Tuesday, December 14, 2010

My Cup of Tea: Christmas Ornament

Last year, my friends and I made ornaments for one another, and they all were so special and unique, and they carry so many memories for me.

As I was putting up my "pretty tree" in the entry a few weeks ago, I was hanging all of my precious ornaments.

I thought I'd be so much fun to keep up the tradition, so we made each other some more for this year's memories.

I saw this cute little tea cup at Ikea.  It's an expresso cup, really, but it's so small it's almost like a child's tea set in size.

I thought about how nice it is at times to have a cup of tea with my friends, and an idea for an ornament was born. 

I glued the cup and the saucer together with super glue.  Then I used white glue placed in a baggie with the corner snipped, and made designs of snowflakes and a first initail on the cup,  like you'd pipe on icing. Then I liberally sprinkled on glitter. The next step was the tea  bag.  I had to "scale down" a regular tea bag, because a regular sized one looked too big with  this tiny cup.  I just snipped it apart, and made it smaller, being sure to staple it back together the same way that it came apart. Then, dip the tea bag in mod podge, and set it near the cup to dry. I tied a ribbon around the handle to hang it from. I replaced the standard tea label with one of my own: " Merry Christmas 2010"! 

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

It's Holiday Time: Amidst All of the Family Time, It's Nice to have a Game up Your Sleeve

We gather as a family a lot during the time between Thanksgiving and New Year's.  It's usually lots of fun, and we spend most of the time eating, drinking and catching up.  But, it's nice to have a game to play...something to get the whole crowd involved. 

This year at Thanksgiving, we played Photo Scavenger Hunt!

Everyone can play!  Choose random things around your house, pick likely party activities (like someone drinking something in the kitchen), make a list, and choose a central person to report to (this is a great job for a Grandma who's not able to get around like she used to). 

Here's what was on our list:

- A Cat
- A Straw

-One of your team mates giving someone else a hug (shown)
-Someone's ear (other than your team mate's)
- A Sink
-A Trash Can
- A Tree

-A house (shown)
-A cupcake
-A magazine
-Someone's nose (other than your team mate's)
- A leaf

 -Your hand making a peace sign (shown)
- Someone in the kitchen
-A blade of grass
-A drink with ice cubes
- A paper airplane (shown)
- A pair of shoes
-You and your team mates making serious faces

- A turkey hand on a piece of paper (shown)
- The pen that you are crossing things off with
- A TV

- Someone drinking something in the kitchen (shown)
- Something yellow
- A lego ship built out of at least 10 lego bricks
- Your hand making a heart

Have everyone report to Grandma (or whoever is designated) and then the pictures can be reviewed and "qualified".  The winner gets a prize (a box of chocolates, a bottle of wine, base the item on your crowd).

Everyone has a camera at gatherings, and cell phones are great for taking photos too.  This is an easy and fun game to get the crowd energized, and ready to have fun!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Your Kids Will LOVE This Goo!

If you are looking for something gross to do with your kids as Halloween approaches, here's an idea! This goo is perfectly gross and very kid (and Mom) friendly.
Here's what you'll need:  mostly Borax and white glue.

Mix as per the directions. And you'll have a gooy playdough type substance that is more slippery and wet.  The great part is that it is washable!  Your kids will love it!

Solution A
1 cup water
1 cup white glue
7-10 drops of food coloring
Solution B
1 1/3 cup warm water
4tsp. borax laundry booster(you can find it at giant eagle)

1. Mix ingredients in solution A together in a medium bowl.
2. In a second medium bowl, mix the ingredients in solution B together until the borax is completely dissolved.
3. Slowly pour slution A into solution B(Do Not Mix!)
4. Roll solution A around in solution B 4-5 times.
5. Lift solution A out of solution B(i had excess liquid left in my bowl) and knead for 2-3 minutes.
6. Store Gunk in an airtight container or plastic zip bag.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Need Some Home Decorating Inspiration?

I know I have been busy getting re-acclimated to the school schedule, room Mom duties, volunteering, and catching up with people I haven't seen all summer.

I'm starting to look at my house in a new light now that it is empty of kid chaos for longer periods of time. I'm wondering how I can make some changes, big and small to make it look more "done", and less thrown together.

I found this site: www.houzz.com This website allows you to browse pictures of homes/rooms that have been submitted by architects and home designers. You can save your favorite ideas in your own "idea books".

I have literally spent hours looking for inspiration. Yes, I know, I could have spent those hours de-cluttering. But now I have a few "idea books" brewing, so that when the Mr. says "What are you trying to do here?", I can just show him the picture.

Monday, August 23, 2010

An Aha Moment with Ketchup

Yes, you heard me right.

We don't do the drive through very often, but my son had a friend in the car, and we were headed fishing.  It just was easier to pick up lunch on the way.  I enjoy ketchup with my fries, but I usually don't order it, for me or for the kids.  It's beacuse of those messy packets.  The ones where you tear the corner off, and then you have ketchup covered little triangles of aluminum and plastic.  Then you've got to squeeze the ketchup out...onto what?  A napkin?  It ooozes through.  The bag that the food came in?  Then you don't have a safe place to put the little messy bits of remaining ripped packets.  I had no idea how much all of this bothered me until the other day, and Chick Filet served these:

Hallelujah!  Pull the top back, and dip (or tear the top off and squeeze).  How simple is that? Thank you Heinz!

Speaking of ketchup, my brother in law made some awesome ketchup from scratch the other day.  He looked at the ingredients on the Heinz bottle and made his own. 

It is YUMMY!  Although somehow when you say ketchup, you are expecting Heinz, and when it doesn't taste like Heinz, you are disappointed, right?  So I think my brother in law's should be called something else.  Just to get around the expectations.  

And while I'm pondering about condiments, why are there 30 different kinds of mustards, and only one kind of ketchup? 

Monday, August 16, 2010

Behind the Scenes at The Zoo

We were able to tour the Zoo last week and got a bit of a "behind the scenes" experience.
I could stay in the aquarium all day.  There is something about all of those colorful, fish swimming that I can't get enough of.

I'm glad I have never had the "opportunity" to have met any of these guys in the wild. Their black eyes make them seem even more menacing.

The zookeeper told my kids that this cat, whose habitat is northern Russia, will be Extinct in the wild within their lifetimes.  She said there are only 35 of these leopards alive in the wild right now. They are hunted by the natives of that part of the world for their fur.

This giraffe was hand fed from the time it was a baby.  So, he was very friendly.  All I could think of was this big guy following his owner around like a puppy...all leggy and frisky, and 15 feet tall!

And, in case no one has ever warned you, giraffes are very slobbery, and they are usually drooling on you if you happen to be underneath them!

Thursday, August 5, 2010

If You Sell On Ebay, Here's A Reason Why You Need An iPhone

I've been in a MAJOR clean-out mode.  I'm feeling a little trapped by my possessions.  The keeping of them, the cleaning of them, the ordering of them, the remembering that I own them.  I'm finding that at least 60% of the things around the house go un-used. 

Maybe it's my fault for letting this go on for too long.  I've got baby toys in the basement, and my "baby" is 6.  Others are better at regular purging.  I aspire to be like them. 

My kids are all exctied to have a garage sale. I was thinking the quicker way to rid myself of all of this stuff would be a few car loads to Goodwill. But, the kids really want to be in charge of the "big sale".  I think it's about handling the money, and selling lemonade and cookies more than anything else.  We have agreed that EVERYTHING left over immediately gets chucked into the car bound for Goodwill. I could use some Garage Sale advice if you have any. I've never had one.

For the stuff that's maybe worth a little more, I'm giving Ebay another shot.  So the heirerarchy is: Ebay, Garage Sale, Goodwill. I resolved to charge enough for shipping, as I always seem to short myself, which is a constant irriation.

Here's what I wanted to show you:

There is an app for Ebay Selling!

Here's the first screen.  So easy!  Do you see that little bar code screen at the top?  Your phone can scan bar codes and automatically upload your item. Now, not every bar code scan works..but it's worth a shot, and it's fun.

And if the bar code doesn't work, you can take a picture of your item right then and there. Type in a quick description, and you are Selling!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Coming Across Some Inspiration

I had to go pick up my oldest from camp this past weekend, so we tied in a quick weekend trip to visit relatives.  We fit in an action-packed day full of non-stop activity.  Here are some things that we saw along the way.  Not, typical scenic shots, but some ideas about how to see things differently that I thought were intriguing. 

We went to a museum where they had a pretty extensive shell collection.  They basically hot glued these shells to fishing line, and back-lit them.  I think even without the backlight, it's a great idea!

We stopped at a cafe and had lunch.  Instead of standard curtains, they laid these fancy linens over the curtain rod.  They are all vintage table runners, and embroidered napkins. It looked perfect in this trendy lunch spot.

And how about this:  This floor mosaic was made by cutting stones in half, and then using the flat sides to create these fern-like leaves.  I'm not really sure how I'd replicate this one, unless someone I know owns a tile saw, and I'm pretty sure I may need to buy an extra diamond-tip blade, but it sure would be fun!

And speaking of inspiration, My Cement Birdbath made from Skunk Cabbage is featured this week at All Thingz Related! Look in the sidebar for me, but look eveywhere else for some other great ideas!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

The Kids Will Love These

There is something about things that aren't their "normal" size that totally fascinates kids, and maybe people in general, I'm thinking about all of those entries in the Guiness Book of World Records. 

We had pizza last night for dinner, but the kids and I put a new twist on it. 

We rolled out the pizza dough and cut it out with a large cirlce cookie cutter.

Then I let the kids put on their own toppings.  I found mini pepperonis, too.  The kids just loved it.


I sliced these little pizzas into bite sized wedges, and the kids were just so thrilled by it all.

I thought later that a giant cookie would have been the perfect thing for dessert!

Friday, July 16, 2010

Help! My Daughter Has Left For Camp!

My little girl has gone to camp.  I'm not really sure how all of this has come together.  I guess it was that her friends were going, and she really wanted to go, and she loved camp with a school group last spring, and she WANTED to go biking, hiking and camping.  (This is my girl that usually just wants to go to the library.)

So, she's off to camp.  There was such a flurry of activity in accumulating all of the things that she'll need, getting her packed (and re-packed) and checking (and double checking) that she had everything, that it feels like now that she's left, I have time to register the fact.

I've already sent her a sappy "I hope you are having the best time ever" letter.  I don't want to say what I really feel:  "I Miss You", in case that just makes her homesick and miserable. 

I hope for my sake that this isn't how all of the growing up and letting go with be, but I have a feeling that it will be.  A flurry of activity:  I can see us hurriedly shopping for sheets for college, and us running late to drive her there, and all in a whoosh, there is the drop off and the good byes, and then there is me sitting in the car wondering what happened. 

Any advice from anyone out there? 


Tuesday, July 13, 2010

My Dad's Book

My Dad's Book has been published!

Many of you know that my Dad died in late spring this year.  He wrote his own autobiography in January of this year.  I wanted to publish his words, about his life.  There were also some other notable writings that I have included in the book:  When my Dad was in hospice care, he was visited by a man who writes memoirs, there are several letters that are included; from friends and published letters about my Dad, eulogies, and poems. 

I addition, there many historic photographs that I've included as they relate to the stories that are being told, and others that I've included in a photo album style.  When my grandfather was young, he was a hobbyist photographer, and I owe all of these great historic photographs to him. 

Albert D. Croskey The Life and Times by Marjorie Recker | Make Your Own Book

I used Blurb to publish this book.  I have been very impressed with the quality of the photographs, the cover, in particular is just beautiful, and it feels nice, almost smooth and velvety.

It was easy to edit and there were many different page layouts that suited my purposes.

It's a great way to get yourself published!

Here's Something I'd Like to Try: Plastic Bottle Flowers

What an amazing twist on recycling!  These beautiful flowers are made from plastic bottles.  If you look closely, you can start to see the bottoms of all of the bottles stacked up.  Different sized bottles are used, and then cut into different petal designs. I imagine some heat is applied to get the petals to curl a bit.  The underside of the petals are painted in layers, so that the facing side is all glossy and stunning.

I looked around, and found  these beautiful flowers on Etsy:  They are made in the same way, only the plastic water bottles are left clear, and some swarovski crystal is added to the center of this broach.  They are just incredible.  You can find this and other amazing water bottle creations in Zebra 1684's shop.

Monday, July 12, 2010

A Lego Lover's Cake

My little guy(s) LOVE their Lego. I remember when I was growing up, my brothers would scratch through the big cardboard box of Lego pieces just as my boys do today.  My oldest son just found a Lego motor in the "big box" at my Moms, it uses 3 C-cell batteries, and turns a small gear, we estimated that it is 30 years old!  Does that make it Vintage Lego? 

We decided on a Lego theme for my recent 6 year old this year...mainly because all he wanted for his birthday was LEGO!

 So, a cake is born:  We used 2 sheet cakes, 9 X 12, and layered them, for the Lego brick.  Then, we used 6 cupcakes and turned them upside down for the Lego "buttons".  
We added a  real set of Lego people that lounged around the top of the cake.  My brother meticulously wrote "Lego" with icing on each of the "buttons" in the correct font. 
 My little guy just loved everything about it, including the fact that he got to keep the Lego guys from the cake.

Friday, July 9, 2010

The Perfect Gift for Kids of Most Ages

We have been away recently, and with the whirl of end of school, and spending some time away with family, this blog has taken a back seat.  I assure you that all of this travel has done nothing but inspire me.  My arsenal is full of ideas. 

Let's start with something that my kids (ages 6-11) had fun with the entire trip:  These Klutz facepaints. 

These paints are by far the nicest paints I have ever come across.  They glide on smoothly, they mix beautifully, and they are completely washable.  The boys enjoyed these as much as the girls.  They wanted rockets blasting up their arms, snakes slithering around their ankles. 

The girls loved the butterflies, and the "cats".  The book literally shows step by step how to create each of these designs. It's incredibly easy, and the results made the kids giggle with delight!   

The only thing I'd add to the set is a bit of glitter.  If you sprinkle it on while the paint is still wet, It would make the butterflies sparkle.

Monday, June 7, 2010

A Tree and A Story

My sweet and kind neighbors took up a donation for my Dad shortly after his death.  They gathered funds in order to give me money to plant a tree in his memory.

I immediately thought of a cherry tree, because as a boy, Dad told me that he planted a cherry tree in the orchard.  The picture here shows him picking cherries from his tree. I talked to my brother about it, and he seemed hesitant.  A cherry is a good idea, but they require some maintenance and usually the birds get the cherries, not us.  I asked if he had a suggestion.  Then he launched into a story about how he was on a job with Dad once and Dad just pulled the truck over to the side of the road and said: "Come on, I want to show you something" (in typical Dad fashion).  They lumbered out of the truck and across the road, and down a driveway to someone's back yard.  Dave said that he remembers a lady standing at her kitchen door throwing daggers from her eyes at these two strangers walking through her yard.  She eventually recognized Dad, who had done a digging job for her neighbor.  Dad wanted to show Dave the tree in her back yard.  It was a giant, tall and straight, and the most perfect tree my brother had ever seen.  Dad obviously thought a lot of it too.  The lady said it was a Redwood Tree.  Growing right here, in western Pa.

So, we sought a Redwood tree for Dad.  I didn't have any idea where to even buy something that I didn't even know grew in this area.  We went to a tree farm, very near where I live, and asked the very knowledgeable guy who works there.  He said: "Sure, that's a Dawn Redwood, take my golf cart and head over to section 16C, there are some in pots around 17D as well.  We zipped off in the cart looking for a Redwod. Here is the tree we found for Dad.

I did some research on this tree and apparently there are only 3 surviving species of Redwood, this is the smallest.  It will still grow to 200 feet, and may grow as much as 2 feet per year.  It will live a very long time.  People thought that this tree was extinct until 1941, when a stand of these trees was found on a remote hillside in China.  There is a nursery in North Carolina that specializes just in preserving this tree.   

The top photo shows my brother, Dave, and my 4 kids at the helm of my Dad's backhoe planting this glorious tree.  The tree was planted at the crest of the hill at the farm, and it shelters my Dad's favorite dog's grave.

I felt like so many things came together to make this the perfect tree for my Dad.  He must have helped us put all of these pieces together.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Wouldn't You Stop?

So if you were driving along and you happened across a dozen or so 10 foot tall wild boars made from cement, wouldn't you stop?  You know I would!  The owner had all sorts of interesting things made from cement.  Little garden ornaments, as well as religious stautues, stepping stones, planters and benches of all kinds. I was even more interested given my recent experience with my own cement sand casting.  (Don't get your heart set on these wild boars though, they are already SOLD, just sitting here, being "Aged" to get just the right patina for the owner.

This creative cement expert does a lot of custom work, which includes sinks, and countertops.  He makes planters to line city streets, and he makes them look bronze.  He is also an expert faux finisher.  Just look at this bench...it looks like petrified wood!

I was glad that the boars stopped me in my tracks!

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Could You Stop Over and Cut My Jeans?

You know you have a friend when the answer is yes, without any further questioning. 

I bought the above jeans at the Industrial Park (See link for full story).  They were long.  I knew all I'd have to do was cut them off at the bottom, and replicate the frayed look. 

So, my friend Juniper stopped over and I stood on a chair and she carefully cut the bottom of my jeans off, inch by half an inch until they were just right.  Just in case you are wondering, no guy will ever understand any of this.  (Why did you buy them if they were too long?, Those jeans have holes in them, you seriously bought those?, What are you doing?, Why do you need a friend?, Can't you just cut them off yourself? Why do you need my sander?)

After you've had your friend cut them just so, take some sandpaper and rough up the ragged seam so that it matches the rest of your jeans!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

What is it With Bread Ties?

I find these on my counter all of the time.  I can't seem to throw them away.  I'm really not sure why.  I think it's a distant childhood memory.  Something like this: "Don't throw that away, honey, we can ALWAYS use those."  I'm not sure what to use them for.  I have a junk drawer with far too many of them.

I have used them to tie plants to trellises.  That's the only thing I can think of.  Sometimes I think they'd be good to tie cords, like cell phone chargers, into bundles, but rubber bands work way better. 

Do you have the same problem?  What do you re-use the bread ties for?  Was this just my family that couldn't throw them away?