Saturday, November 28, 2015

Festive Felt

I know lots of people take the day after Thanksgiving to knock out their holiday gift shopping, but we prefer to stay far, far away from those crowds.  We stayed home making cute felt crafts instead.

My sister-in-law made this amazing DC landmark banner...

My husband's aunt made this darling ombre tree banner...

My mother-in-law made this awesome mod Christmas tree banner...

And I made a bunch of little cute things I saw on Pinterest

Each of mine have easy tutorials on Pinterest already (links below), but I couldn't find a great one for the woven heart without a video on there.  Once I got the hang of it, it was pretty easy, so I thought you guys might want some pictures for when streaming a video is just not an option.

Fold a piece of felt in half, and cut out 2 same size domes (flat edge is the fold, below).  Your 3 cuts for the woven pieces will be deeper than you think they should be.

The end of your first row should look something like this:

Keep repeating, alternating colors until the last row...

Which should go like this:




Flip this upside-down in your mind.  Sorry.

I don't know why this is sideways.  Sorry.


Here are the links to the other tutorials/inspirations!

Twirly Green and Red Cuties:

Little Bear (I didn't stuff mine like she did, and just freehanded the felt cuts and the Kiddo drew/assembled the features, but she has a pattern!):

Stacked tree (hers are way cuter than mine - 3 colors of felt look better than just 2!):

Monday, November 2, 2015

A New Thanksgiving tradition - Pie Playoffs

We are a house divided.  Thanksgiving is my husband's favorite holiday. I think it's lovely, but crushingly boring, as holidays go.

So when we hosted his entire side of the family at our house one year, I was determined to make it extra special.

I came up with the idea of the Pie Playoffs - The Very Sweet 16.  4 divisions, Apple, Squash, Nut, and a Wild Card.

And because I am an obsessive and delusional person, I decided to make all 16 pies myself, as well as every single dish of regular food.  I do not recommend this, though it does cut down on hurt feelings when someone's pie doesn't win, so there was a tiny kernel of logic in my decision to spend 36 hours in the kitchen.

Each guest got assigned an initial judging division, merging as pies made their way through the tournament.

This year, the Mr. is using the pie playoff model for his office Thanksgiving potluck.  If you'd like to add a little competitive spice to your Thanksgiving, here's a bracket you can use as a model!

Thursday, October 29, 2015

A Storybook Halloween!

A little off topic, but I couldn't resist...

The Kiddo's school asks that they dress up as favorite story book characters instead of their commercial Halloween costumes.

Last year, the DAY BEFORE, my sweet child decided he just had to be Paddington Bear.

I couldn't find a floppy red hat, so I got the closest thing at Party City's costume department, and some red hairspray.  The hat was made of wool, and that's kind of like hair, right?

Sorry, Mr. Bear...

Then I cut the ears off a teddy bear (purchased for the express purpose of donating his ears, I'm not a complete monster) and attached them to the brim with some liquid stitch.

I snagged some brown corduroy pants and a cozy sweater to complete the bear-look while still being comfy and easy to wear all day at school.  Of course, Paddington needs a toggle coat, too!  I found the entire outfit at a local kid's secondhand store.

I made some tags out of regular printer paper (tie the "wanted on voyage" to their backpack for extra cuteness), with holes reinforced by some cute tape.

On the morning of costume day, I drew a cute nose on the kid with brown eyeliner, and he was a perfect Paddington Bear.

* * *

This year, The Kiddo made it a lot easier on me, picking Milo from Phantom Tollbooth.

Khakis, dark long sleeve shirt, and some white shoes.  Boom.  Print out a Map of the Kingdom of Wisdom, and wrap a big watch around a stuffed pup named Tock.

 If your pup is too big, you can always use a zip tie to keep it on!

Pup is from Ikea, watch from Target's clearance section.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Empire Dresser

I'm still on my slow mission to incorporate more antiques and minimize my reliance on IKEA furniture, but I checked off another piece this weekend - my new old empire dresser.

It took me 6 months to actually finish this.  There was snow on the ground when we picked this up. I hate sanding a lot, is what I'm saying.  

But a few factors made this project a little easier than it might have been, and you probably want to keep them in mind unless you really like frustrating DIY projects:
  • This guy is solid wood.  No veneer to match and patch.
  • I made sure to read the back of my stripper container, and only used it when the garage was within the recommended temperature range.
  • My new favorite power tool, the random orbital sander.  Just kidding, I still hate sanding, but I'd hate it even more if I had to sand this beast by hand.
  • Some supports had already been added to the drawer bottoms, and they pulled out smoothly.  This project was entirely cosmetic.

Here's what we started with.  Not awful, but still needing some love.  Which is why I picked it up for almost nothing.  And I'm never scared of a little sweat-equity project.  

As soon as I started stripping the old stain off, the wood underneath revealed itself to be gorgeous (if not wholly a consistent variety throughout the piece).  Someone asked if I was going to chalk paint this, and...look, I know chalk paint has its lovers, and can transform chippy veneered pieces into something adorable.  But if you have an antique, solid wood anything, and it's in great shape, and you chalk paint it, I'm not entirely sure we can be BFFs.  

After 1 round of stripping, I was still working through layers of the thick, gloopy, waxy finish.

After the second round of stripping and sanding, I finally reached bare wood.  It doesn't look like much, when its dry and covered in sanding dust, but if you get your wood a little damp, you can see its true colors shine through...

I really didn't want to cover any of the natural beauty of the wood, so after one final round of sanding and tack cloth, I rubbed everything down with a generous dose of Danish Oil.  It lets the beauty of the wood come alive without adding any unnecessary extra color, and it's really moisturizing.

The pulls that came with the dresser are obviously not the original pulls (those would probably have been simple wood, given its age), but I think their shape and style really suit the piece.  Still, I didn't love the color (and the tarnish), so after a quick Jasco bath and scrub, I spray painted them a metallic oil rubbed bronze.

One step closer to the dream house...

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Home Made Height Chart

Since the Kiddo is now a big first grader (and speeding himself toward outgrowing our old Ikea height chart decal), I thought it was time to finally get around to the homemade height chart I'd been planning.

It turned out way better (and less expensive!) than I thought.  I'd seen cute ones like this for $60-70, but I made mine for about $20.  

We started with this, if you remember:

I started out with an pine board from Lowes, 6' long, 10" wide.  Nothing fancy, not even the stain-grade lumber.  I don't mind a knot or two for this project.  Gave it a quick sand to get the stamps off and smooth any errant rough bits, and tack-cloth'd the sanding dust.

Then it was time to figure out the size and shape of the numbers.  I thought bigger looked better, here. 

My printer is being cantankerous, so I had to freehand my numbers and cut them out to trace their outlines.

Then I filled in my pencil outlines with a black paint pen.  I had more than enough in one pen to do this whole project.

I'm not above using the tools within easy reach for all projects.  Legos get put to work in this house in some unexpected ways.  Like templates for the inch dashes running up the side.

Then, it was time to address the wood.  My inspiration for this project was an old ruler that used to belong to my great grandfather.  It's an odd heirloom, to be sure, but I love it.

I grabbed the Wheat Rust-Oleum wood stain because the pine sample at Lowes was the closest to what I had in my brain.   

Then I used a foam brush and slopped on a coat over everything.

After a few minutes, I wiped the excess off with a paper towel.

I'd saved the other side of the board in case as a second-try option in case it didn't come out like I'd planned.  Fortunately, it came out exactly as I expected (and I'd say I did pretty well on the color match!), so after an hour, when the front was dry, I repeated the stain on the back.

Then I transferred of all of Kiddo's height markings and hung up the height chart he won't be outgrowing any time soon.

Approximate Cost breakdown for this project:

Pine board - 8
Stain - 5
Paint Pen - 4
Hanging Brackets - 3