of DIY bird baths.  I decided I liked this one the best.  Although I think the paint pour looks really awesome, I decided to just spray paint the entire thing and then add our handprints all around it.  I also thought it would look neat to put marbles on the bottom of the bath itself.

First stop:  Michaels.  I found the clay pots and experimented with the different sizes.  As usual I’m going to have to apologize since I don’t know what exact sizes I bought.  I think I ended up going with 4 9 inch pots, a clay tray slightly larger than the pots for the bottom, the largest tray they had for the bird bath, the smallest tray for the bird seed and 1 tiny pot (I think it was 2 inches) to hold the bird seed tray.  I wanted to comparison shop on the prices for the pots but since it was December Michaels was the only place that had them in stock.  They actually weren’t that much, plus I used a 40% coupon for the most expensive one.  I spent less than $15 total on the clay pieces.

Second stop:  Lowes.  I wanted some high quality outdoor spray paint.  I had to pick up some PVC pipe for the DIY Marshmallow shooters I was giving my 6 & 8 year old brothers for Christmas, so I grabbed some spray paint while I was already there.  I ended up going with Valspar outdoor.  It was twice as much as the off-brand, but worth every penny.  It turned out really shiny and a gorgeous color!

valspar-outdoor-spray-paint-teal

Final stop:  back to Michaels.  I wanted to figure out what color I was making the bird bath before purchasing the marbles for the bottom.  Plus I wanted to use another 40% off coupon since those suckers are expensive!  I checked the dollar store first, but they only had white and black; no colors.  I went with a mixed bag of purples/teals/clears/whites that I thought would coordinate well.

Time to start!  I stacked my pieces together one at a time, using a layer of E6000 adhesive to hold them together.

DIY-Bird-Bath-Glued

I adore this stuff.  It’s cheap, lasts forever and will adhere anything together.  Unfortunately the last time I used it I must not have put the cap back on correctly because the hole was glued shut.  I had to kind of roll it up to push it out and that cracked the sides so glue was coming out everywhere.  I had to pitch the half-full (oh, I must be an optimist!) container after I glued the bird bath together…there was no way to salvage the rest.  Oh well, at least it’s cheap!

E6000

I let it dry for a full 24 hours before moving it.  Not exactly the smartest idea to put it together in the kitchen when it needed to be spray painted in the garage.  Hubby didn’t appreciate that too much 😉

DIY-Bird-Bath

Since I’m a god-awful spray-painter (really any kind of painting…) I asked Hubby to do it for me.  I’m just too impatient to paint!  He sprayed a coat on, let it dry for the recommended time on the back of the can and then sprayed it a second time.  We let it dry for another full 24 hours after that before adding on the handprints.

Hubby (once again) carried the bird bath inside.  I went through my paint stash and picked out 4 colors that coordinated with the spray paint and marbles:  purple, grey, light blue and pink.  All 4 of us painted our hands a different color and pushed them on.  Doing C’s hands was extremely difficult.  There was paint everywhere.  It needed a bit more, so we added a ring of everyone’s fingerprints to the top and bottom trays.

DIY-Bird-Bath-Handprints

I wish I would’ve thought the handprints through a bit more and done them differently, but oh well.  Turned out good enough!

Next I pulled out some white puffy paint and wrote “Merry Christmas Memaw! 2014” along the ring of the birdbath tray.  I underestimated how much space that was going to take up so its placement is a bit weird, but whatever.  The marbles at the bottom were the final touch.  It took awhile (seriously, over an hour!), but I finally configured them in a way that looked the best.  Hubby’s brilliant idea to keep them in place without having to glue each individual one down was to pour a bunch of polyurethane that we had leftover from staining projects over top.  This turned out to be a bad idea for several reasons.  One:  he poured way too much in and it took over a week to dry (thank God I didn’t procrastinate for once in my life so we had plenty of time for it to dry!).  Two:  even after it dried it was pretty sticky.  Three:  since he poured so much in it dried yellow.  Four:  I’m a bit afraid that we’re going to poison the poor birds who swim in this bath.

DIY-Bird-Bath-Marbles

I sprayed the entire thing with a coat of outdoor sealer to keep the paint from chipping and voila!  Best present ever!

Even with it turning out so-so in a lot of ways, I was extremely happy with the end result.  It cost $22 to make it, it was the perfect type of gift for Nan, it was made with the kids’ help.  I think that’s what all of the grandparents & great-grandparents are going to get for Christmas next year!  Especially now that we’ve learned from our mistakes.  And eventually I want to make one for ourselves too…after we’ve made a whole bunch of them and know exactly what to do (and especially not do 😉 )