A Foolish Inspiration; or a message/inspiration board

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So . . . this is WordPress?  I say that because I am pretty sure I last posted something in August.  Maybe.  Thank goodness I remembered my password.  To be honest, there hasn’t been a lot of time for creativity lately, which is probably why I have been so cranky.  Well that’s my excuse.  Clearly somewhere between August and November, I realized I had gift cards from my birthday nearly a year ago that I should probably use, one of which was for the fabric store.  I knew I should use the card for myself — normally at the fabric store I am buying fabric to make something for someone else.  So this was a real exercise in selfishness.  Me.  Me me me me all me.  I discarded several notions and came up with creating myself a message board, if nothing else to take up space on the blank wall above my sewing table, where I could pin lists, timelines,  scraps, ideas etc.  At first it was going to be just fabric on cork board, bam I’m done.  But it is never that simple.  I’m a complicated simpleton.

I wanted something usable, practical, and easy to hang.  Molly screws and drills intimidate me, and when I start a project I just want to get it done.  So I elected to use foam-backed poster board and hang it up with ribbon (which didn’t happen.  Not to give away the surprise ending or anything).

Now what to cover the poster board with?  What was my theme?  At first I was going to buy some of that beautiful brocade fabric I always drool over, but then I realized I do not want to be damaging this material poking holes in it with push pins.  So the French message board with padding and fabric and ribbon went out the window.  I considered other themes, such as a Turkish message board with crisp white linen, tassels and a jaunty fez, but I managed to be talked off the ledge on that one.  So I opted for rustic burlap.  Now here’s where I got stupid.  I could have just bought printed burlap and been done with it.  But I wanted to do something way more personalized (read: time-involved).  So I decided to paint my Crafting Fool on it instead.

With this idea in mind, I gathered my supplies:

  • Two 24 by 36 foam poster boards
  • 2 yards of burlap
  • hot glue gun
  • stapler
  • black glossy acrylic paint
  • fabric medium
  • decorative ribbon

I attached the two boards together on the short side by hot gluing a piece of sturdy cardboard where the two pieces met.  I attempted to iron the more obvious wrinkles out of the burlap, and then laid it down with the poster board on top and trimmed it with a good 2-3 inches clearance on all sides.  Starting from the middle and pulling the burlap as tight as possible,  I stapled the top and bottom center, and then the center of the sides, until all the edges were stapled.

 

I tested out the acrylic paint by itself and with the fabric medium on a scrap of burlap, and both seemed fine. I opted to go with the medium because I was afraid the paint alone would crack over time.  I traced the outline of a jester (a Fool, if you will) with a Sharpie, followed by a paint palette, scissors, and a sewing machine.

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These I filled in with black paint, and accented the palette and scissor handles with color.  I considered adding some color to the Fool, but I think I just like the silhouette.

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Now here is where I got a little Valerie Clark creative.  I took some very thin ribbon and hot glued it in a vine-like fashion away from the needle on the sewing machine as if the thread was unspooling from the machine.  Normally you would not want this to happen with your machine because it means either it is: 1) in desperate need of maintenance, 2) hopped up on meth in its downtime, 3) a Bizarro machine in which everything works backwards, or 4) in need of an exorcist because it is spewing thread.  However, I like to think that the wayward ribbon represents the flow of ideas that usually develop when one is being creative.   That last bit is why those who know my thoughts and writing best say I could go either way in the advertising world, depending on if I’m in a pessimistic or optimistic mood.  When you could describe your bathroom wall color as either chocolate pudding or dookie colored . . . well, we all have choices.

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Back to practicalities, the ribbon also took up some dead space as well as added some color.  In keeping with this idea of colorful dead space, I added some two inch wide ribbon to the opposite corner to either tuck larger pieces of fabric, or photographs, or whatever the hell else it is you would do, and because I had extra ribbon, I added some purely decorative red bows from the thin ribbon I used to represent thread.

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Since hot gluing the board to the wall is not an option (but an interesting one), I bought some old-fashioned antique-finish binder clips, and clipped them to the top of the board.  From there it was a simple question of marking with a pencil on the wall where I wanted to put the nails.  From there it was a not so simple question of getting the holes level without the use of a level, because who wants to walk down three flights of stairs to rummage in the cold garage for a level designed for exactly this purpose when you could hammer ten holes in the wall trying to get it straight?

In any case, I am now the proud owner and creator of a personalized Crafting Fool message board.  My next step is to make a companion, Frenched-up board for the opposite wall with white burlap and the two inch wide ribbon.  But for now, message board impossible is complete – cue the Lalo Schifrin Mission Impossible music.  Excuse me while I get my bongo drums.

 

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A Minimalist Harry Potter Birthday; or a fool’s Felix Felicis

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Dearest WordPress — so surprised that I even remember my password, it has been so long.  Almost 3 months.  Coincidentally, the length of time I have been living in this funky 1000 sq. foot apartment with 3 boys just waiting to get the hell out of here and live in a bigger place.  So on the eve of our move across town, it is the perfect time to post a blog and pretend like i don’t have to pack all this crap up again.  This should be called the Crafting Procrastinator, not the Crafting Fool.  Anyway, since we were in transition this summer, I called a temporary halt to all my normal birthday craftiness.  However, Big Bro wanted a Harry Potter birthday — I mean if you want a theme that stimulates the imagination, HP is it. As much as I wanted to go full blown, I knew I had to take it down a notch, so I distilled it to its minimalist essentials, goody bags for classmates and a cake for Big Bro for his family birthday party.

Hedwig Goody Bags/Paper bag craft

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The goody bags were a lot of fun, but in retrospect I might have rethought doing this for a class of 25.  I was up till two in the morning making them.  Anyway I used:

  1. white paper craft bag
  2. 16 1.5 inch white paper circles
  3. 2 1.5 inch black paper circles
  4. 2 2.5 inch orange paper circles

They are pretty simple to make.  I folded the top corners of the paper bag to make a triangle shape, and folded the point down to what I thought was a pleasing, owlish, if you will, level on the front of the paper bag to make the beak.  Starting from the bottom of the front of the bag, I glued four circles across the front of the bag to mimic feathers, and repeated this again with an overlapping layer of 4 circles until I reached what I thought was a good place to stop under the beak, which was four rows of feathers.  If you calculate this in terms of 16 feathers per goody bag and you made 25 of them . . . well I know 16 times 20 is 320, so this crazy lady punched out over 320 circles for these goody bags.  That is where I started to question my sanity and berate myself.  I might as well have gone out and hand plucked an owl for the individual feathers by that point.  After the feathers were completed, I glued the large orange circles under the beak, and then placed the black circles inside to make a suitably fierce owl scowl.  I know Hedwig has yellow eyes.  And now you know Melody had only orange paper handy.  So guess what?  Hedwig got orange eyes.  I folded the beak down for good and used a Sharpie to color in the triangle for the tip of her beak.  It would have been great if I had enough of those round double-sided velcro pieces to keep the beak down, but as it was I used some double sided tape instead.  Goody bag done.

Bertie Botts Every Flavor Beans

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  1. Sheet of address labels
  2. Confectioners-looking scrapbook paper cut into 2 inch strips.
  3. Snack size ziploc bags.
  4. 2-3 bags of jelly beans.

Super duper easy.  Using Word I printed “Bertie Botts Every Flavor Beans” on the address labels.  I cut the scrapbook paper in strips, and then measured the width of the snack bags to make a piece big enough to fold over the top of the ziploc bag.  I then divided up the jelly beans amongst the bags, selflessly sampling each color to ensure they deserved the Bertie Bott name, and then folded each scrapbook strip over the opening and stapled it.  Last touch was affixing the address labels to the scrapbook strip.  Every Flavor beans, done.

Pencil Wands

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Supplies:

  1. pencils
  2. brown and gold paint
  3. brown yarn
  4. hot glue

Ah, the pencil wand.  It developed out of knowing a wand needed to be included but not wanting a bunch of 7 year olds running around with pointy painted chopsticks inflicting damage on each other quicker than you can say “Stupefy!”  I thought a pencil might be economical and hey at least one end is cushioned with an eraser.  To mimic the wand handle, I wrapped the eraser end of the pencil with brown yarn about two inches up the pencil.  At the same time I had the glue gun warming and affixed the end of the yarn with a dab of glue.  That I managed to do this without burning myself is anyone’s guess — that’s usually how my adventures with a glue gun turn out.  I have no fingerprints left because of this.  On my off days I’m a cat burglar.  No trace. Anyways, after I affixed the end of the yarn, I rotated the wand (Pand?  Wencil? It was a weird hybrid at this point, neither wand nor pencil, and just looking for a place to belong.) while dribbling hot glue on it to make it look more like knotty wood, and less like a No. 2 Ticonderoga unsharpened.   I broke out the brown paint and started painting.  This was definitely a step where spray paint and a space to spray would have been great, but that was not going to happen.  After painting them brown, I took some gold metallic paint and applied some antique-y looking detail to the hot glue part.  Following the advice from a blog that now I can’t find (sorry blogger, not trying to steal your thunder), I poked holes in a drumstick box that we selflessly emptied of drumsticks (also part of the directions from that blog) to place the wands in while they dried.  Wands, done.

Scroll of Spells

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Supplies:

  1. Paper
  2. Tea
  3. Twine

Would that I were not a Muggle so I could conjure up parchment, or the Galleons to purchase said paper from Office Depot, or a Memory Charm so that I could forget how cheap I can be sometimes.  Anyway, I found a list of spells with a description of what they did from the world of Hogwarts, and printed this out on regular paper.  It looked so dull.  So I decided to try a little experiment.  I made a bowl of strong tea with three tea bags (I probably could have used more for a more intense color) and dipped a foam brush into the tea and swiped it over the list of spells to try to make the paper look a little more parchment-y.

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To speed the drying process, I turned on the oven to its lowest setting about 200, 250, got it warmed up, and then turned it off.  I placed the paper in there and this actually had the unintended benefit of kind of wrinkling up the paper so it looked a little aged and crinkly like parchment.

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I would have loved to distress the edges a little bit, but figured I was pushing my luck. I guess since I was using the oven I could have tried a controlled burn, but I think we all know that would not be the brightest idea.  Try to explain that to the hot firefighters.  I rolled up the list and tied it with twine.  Scroll of Spells, done.

Easiest, Felix Felicis, You-Decorate-It Harry Potter Cake

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Supplies:

  1. A store bought cake
  2. Pocky Sticks
  3. Groucho Marx glasses

It might be good to explain at this point, for those of you who may have forgotten, that Felix Felicis is also called Liquid Luck — one swig and you’ll have good luck.  Now I don’t know about all that, but I do know this part turned to pretty well given my last experience with decorating a store-bought cake with a Batman logo in crushed Oreos. Never again.  When I ordered this cake, I asked if they had a Harry Potter design, which they did not.   Plan B.  Here comes the easy part.  You’re gonna beat me up.  I asked them to decorate the cake in red and yellow for Gryffindor, and leave the bottom half of the cake blank for me to decorate.  I went to the party store and found a pair of 40 cent Groucho Marx glasses.  I removed the nose, eyebrows and ear pieces with scissors.  Next I went to the grocery store hoping they had Pocky sticks, which are kind of like a very thin long pretzel-type . . . thing covered in chocolate.  I placed the Pocky stick, which was now a wand, on the cake at an angle, and used some chocolate sprinkles to simulate magic and wonder sprouting from the heart of the Elder Wand.  On the other side, I placed the glasses.  Bam.  Harry Potter Cake — done, y’all.  Was that so hard to do, Safeway?  But then again, that would have denied me the right to uncomfortably but very necessarily crow about decorating a cake and having it turn to right.

I would love to do another Harry Potter party on a larger scale because I saw some fantastic creative ideas on Pinterest, so I guess I’ll have to depend on the boys to have that party, or maybe throw one for myself when I turn 50 — because the “F” in “fifty” means you can do whatever the f you want.  Even act like an f-ing fool.

Portable Rocket Ship Height Chart; or, when crafting calls the fool must answer.

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“Portable” might be stretching it, but when your choice is to take a board or take a wall with your childrens’ height on it, guess which one you can put in the back of a U-haul? We’re packing up our whole house, which is a perfect time to make a height chart, right?  We had been measuring the boys’ heights on the wall, and we wanted to transfer the record so we could take it with us. In fairness, I bought the supplies well before we decided to move, and just now decided to put on the finishing – oh let’s be honest – starting touches.  For the design I tried to think of . . . well, tall things.  Not trees, not giraffes, too cliche, something like reaching for the stars. . . . Rocket ship!  3, 2, 1 and we have crafting lift-off!

Supplies:

6 foot board (1×6 inches)

Acrylic Paint

  • blue for night sky
  • white for ship
  • red or orange for fins
  • gray for windows, bolts
  • yellow for accents

You could paint the background first, or paint the ship first.  I chose the former and as with all first decisions, wish I had done it the other way to save blue paint.  Anyway, I created a ship template on craft paper nearly the length of the board, traced the outline on the board and painted it white.   I then let the board season on the floor of our living room for approximately 2 months.  This was critical.  I have to say that because otherwise it means I procrastinated for no good reason and for two months four people who know my housekeeping style (step over a rubber band on the floor for weeks instead of just picking it up) and random guests who were too well mannered to comment passed by a blue board in the living room.

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Once the procrastinating seasoning was over, I picked today of all days to squeeze past all the crap in my garage to get the board, and cut out parallelograms on craft paper to trace the tail fins.  I know to Dave it looked like I just popped up from a post-Target nap and wandered in a silent trance like zombie to the garage to pull out a procrastinated board, but he knows me well enough to not even ask, shake his head and say “WTF?  Now?” to himself.  Hasn’t divorced me yet, folks!

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Anyway I traced the fins onto the ship and painted them red.  At some point in the process I was lured outside by the boys and finished the painting outside.  I felt like frickin’ Monet, the birds were chirping, the leaves whispered, and of course after the boys went back inside I heard what I tell myself was a squirrel making some menacing chittering noises, so I started to paint faster, images of a sitcom-like situation with the boys watching tv while over their shoulders through the sliding glass door you see me struggling wildly and silently with a aggressive squirrel, covered in paint and squirrel scratches.  Sometimes I think I watch too much TV.  I used a tin can to trace round windows/portholes, and painted them gray.  I am still toying with the idea of decoupaging the boys’ pictures in there, but we’ll see.

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I used a balding pencil (i.e. very little eraser left) to dip in black paint, deciding the gray might not show up too well, and stamp rivets up the middle of the ship.

I then free-handed a crescent moon that started out looking like a gravity-challenged banana in the corner.  In the past, when I painted stars I painted small asterisks and didn’t really like the effect.  The background looked a little plain though without stars, so this time I dipped the handle-end of my paint brush in yellow paint and dotted the background, clustering the stars more closely towards the top and spacing them out further down.  It’s ridiculous to be that pleased about what amounts to polka dots on a 6 foot board when I painted so many other larger things, but the effect was just right.

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I decided the nose of the ship needed some definition, so I Rudolphed it up with some red paint.  I then added in the heights of the boys and then measured them today.  Height chart done.

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I may go back and add in their names somehow as a part of the ship design, or add a name for the ship on the nose, or the aforementioned decoupaged pictures.  For now the height record is preserved — as a historian I know there’s no going back (“scrooch down like it’s October 2013, baby, so I can falsify your height progress”) to capture the moment, so I’m happy we can take this with us when we move.

(Easter) Bunny Money; or fooling my kids into thinking it’s as good as candy

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Hidee ho, there neighbors.  I sit here watching Rise of the Planet of the Apes, and naturally the next thing that comes to mind is Easter.  Doesn’t everybody combine apes and bunnies in their minds?  OK, maybe not.  However, Easter has been on my mind since Big Bro dug out the Bunny Money I made for him two Easters ago.

What is Bunny Money, you might ask?  It is many things:

  • It is the result of sitting too long at your desk trying to think of alternatives to candy to fill your Easter eggs.
  • It is a good alternative if you know your child will color eggs but not eat them and you want to limit the amount of egg salad you’ll be eating for the next week.
  • It is also a clever play in the term “funny money.”
  • It cannot be used in a majority of fine establishments.  Or Wal-Mart.
  • OK they’re coupons, like the coupons you made for your mom on Mother’s Day:  “Breakfast in bed” “Wash your car”.  But the kids don’t know it.  And besides, it’s the kind of currency they understand.

I started thinking of all the things Big Bro likes to do:  pancakes for dinner, one on one time with Mom or Dad (mostly Dad.  Mom is that lady that nags all the time), Disneyland . . . well that one wasn’t going to happen, but I came up with the following list of things I could live with:

  1. Play ball with Daddy
  2. Paint with Mommy
  3. Pancakes for Dinner
  4. Ice cream cone
  5. Stay Up Extra 30 minutes (Friday or Saturday)
  6. Build a Fort

I then scanned a dollar bill, front and back, and went to work with the clip art in Power Point, trying to find clip art to put in the corners that tied in with the treat on the bill.  I hope my scanning did this justice.  I would have scanned them separately but this scanner was trippin‘, y’all, and it’s 11:30 p.m.  One scan to rule them all seemed adequate.  Anyhoo I’m just prolonging this:

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On the flip side, I included the governing body issuing the currency (United Members of Team [Surname]), as well as Easter related clip art — bunnies, white lilies, Easter eggs, and somehow I managed to find a coin or seal with a bunny.  It’s amazing what random words you type into Google and what you get.

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I rolled them up and put them inside those hinged plastic eggs that somehow linger around the house underfoot for MONTHS.  Now I have to confess, if Geoffrey could have read better two years ago, they might have been a bigger hit.  Now that he is a little older and reading more, I may break them out again or maybe add other things like “movie night” or “go to playground” or “go to zoo” (to see the chimpanzees?  See I told you Planets of the Apes was tied to bunnies).  However, if you are looking for an alternative to candy, this might be your golden egg.

School Valentines Ideas; or, going against the herd like a dumdum

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Sometimes I’m an idiot who just can’t do the things other people do because it seems too easy to follow the herd.  In my over-complicated brain, if it’s easy and the herd is doing it, it must be wrong.  Usually about 11:43 p.m. when I am still working on my anti-herd “unique” project I realize, hmmm, maybe the herd is onto something.  Alas, Valentines was not one of those occasions.  It never is.

I was going to make Hershey’s kiss rings out of pipe-cleaners and kisses, but I saw someone had given those away at school a few days prior to Valentines.  My goodness, now the rings were herd tainted!  One other person had done them.  Nope, can’t have that.  I remembered I had a 5 lbs. bag of dumdums leftover from Halloween.  And a box of scrapbook paper.  No-cost Valentines?  Yeah baby!

I knew I wanted to glue something to the dumdum.  But what?  I was going to go with a butterfly, but for a 6 year old boy that seemed a little girly.  (Aw damn.  I could have done dragonflies.  Ah well next year).  After a lot of Googling, I came up with the Yoda-face Valentine.  I think I ultimately went with that because I could write on there “Yoda Best!”  or “Yoda One For Me!”  I traced a Yoda head silhouette on green paper 25 frickin’ times, cut out 25 frickin’ Yodas, drew on 25 sets of eyes, noses and mouths, and glued 25 Yoda faces to the dumdums.  I was kind of feeling dumdum myself by this point (“Could the herd be right?  Are store bought Valentines the answer to the overextended mother?  Yes, you dumdum ass!”).  I printed out tags with the aforementioned Yoda greetings, being unable to think up a suitably Yoda-hackneyed saying (“My Valentine, you will be.  You … will … beee.” Wait that’s a good one.  Dammit!).  Punched holes in the end of the tag and tied one on I mean tied it on with red ribbon to bring in the Valentines theme.  10:15 p.m., Yodas done.

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Now on to Lil Bro.  More dumdums.  More scrapbook paper.  I was sitting at my desk at work thinking about what I could do for him and getting a little punchy from the never-ending pile of stuff landing in my e-mail (having a My Cousin Vinny moment, truth be told: “Is there anymore s#!t we can pile on top of this?  Is it possible?”) and the thought of curling a paper dunce cap on the top of the dumdum seemed like a good idea with the tag “This Valentine is for you, dummy.”  Yeah, it was a bad day.  So I opted to use my handy dandy Flexo-lite hole puncher and emphasize the sucker portion of the dumdum and add “I’m a sucker for you” with a heart in the middle.  I only had blue striped scrapbook paper in large enough portions to make 27 Valentines, but I figured that was candy-themed and if I added a heart that would bring in Valentines.  Hole punch, draw heart in with a Sharpie, write “I’m a sucker for you” around the edge, and add Lil Bro’s name to the bottom.  Glue circles to dumdums.  11:15 p.m., suckers done.  Starting to feel like a sucker myself.

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Finally the teacher’s gift.  What to make the teacher, hmm.  Well, as previously mentioned in the gifts in a jar post . . . well I have a thing for gifts in a jar.  She is going to think I have a fixation with baby food or wonder who is eating it in our house.  I decided to make paper flowers similar to the ones I used for the baby shower and use a dumdum as the stamen, and fill a small jar with the flowers.  I bought a jar of baby food and saved the food part to add to muffin batter.  Waste not want not.  Once I washed it and used steel wool to scrape off the last of the label and glue, I filled the jar with Valentines M&Ms.  The paper flowers are made like a snowflake — a square of paper is folded in fourths and then a triangle, then rounded at the end.  Cut a small slit in the center for the stamen and boom — flower.  I added the flowers to the jar, and then tied on a tag with Valentines greetings on it.  Logistics raised its ugly head — how would she carry this home without spilling all the M&Ms?  I didn’t want to, but I taped the baby food cap to the back of the jar.  What it lacks in presentation it makes up for it in practicality.  I never really figured out how to transport it as a bouquet.  I had to deconstruct it and reconstruct it at school because the flowers kept falling out.  Looks pretty, but totally unstable, kind of like the villainess in a James Bond movie.

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I added the remaining M&Ms to empty plastic baby food containers and glued two paper flowers I ended up not using to the tops to make small gifts for my boys for Valentines Day.  By this point it was 12:15 and I had to go to work the next day.  Yeah, time to stop.

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So there is Valentines Day, going against the herd.  Trying to be unique and crafty takes time, people.  Who are we kidding — you don’t have to tell me, I know I’m a fool.

Gifts in a jar revisited; or, a fool returns to the same well twice

 

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Well hello, blog.  Between the holidays, a birthday and life in general, I am surprised I remember my username and password.  Yet here I am, with an after the fact post about ornaments.  Keep in mind, this idea could be used as a more snow-globey concept, using different decorative elements in the jar based on the occasion or the season (Sand and shells in summer time.  Grass and flowers in spring.  Etc.)

When we last left, I was in the throes of the holidays, searching for a modest teacher’s gift kind of at the last minute.  My last post was gifts in a jar, and all that writing and thinking about gifts in a jar evidently made it impossible to do anything else for teachers’ gifts this year.  The final product, an ornament made out of a baby food jar, was a hybrid of photos in a jar, snow globe in a jar, and ornament in a jar.  It was a photo ornament in a jar.  I gathered:

  • baby food jars
  • picture of the boys
  • cotton balls
  • small presents or holly berries (not the actress)
  • glue
  • tweezers

First I bought baby food in jars.  I was hoping for carrots or sweet potatoes, which I could later use in a muffin batter and not feel wasteful, but all they had was Chicken and Noodle dinner.  Imagine how appetizing that looks pureed.  Oh yes, it looks like vomit.  I washed them, peeled off the label and used steel wool for any leftover residue.  I spray painted the caps red, then realized I should have punched holes first in the cap, then painted it.  So I had to be very careful not to inadvertently somehow crack the paint, and used the hammer and nail like i was one of Santa’s elves.  Once they were dry I looped some twine throughout the top and knotted it inside the cap.

I had a photo of the brothers in a 1990’s Kid n’ Play pose, back to back with their arms crossed.  “Oh la oh la a-a-a . . . rollin rollin rollin with Kid N’ Play now”  That’s all I remember from Kid N’ Play.  Anyway, I cut out a photo of each monster angel child separately.  I eyeballed from the outside if I need to cut them off at the knees so to speak to get the proportions right and get them to fit in the jar.  Once that was done I set the pictures aside.

I dribbled some glue in the bottom of the jar and gently pulled apart a cotton ball to increase its diameter so it looked more like a nest or snow drift than a cotton ball plopped in the bottom of a jar.  I then dribbled more glue and using the tweezers placed the picture in the “snow” and glue, making sure there was enough cotton piled up behind the picture to give it something to rest on.  I dribbled more glue in the jar where I wanted to stack the presents (little Christmas decorations found at Michaels) behind the picture to 1) cover up the back of the picture; and 2) hopefully make the ornament pleasing from another angle.  Fortunately the gifts were very light so they stacked well and at precarious angles that something heavier couldn’t have achieved.  I screwed on the top, and once dry, I used a Sharpie to write on the bottom “To: Ms. Teacher — Please Tell School District to Abandon Common Core Curriculum Because a First Grader Shouldn’t Be Doing Word Problems And Algebra.”   Oops, did I just write that?  Freudian slip. No,it really all fit on the bottom of the jar.  Really.

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The only thing I didn’t count on was the weight of the ornament.  It was heavy, bordering on too heavy for the tree.  It would have to be on a substantial branch or be a truly decorative ornament that sits on a shelf or mantel or desk.  They turned out really cute, however, but in retrospect making all 4 first and then testing them for weight was . . . foolhardy.

Hopefully I will get back on schedule and post my height chart soon.  All I have to do is make it.  You know, the essentials.  Also, I have a bunch of friends turning 40 this year, and we can’t let that go without a little sumpin’ sumpin’, and the ideas are a churnin’.  Well right now there is a 3.5 year old trying to rub my feet in an attempt to get out of time out, so maybe I can work this into a foot massage.  Ta ta!

Gifts in a Jar; or (almost) fool-proof quick gift ideas.

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‘Tis that time of year when a wife, mother, worker bee, Santa, and blogger has to choose at least one hat to sit on the shelf, and that hat is the blogging hat.  I have some projects in the wings which will be posted all in good time (like, when I finish them and have a chance to wrote about them, but for the moment I harken back to Christmases of yore when I gave the kid’s teachers gifts in a jar. Ah yes, ye old gift in a jar.  I don’t know what fascinates me about this concept, but it’s just so clever.

S’mores in a Jar:

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Yes, that’s Mary Poppins in the background

 

Last year I searched and searched, and found a recipe for S’mores in a Jar.   It is basically teddy grahams, brown sugar, chocolate chips and mini marshmallows layered in a jar and later mixed with melted butter and baked in a pan.  I made a nice label to cover up the glue and paper I was unable to scrape off.

I willfully ignored the part about the size of the jar required, only to find I did not have a jar big enough to make a full pan of s’mores, so I made these ridiculous instructions to fill muffin tins (about 2 or 3) with the mixture.  In retrospect, maybe a different gift in a jar would have worked out better, especially since I didn’t get to test the recipe.  Neither of my kids were flunked out that year so I guess they went down ok.  However, I did have about 4 teachers to make gifts for and I was a little pressed for time so  . . .

Other quick gift ideas:

Relaxation in a Tin

I realized I forgot a teacher, and so I whipped up a gift in a tin, which was some Bigelow tea bags, some biscotti, and a scented candle, and of course some fancy ribbon.  I whipped it up so fast I did not take a picture.   I also made some foot scrub from sugar, olive oil, and lavender essential oil, and created a laminated label for the jar with my printer, paper, and some clear contact paper.  I also spray painted the lid of the jar — “pickle relish” and “foot scrub” do not read well together. This was truly a gift in a pinch.

Pasta Dinner on Me

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For out neighbors, I had some across some baskets at Michaels that were 50% off.  I bought a jar of pasta sauce, a box of pasta, and included some of the biscotti tied with twine.  If I was sure if they drank wine I would have included a bottle of wine.  I packed this all in the basket and added a card saying dinner on us as a way of thanking them for all the dinners they provided us when my husband was sick and in the hospital.  They are such great neighbors.  I meant to include our recipe for Pasta Bake, which is a deconstructed lasagna in a casserole dish:

  • layer of cooked pasta (any kind — rotini, penne, farfalle)
  • layer of ricotta or cottage cheese
  • sprinkle of mozzarella or monterey jack
  • layer of meat sauce (we use ground turkey in vodka sauce)
  • a little more cheese on top
  • bake in the oven at about 375 till heated through and cheese is melted.

Bam — dinner to feed the masses or enough to freeze for later.

I of course forgot to do this but this is what the instructions would have looked like:

pasta bake recipe

So these are just a few different ideas I used last year for those gifts for the people you appreciate in life but never get a chance to say thanks for all you do for my kids, or for the helping hand you gave us this past year.  You’re a fool if you go with the old fruitcake stand-by.

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