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My latest chalkboard design on display in my home. I’m trying to rouse the troops over here.image  I’ll let you know how it goes.

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Rosette Wreath from Coffee Filters and Sheet Music

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Helloooooo friends. I know, I know, long time no blog.  I have no excuse, so please just accept my apologies. Today I’m giving a quick tutorial on the above wreath I made using coffee filters and sheet music.

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The coffee filters I used are the cheap, round, ruffle type.  For the wreath (it’s on a 14″ form) I made about 115 rosettes of which about 70 were constructed from the coffee filters.

So first off, you want to use a dry (no steam), hot iron and flatten out your coffee filters. Do these in batches since the humidity in the air will try to return them to their natural ruffle state.  I think I did about a dozen at a time.

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Now using a pencil I drew a spiral on one starting at the outside edge heading towards the middle.

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The trick here is to try to make your spiral sections about the same width like so

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Ok, now I don’t show this in the picture, but stack about 6 coffee filters neatly together then cut along the line – so that you’re cutting out 6 at a time. If you have sharper scissors than I, stack more at a time to cut more at a time.

Each should now look like this…

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Now, heat up your glue gun and start rolling.  Starting at the outside edge of the circle, roll the end in tightly.

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Keep rolling all the way to the center until it looks like this.

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The rosettes will be wound very tightly, but I like them a little looser (like I like my men😉) so I held the rosette in my palm then made like a “cage” with my hands and shook the rosette around for a few seconds. This allows it to unwind just a bit, leaving you with something that is less bud-like, and more rosette-Ish.

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Looking good! Now turn out the little coin of paper that once was the center of the coffee filter and now is at the very bottom of your flower.

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 This is where you’re going to put a liberal amount of hot glue.  Once you’ve done that, let the rest of the rosette rest on the glue and take a few seconds before the glue dries to make any adjustments you think are necessary.  Remember they are supposed to mimic their natural counterparts so you don’t want complete uniformity.

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You have just mastered the paper rosette.

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For the sheet music rosettes, I had bought a book of sheet music at my local thrift store awhile back, knowing that I would find a good craft project for it some day.  The day finally came!  I ripped out about 45 pages and, with about six sheets stacked together at a time, traced and cut out a circle.

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Now just repeat the above steps for all of these circles to make your sheet music rosettes.

Once you are done rolling, rolling, rolling those flowers, it’s time to assemble your wreath. I forgot to photograph along the way, but it’s super easy.

Get yourself a 14 – 16 inch styrofoam wreath form. The one I got (cheap cheap at Walmart) was green, so I wrapped it in wide white satin ribbon.  This is so that the form wouldn’t peek through in between the rosettes. I used hot glue to attach the ribbon to the form. Next, start adhering your rosettes, using a good sized blob of hot glue for each.  Put the glue on the bottom of a rose, pick a spot on the wreath and hold it in place for a few seconds.  Grab your next flower, glue it, then place it right next to the first one.  Continue this way, working your way around the wreath. Be sure to scatter the sheet music ones amidst the white ones. I made 6 white roses for every 4 music ones just as an FYI.

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And there you have it. A big, beautiful, gorgeous wreath that maybe cost $10. If anyone has a book loving friend who’s getting married, you could offer to make her a wedding bouquet out of book pages. Gorgeous, creative, incredibly inexpensive and she can keep it forever.  Or you can dye the coffee filters any color, or use colored paper even and make a pretty wreath for any occasion.  The possibilities are endless.

Best of luck with your own wreath!

DIY Wood Pallet Sign

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It’s our first Thanksgiving in North Carolina and we are so pleased to be expecting family in town from Massachusetts and Tennessee. I have have been in full-on preparation mode, including my attempts to make the house look more festive. Today, I made this sign to hang in our entryway.  We think it’ll give our guests some idea of what is expected of them during their stay 🙂

I had never done a sign like this before but was so happy with the completed project that I decided to blog a brief tutorial on it.

First thing, after you’ve decided on your wording, you need to design it and print it out on a computer, laptop tablet, etc.  I’m most comfortable with Excel, so that’s what I used, but whatever you choose, just be sure that it has a font (or two) that you like, and that you can print out really large letters.  Here is what mine looked like on my computer.

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Print it out and compare it to the wood that you’re planning to use. Adjust font size and reprint as necessary. Once you’ve got your final design in hand, cut out the words leaving 1/8″ blank paper around each word like so.

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Now you will flip each word over to the back of the paper and write all over the back of the words with a charcoal pencil. I used one that I got at Hobby Lobby in a package of 6 for $5.00. Here is what it looked like.

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As you can see, it’s a “soft” charcoal, which I recommend.  Here is what your paper should look like when you’re done writing on the back.

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Now, carefully lay out your words, right side up, on your board and once you have them all in place, tape them down at the edges to keep them from shifting around. I forgot to take a picture of this so hopefully, I’m clear.

Carefully, using a ball point pen, trace around each letter’s edge.  By doing this, you are transferring the loose charcoal from the back of your paper to the wood.  Sort of like an old fashioned carbon copy (so that’s what “cc” means).

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Once you’ve finished a word, you can carefully  untape it and remove it from your board. Look what you did!

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How cool is that?  Think of what you are capable of!  You can transfer your favorite team logo, silhouette, saying, image?  The possibilities are endless!

Once I was done transferring the whole saying, I painted the letters on with a paint pen.  I also got these at Hobby Lobby.  Mine came in a 2-pack and looks like this.

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It was too easy.  Much more so than using paint and a brush I think, especially since painting is not my strong suit in the Great Big World of Crafts.

I didn’t bother sealing my sign with polyurethane since it is strictly for indoor decorative use, but if I were planning on using it outside, I would’ve given it a couple of coats of clear varnish.

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Stay tuned for more projects using this method.  Good luck with your own, and Happy Thanksgiving to everyone!

DIY Minion Costume

20131001-090938.jpgSo this year, my 8 year old asked to be a Minion for Halloween. I was psyched! Not since he asked me to make him a Buzz Light Year costume have I been so happy with his choice. Trevor is famous for wanting the cheapest store-bought costume (Power Ranger, Spider-Man) breaking the heart of a woman who lives for making memorable Halloween costumes for her kids. That would be ME.

I putting out this tutorial early in the season so that anyone who want to make one for their little guy will have time to make it happen before the big day.

Here’s a list of things you will need to make the goggles and hat:
Two mason jar lids
A silver grommet
A grommet tool
Black nylon strap (long enough to wrap your child’s head twice)
A black buckle for the above strap
Two whiffle balls
A Dremmel
A glue gun and some glue sticks for it
Yellow fun foam (a sheet will do)
Yellow stocking hat
Black pipe cleaners

So I started by making the goggles. To do this, I started with two Mason jar lids, with the inner circles removed.

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The jars, with lids confiscated, will now make pretty vases for some cut flowers. I next popped a hole through the side of each lid, using my grommeting tool, which I will also need for the step after this.

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These don’t have to be perfect, just big enough to slip a small grommet through. So now, I grommeted the two rings together, using a silver grommet. The end result is two rings attached like so…

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Not the neatest job, but they are secured enough for my 8 year old. What more could I ask? They’re starting to look like goggles now, huh?
Ok, next step is to make a way to attach the straps. I did this with my trusty grommeting tool, but I could have used my Dremmel if it had occurred to me, and I’m sure the holes would’ve been prettier. Cut one slot, about an inch wide on each ring, directly opposite the grommet. It looks like I forgot to photograph the slots before I threaded the strap through them, but this is what they looked like after I strapped them up. I used a black nylon strap that I stole from my kid’s old backpack, but you can buy it by the yard at JoAnn’s.

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I also had a buckle from the same backpack strap, so I threaded the straps through that to make the goggles adjustable.

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Moving on to the Minion eyeballs. I went in search of 2 whiffle balls, the kind that are white with half the orb all “holey” and half of it plain. Ones like this…

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But alas, there were none to be had in late September at Walmart. If I wasn’t such an impatient gal, I would have gone online and ordered them through EBay. Which is what I recommend you do if you live in a cold weather climate that doesn’t stock whiffle balls year-round. Anyway, I went looking for anything similar at Walmart and found these orbs in the pool section, on clearance. I honestly am not sure what their original purpose was, but they were battery powered and glowed in my choice of red, green or blue.

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I started by popping out the battery compartment and light, so that I had a hollow globe. Then I took one of my goggle “lenses” and marked off how much of the orb I needed for my eyeballs.

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Then I fired up my handy Dremmel and cut it along the line. After cutting, I then sanded the cut edge a bit, to remove any jaggy edges.

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Holy crap. Who needs a manicure? I do! Check this out.

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Alrightie then. So I still haven’t glued in the balls yet (a little juvenile humor for ya there) but next step would be to get some irises for your balls (heh heh).

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Believe it or not, there’s a link for a multitude of irises. They print out, in pairs, on a sheet of paper, then all you need to do is pick the color you like, enlarge them to the appropriate size, and cut them out. The iris page is here. Creepy, huh? I also outlined the irises with a black Sharpie, which makes them look more realistic. And because I’m a freak for detail.

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Ok now, run and grab your yellow sheet of fun foam. Lay a straight edge along your eyeball where you want the eyelid to fall, then hot-glue that sucker down. Trim off the excess.

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I used a teeny bit of hot glue to adhere the irises. If you haven’t already, make sure your strap is connected to the goggle frames. Now you want to put your eyeballs into your goggles and hot glue them into place.

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I used a hefty amount of hot glue to cover any leftover jaggy edges on the eyeballs.

And there you have it, your Minion goggles. In case you were wondering, I made them to sit up on my son’s hat, not across his eyes because I didn’t want to impede his vision in any way. I will admit that I had to talk him into this, but compromised by allowing him to have his face painted yellow when he trick-or-treats.

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The hat was much easier. Just find a yellow stocking hat to fit your child’s head. Then take black pipe cleaners, cut them in half, and carefully poke them through the top of the hat.

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I then carefully turned the hat inside out and squeezed a big glob of hot glue on all of the pipe cleaner ends. This serves two purposes because it not only keeps the hairs in place, but it also protects your child’s head from the pointy end of the pipe cleaner.

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Once the hot glue is good and dry, flip the hat right side out. You may need to trim some or all of the pipe cleaners so go ahead and give that bad boy a haircut. And it’s done! Put the hat and the goggles together and you have a Minion costume.

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To complete the ensemble you need to gather up the following:
A yellow long sleeve shirt
A pair of overalls (I had the hardest time finding some to fit my kid, so mine are homemade, but store bought would be just fine)
Black shoes
Black gloves
Yellow face paint (optional)
Also, I recreated the “Gru Industries” logo in black vinyl and stuck it to the front of the overalls. Here’s what I based it off of…

20131001-205141.jpgSo here is my kid in his costume, but without the face paint. I didn’t make him up for the purposes of this dress rehearsal. Isn’t he the handsomest 8 year old you’ve ever seen?

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I promise to come back and add a picture of him that includes the face paint shortly after Halloween.

Now, to turn my 10 year old into a Tardis. Hmmm…

Good luck with your own Halloween costumes this month!

Hemming Jeans

Just a quick note to show a technique that I’ve never used before, but makes a huge difference when hemming jeans.

In the past, I’ve hemmed jeans in the usual, fold under then sew around the cuff method that I use with all the kids’ pants since forever.  With jeans, this left them without their signature cuff that give jeans their “look”. I couldn’t put a finger on why the kids’ hemmed jeans looked so extraordinarily dorky until I found this method that let’s you hem the jeans, but keep the cuff. It’s so simple that I had one of those “why didn’t I think of that” moments.

It’s a little hard for me to explain, so I’m hoping the photos help out.
imageWhat I did was I tucked a hem up and into the pant leg then brought the bottom fold down to just above the jeans’ original hem and accent stitching.  I then top stitched the hem in place, using matching (denim colored) thread, just above the fold. Yeah, like I said, hard to explain so look here and see what I’m talking about…
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See how the extra fabric (the stuff that makes the pants too long) makes a “cuff” on the inside of the pant leg then is tacked down at the bottom? If you’re a full grown person, you could then cut this extra fabric off, but I leave it so that I can re-lengthen the legs as needed.
imageSee the dark blue stitching just above the gold?  That’s mine.  I should also tell you that when I got to the side seams, I stopped sewing, skipped over them, and continued sewing on the other side of the seam.  I did this because I don’t have the right foot or needle to sew through all that denim.  Since the cuff lays flat and the opening faces the floor, it really isn’t noticeable unless you stick your finger into the opening like so…

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If you do have the right equipment for the task, by all means sew straight across that sucker.  Here is the completed job.  Or one of them anyway.  I went school shopping and got 8 pairs of jeans for my two boys and had to hem ALL of them.

imageThat’s it for now and Happy Hemming!

 

Hand Lettered Chalkboard

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Sometime around the beginning of this year, I bought a chalkboard for my kitchen wall. I had long admired the old fashioned look of hand lettering and wanted to incorporate it into my kitchen décor. While I know that chalkboard paint is all the rage right now, I wanted a less permanent solution, so I decided to buy one. I went to my favorite online “store”, EBay, to see if they had anything I liked and whoa!, did they ever.  They sell any and every size and shape of chalkboard you could ever conceive.  I limited my search to the stick-to-the-wall variety for a couple of reasons.  First, it’s going to be in a high traffic area and I was hoping to limit the accidental jostling or rubbing-up-against problem by having it be flush to the wall.  Secondly, it was going to be so much easier to find the right size and shape I wanted if I went with a stick-on variety in lieu of a standard hung-on-the-wall type of board.  And thirdly, price.  The kind I got was much less expensive to begin with and, since slate chalkboards tend to be pretty darn heavy, the difference in shipping price was pretty remarkable.  Anyhoo, I bought one that looks pretty much like this one…

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Mine has a permanent white line running around the border, but you get the idea. Incidentally, here’s a sampling of some of the shapes that can be purchased on EBay.  I typed “sticker chalkboard” into the search field.  Again, this is a very small percentage of the hundreds of shapes available, but it will give you an idea of the breadth of designs…

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Gotta love the zombie one.

My next step, after I received the thing and stuck it to my wall, was to look around online for some design samples.  Since it was late January at the time, I searched up “Valentines Chalkboard” and probably “Valentines Hand Lettering” and found this sweet one…

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I knew I wasn’t going to be able to pull off an exact duplicate of the design, but did manage to make a pretty respectable version thereof…

imageSo the original is much prettier than mine, but I thought it came out OK for a first try.  The next one that I did was for Easter, and also copied from a design I found on Pinterest.  Here is the one I found, (which is available for purchase in notecard form here ) followed by a picture of the one I made…

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imageIncidentally, I also found these other copycats on Pinterest  (see I’m not the only one!)

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I’ve become obsessive about researching designs on Pinterest for my little chalkboard to the point that my “Chalkboard Designs” just might be the largest of all of my boards.  You can see the whole thing here but here’s a sample of what I’m talking about

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I know – “YIKES!”.  But aren’t they all so preeeeeeety???  I want to copy each and every one of them.  🙂

If you’re thinking of giving chalkboard lettering a whirl, I highly recommend looking at the examples that I pinned, and then search “chalkboard designs” on Pinterest and find some of your own.  If you study them a bit, you’ll notice a few common design elements that will help you to get the look of old timey hand lettering.  Here is my extremely uneducated, but works-for-me, opinion.

  • Vary your fonts.  Use some printing, some script. Add serifs to some words.
  • Vary your word sizes.  Some of your words can be super big (for emphasis) while others can be teeny tiny.
  • Vary your letter sizes within the word.  Write words with progressively smaller (or larger) letters, all aligned at either the top or the bottom.
  • Make your words “move” by giving them a directional flow.  Make your words go uphill or downhill, or form an arc.  You can even write them on the vertical if possible.
  • Add a little easy calligraphy by thickening all of the lines made in a downward motion.  So If you were writing the letter “S” like in the word Spring above, you would thicken the part of the letter that you write in a downward motion – the middle part of the “S”.  The little curl at the top and the curl at the bottom are drawn on an upward swing, so they would stay relatively skinny.
  • Add “shadows”.  Using a different color, add an outline on one side of your letters as though the sun were shining from that direction.  It gives your letters dimension and makes them look more “artsy”.
  • A few Curly Qs and flourishes go a long way.  Add them to any empty spots left after you finish your lettering.
  • Copy, copy, copy.  I file this under “Fake it until you make it”.  Once you get handy with copying other designs, your own designs (or modified designs) will start to come.

A few other ideas that will help out from a more practical standpoint.

  • Sketch your idea out on paper before you start.
  • While you work, you will want to have a wet paper towel and some q-tips handy to act as “erasers”.
  • Start with a clean dry chalkboard.
  • Use only chalkboard chalk.  Pastels contain oil which will be near impossible to remove from your board.
  • Before writing any words, lightly draw lines for your words to sit on.  Use a ruler where you can or stand back and “eyeball” curves as you go.  When you’re done with this step, you will have a good outline of your completed project.
  • Lightly sketch your words onto your lines.  Make adjustments as needed.
  • Now comes the fun part.  Go back and fill in your final design.  Erase words, a few letters at a time, and replace them with your best work.  Don’t forget to also erase the lines that your words are standing on – unless you are leaving them as part of your design.
  • Notice how your chalk has some thinner and thicker edges and use what you need in the appropriate place.  I like to have a few different sticks of the same color going at once so that I can get the edge that I need.  If you find that you wish you could “sharpen” your chalk, find a blank spot on your chalkboard and scribble back and forth until you get the edge you are looking for.  Then use your wet paper towel to clean up your scribbles.
  • Expect to erase and redo letters, words or whole sections of your design.  A LOT.  Its the beauty of working with chalk – nothing is permanent, so its really easy to try, try again until it looks the way you want it to.
  • Once you’re done, photograph and share.  Then throw some orange traffic cones in front of it.  I’ve got lots of stories of people rubbing up against and smearing a design.  Once my husband was throwing a ball to the dog and clipped the board about an hour after I had finished it.  So traffic cones, a no-fly zone, death threats – whatever works for you would be supported 100% by me.

That’s all I can think of right now.  Next time I make a new design, I’ll photograph it every step of the way and add it here to better illustrate my tips.  Until then, here are some more designs that I made earlier this year.  The latest design that’s on display right now, is the back-to-school board that is pictured at the top of this post.

Made this when my niece came to stay with us for a few days

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This was for (shockingly), my boys’ first communion party

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And finally, for the end of the school year.  When Summer started and I was a full time mom once again, I just recycled this board by erasing the word “Summer” and replacing it with “Moxie” (before our trip to Moxie, Maine), then replacing that with “Winnipesaukee”, when we went to Lake Winnipesaukee later in the summer.

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The next board design will most likely be for Halloween, my hands down favorite of all holidays.  Cant wait!