Thursday, June 27, 2013

Christmas Shrinky Dinks

For Christmas this (last?) year, I looked and looked for an idea for a homemade gift project Everett could help me with but, when finished, would be something very nice and useful.

And I came across Shrinky Dinks!

Getting him to color on the plastic was sometimes easy and fun, sometimes super frustrating (I had to stop quick if we had a rough start). He's not drawn to art very much yet (sorry for the pun). So getting him to do this project was harder than it would be for parents of kids who love to draw. As you can see, you have to use Sharpie markers. He had my complete attention while using those things.

I tried drawing the shapes on first and having him color in the lines, but I actually preferred having him draw more free-form, spotting passages I liked in the drawing, and cutting the shapes from there. This might not fly with an older kid who has a vision, but it didn't bother Everett at all (he was 2.5 at the time).

He liked seeing the plastic shrink, but I think an older kid might get a much bigger kick out of it. I still think it's SO COOL!!

To finish them, I sanded the edges and the side that wasn't drawn on, if it had imperfections. Then, on the side with the color, I brushed on a layer of matte Mod Podge and finally sprayed two layers of DecoArt Triple Thick. I liked the way they looked after the spray, but they never dried as hard as I would have liked. I was imagining some sort of epoxy-like finish, but that didn't happen. You could see finger prints and nail marks. Very disappointing. If we do this again, I might try this product called Gel Du Soleil.

Finally, I added a ring, a bead, and whatever finding was required.

For my parents-in-law and my sister-in-law, we made wine glass charms.

All the grandparents (Brian's parents and my parents) got key chains.

Each set of grandparents got a Christmas tree ornament.

My mom got earrings and a necklace pendant (she wears more jewelry than anyone else in the family).

Another picture of my mom's gift.

And my sister-in-law got a pendant (below).

Overall, it was a really fun project. Everything turned out beautifully. And Everett was so proud of his work (and still is when he sees them at his grandparents' houses). I was pretty ambitious with the number of objects we made, but this was our main gift for all our immediate family. The sanding and wire twisting took longer than I imagined. But that's usually the case with my projects. If you're thinking about doing this, I'd suggest trying it with older children and only aiming for a few finished pieces.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Shower Flowers

My wonderful mother-in-law and best friend Rachel planned and orchestrated our lovely shower for Lydia. But they did ask me to do one thing. Rachel had seen tissue paper flowers at another party and thought they would be a nice addition to the shower, and something I'd be excited to make. She was right! 

This was the invitation (this isn't ours, obviously, it's taken from the Tiny Prints website). I tried to match the colors. I thought it was interesting to have some punches of black at a baby shower, especially for a girl!

This is the blog I got the most inspiration from. She made her flowers to celebrate Cinco De Mayo, which I think is fun. When I was making them I was thinking "a dash baby shower, a dash fiesta."

My biggest deviation from her instructions, I thought they looked better with more than 6 sheets (as many as could still be stapled). Also, I experimented a lot with cutting the ends either curved or pointy to make petals. Those are some of my favorite. The ombre look is good too.

A slightly closer view of the flowers at the front door.

My dad took some fun, Georgia O'Keeffe-esque pictures of the flowers.

They're very light, so they're easy to hang with a piece of tape, as long as you find a good surface to attach them to.

My favorite photo from the day. Looks like there's light coming from the gift. We didn't have our nice camera yet, unfortunately. I'm excited to post some blogs from after the camera entered our life.

The flowers are also great because they store pretty easily. My mother-in-law just threw them all into a couple big garbage bags and put them in her basement. I borrowed them back to use at Everett's third birthday. I just had to fluff them up a bit and they were good as new!

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Puppet Party!

Over a year ago, I posted about making the invitations to Everett's 2nd birthday party. Well, I guess I should finally blog about it! I got a little sidetracked from blogging when I got pregnant with our daughter. I was actually pregnant during this party. I just didn't know it yet.

Ok, so last year, Everett had a puppet party!

It was such a fun event with family, friends, and food (and some puppets thrown in).

Of course, we had to have a puppet stage. We used the plans from this website to make it. And I'm still amazed we found that awesome material at my parents' church rummage sale! My mom volunteered to do the sewing, which was wonderful of her.

So one of our activities was putting on puppet shows. Here is my dad. He's actually a member of the puppet troupe at our local zoo!

Another activity was making puppets out of paper bags. These doubled as favors, since I'm not big into favors and neither are most of our friends.

 Of course, we had to try the puppets in the puppet stage!

Fortunately, it was a beautiful day, and the kids played outside a lot.

 They played in the water table.

The aspect of the party I spent the most time on was the food, no question. By the way, I made the letters out of scrapbook paper and simply taped them to a length of yard.

All the food looked like animals or faces, and most things were on sticks. We had olive penguins, mini happy face pizzas on sticks, bread stick snakes wrapped around sticks, mozzarella balls made to look like chicks with tomatoes . . . on sticks. Puppet food!

Check out my Pinterest board for sources! 

Of course, I had to make cake pops! They're like cake puppets!! But they were so hard to make and so so so ugly. I will never make them again.

But they were tasty!

It was a fun party! And I hope it inspires somebody someday.

I can't believe this was over a year ago, and my baby boy is already THREE! I'll blog about his third birthday next!

Halloween 2012

For some reason I haven't posted here in over a year (oh wait! I was pregnant and then had a baby--been busy).

In order to blog about Everett's recent 3rd birthday party, I need to post some of the backlog! So here we go:

Halloween was so fun this (last?) year. We had two good ideas and decided to do both! We didn't know if he would still like these characters the next year, and one of them would not have worked for trick or treating, so we went for it!

The first was Bob Ross!! The painter from PBS. Everett really likes this autotuned compilation, for a while there, he'd watch the Bob Ross, Julia Child, and Mr. Rogers songs (in that order) every night while brushing his teeth (luckily, we've moved on). 

I thought it would be fun and easy to make him Bob, and I was right, but I'm really glad we didn't try to trick or treat in this, mostly because the wig stayed on for 10 minutes at the longest, and I think it's too much to expect a 2 year old to carry props. 

But we got some great pictures. 

 We tried the costume on first at a local pumpkin patch. It was fun, but after seeing the pictures, I wanted to make some tweaks. Trim the wig more and draw on a thicker beard.

So that's what I did, and took some pictures at home.

I'm most proud of the palette. I cut cardboard that was already white and painted the colors with acrylic paint. Immodestly, I think his palette is the best I've seen of any Bob Ross costume.

His hair is a different matter. I couldn't find a kids' afro wig online, so I bought an adult wig and trimmed it. The size of the cap was no issue. In fact, it was quite small. Not sure it would have fit me or my husband well. But these cheapo wigs are not meant to be trimmed, so it got pretty ugly as it got shorter. I think the other (crazy) moms who've dressed their kids as Bob Ross have used shorter adult wigs. They're not really afros on adults, but they look pretty good on the kids.

Well, we got a kick out of it. And someday Everett will think the pictures are pretty funny, I'm sure.

His second, "real" costume was Curious George!! And Brian was the man with the yellow hat!

At the time, Curious George was definitely Everett's favorite character, and considering his size, and Brian's physicality, I thought they were perfect costumes.

It was quite a lot of work, but it's always so hard to know that beforehand.

I found Brian's shirt and pants at Goodwill. A white 100% cotton mens dress shirt and white 100% cotton womens jeans that I dyed yellow. The tie was a white hemp tie Brian already had (but never wore). Along with the clothes, I dyed a few yards of thick cotton material I later used to cover the hat.

Luckily, Lemon Yellow Rit Dye was the perfect color, so I didn't need to do any mixing. I did dye the shirt twice because it didn't come out as saturated as the other pieces the first time. Unfortunately, all that dying and rinsing in hot water and trips through the dryer shrunk it a bit, so the arms were a little short. Bummer.

I made the polka dots on the tie with a sponge I cut to size. I then had to fill the dots in with a brush. I used acrylic paint. There are two Curious George variations, the book and the new movies/TV show. For the new versions, they redesigned George and the man a bit. One difference is the tie. In the books, the man has lots of little dots on his tie. In the new version, he has just a few big dots. I decided to go somewhere in between, because I thought it looked best.

When I designed the George cap for Everett, I went with the new version with the widow's peak and the hair sticking out the side. I just thought, the more identifying markers the better.

I got the sweatsuit from Walmart. Halloween seems to be the one time of year I go to Walmart. And although I wasn't looking for it specifically, I'm glad my only option was a turtleneck. It worked well.

I made Brian's hat out of paper mache.  I covered and bucket in plastic (first putting a bit of cotton on top to encourage rounding), and paper mached with strips of newspaper over the bucket, then attached a cardboard brim. I paper mached the hat to the brim with the newspaper strips. Then I made a paper mache "clay" with the same newspaper, water, and flour (but torn and swished up) to even out the bumps in the hat.

When it was all dry (it took a few days), I covered the hat with yellow cloth. I had enough material that I covered it twice to help smooth it out more. That may have worked a teeny tiny bit. I made a band with extra material from the monkey cap and painted it black (I didn't have any black material). I did all the hat covering with hot glue. 

With hindsight, I would have tried to make the hat a lot more comfortable. The head opening wasn't quite big enough, so Brian had to hold his head a certain way to keep it on. It was also very heavy with all the layers of paper mache. I didn't realize how awful the hat was to wear until the Halloween festivities were over. We were walking back to our car and I put it on. Ouch! I couldn't stand it for 10 minutes. And my husband put up with it for days without complaining. What a guy!

I can also say "what a guy!" because Brian did all the sewing! My 1964 Singer Featherweight decided a while ago that it hates me, and for years, anything I've tried to sew has been a frustrating disappointment. Brian's pretty mechanical, and I asked him to take a look at it as a machine. He got it to work, but whenever I would try, things would seize up again. So he banished me from the machine and just had me instruct him on what to sew.

I won't go into how I designed the monkey cap and Brian's spats (we couldn't find or afford the appropriate boots). I'm not a seamstress at all, and it involved a lot of trial and error and nothing was perfect, not even close. Looked good, though!

I painting his ears instead of trying to find the exact color fabric.

I'm really happy with how everything came out. Another successful Halloween costumed!

But . . . 

The yellow man/George costumes met a sad/strange end (?). I offered them to the ladies on a local online mommy forum I'm a part of. One sweet woman said she was interested. She lives in Nipomo, so when we went that way to visit Brian's grandfather in Guadalupe, we left a bag on her doorstep. Well, turns out, it wasn't her doorstep. We left it at the right number one street over. Oops! What a weird thing to find on your doorstep with no explanation!! It's so absurd it's funny.