Knife-block redo and barstool upcycle

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My wife suggested I paint our knife-block but I hesitated for a bit because it came with a expensive knife set from SharpenedKnife that my parents gave me. But you can’t win if you don’t play, right?  And she found this cool example and sent me the Pin, so I couldn’t resist.

http://www.johnnyinadress.com/2011/03/beautify-that-boring-knife-block.html?m=1

And the first picture is an awesome bar stool turned (literally) into wrapping paper storage. We got the idea from Pinterest (where else?) and then the wife happened across a somewhat broken stool at a huge tag sale to benefit a local animal shelter. I promised to make the stool into a wrapping paper caddy if she promised not to bring home another dog. Here’s the inspiration for the stool:
http://96195.com/pic-759.html

I tried out Crackle for the first time on both of these.  It was actually kind of a ruse for the wife’s benefit. She’s much more of a contemporary, bright color kind of person and I’m more of a shabby-chic kind of person. So, I started with the Rachel Ray green that she wants to do our kitchen in (along with her eggplant and orange). She loved it, but then I put the crackle and yellow over them both (to go with our current shabby-kitchen).
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The stool was a lot of fun to make. I used ribbon to replace a couple missing rungs with bottle caps instead of washers to hold it on. On the feet (now the tops) I decoupaged paper from an end-page from a used book from the same tag sale and wrapped some washi tape around it.  I used one of the thrift store table cloths I got for my parents’ 50th anniversary to make a few pockets to hold tape, bows, ribbon and such. It was my first time using the button holer (is that a word?) on my sewing machine and it was so cool. It says you can use it to sew on the buttons, too, but I didn’t quite trust it (or myself). I had a vision of a flying needles and broken buttons so I just sewed them by hand.ImageImage

For the knife-block I made a stencil out of cardstock to tie in with the boarder in the kitchen and varnished the heck out of it (she tends to make a bit of a mess when she’s cooking, so hopefully that will make for easier cleanup). I told her I could repaint it without the crackle if/when we redo the kitchen. I even think my parents would approve!

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“Easy-Peasy” Christmas cards inspired by Spike

I’ve been telling myself for months that I’m going to take a page from the awesome “Blog that Spike Built” and start making Christmas cards early this year.  http://spikescreativeside.wordpress.com/2013/08/02/easy-peasy-christmas-cards-63-many-merry-christmas/.  She is totally cool and a major inspiration- from her Drunken Stampers stuff to her Art Journal pages to this here “Easy-Peasy Christmas Card Pinterest Board” http://pinterest.com/spikescreative/easy-peasy-christmas-cards/.

And I finally did!!!  Here are my first 2:

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And they were totally “Easy Peasy”.  I made a Christmas tree stencil with a piece of heavy paper and then used a stamp I made out of an eraser with 4 circles.  I stamped a bunch of circles in different colors to fill in the template.  For red and green one, I used a Season’s Greetings rub-in and for the multi-colored one I used a “Joy” stamp with Tim Holtz Distress Ink.  The colors for the “Joy” one are actually from the Stampotique Designers Challenge this month: purple, orange, and yellow.  http://stampotiquedesignerschallenge.blogspot.com/2013/08/sdc111-color-challenge.html  I love the color combo!

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My favorite part is the “star” at the top of the tree, which I did with my boy’s borrowed pinky finger.  I used a Sharpie to put a little starburst in it.

I felt like I’m on a roll, so I made a few more today.  I’m actually not really thrilled with the first 2, but the last one totally floats my boat:

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I got my first Paper Pumpkin Kit from Stamping the Moon yesterday and it was like opening a treasure chest!  http://stampingthemoon.wordpress.com/2013/08/09/paper-pumpkin-limited-time-offer/  It came with a little stamp pad, an acrylic block (which I’ve wanted for forever), a bunch of charcoal gray cards and yellow-polkadotted papers that fit, envelopes, a sheet of flag and accent stickers, and 2 stamps.  There were instructions on how to make a sample card, but I hate following instructions so I pretty much did my own thing.  For the top one, I used a Stampsmith “H” stamp (which I love) with the new acrylic block and then stamped the rest of the letters to spell “Happy Holidays”.  I kind of blew it with the snowflake stamp using a bingo dauber.  Oh well, can’t win ’em all.  The Christmas tree one is the innards of the stencil I used in the first batch of cards.  I used another Bingo dauber to stamp around it.  Then I used a couple gift stamps, which I colored with my handy dandy Sharpies, a star stamp (that I made with an eraser), and a “Happy Holidays” stamp that came with the above-mentioned snowflake.  Like I said, those aren’t my favorite.  This one, however, is:

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I don’t know why I like this one so much, but I do.  I made the Gingerbread Man stamp with one of my boy’s old erasers.  It had a Buzz Lightyear sticker on it, so it was kind of shaped like a man, and I just carved this little guy.  Here’s my first test page with him:

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Then, I stamped the circles with the circle eraser stamp that I had used previously to fill in the Christmas tree.  I traced the little guy and drew swirls in the circles and then, just because, I stamped a similar swirl in the corner.  I wrote the little phrase on the card and Voila!

I’m going to submit the second batch, that one in particular, to the this month’s Stampotique Designers Challenge: Polka Dots.  http://stampotiquedesignerschallenge.blogspot.com/2013/08/sdc112-polka-dots.html

I originally made the first one for their color challenge but you can only submit one and I really like that one best.  “Run, run, as fast as you can.  You can’t catch me I’m the Gingerbread Man.”  🙂  Christmas, here I come!

Building a little garden and an upcycled planter

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We’re hosting the family reunion this year, so on Labor Day weekend about 25 people will all descend on my parents’ house.  My mom is getting a little worried, though, because they’d planned on having landscaping done this summer but it doesn’t seem like it’s going to be even started by then.  Don’t get me wrong.  My parents have a beautiful, big yard, but it’s just not everything my mom wishes it would be.  So, today I went over and helped brighten up a little corner of it, by the front of the house, as a little eye candy when people were coming in.

This little area off the driveway used to be a little flower bed but has long-since been filled with weeds, grass, and 3 black-eyed susans.  I, of course, forgot to take a “before”, but trust me when I say that it was not pretty.  We dug it up with the help of my handy-dandy Fiskars weeder and a little old fashioned elbow grease.  My mom and I went shopping at the local garden center (I love it there, especially when I’m not spending my own money) and picked up some mums to put in 3 pots my mom had (since they’ll be in full bloom right around the time of the reunion) and some pretty ornamental cabbage as accents.  Here is is before the mulch:ImageMy folks had the sandstone in the backyard and it made a perfect border. My mom’s going to see if there’s any more at the garden center to replace the random rocks we put along the driveway.  They were kind of an afterthought but made a nice addition.  Image

And these were the finishing touches:

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The petrified tree chunk was hidden behind a bunch of bushes in another garden bed.  It had originally come from a huge tree in our church lawn that was cut down a few years ago, much to may people in the congregation’s dismay.  And I discovered the little frog when I was putting the gardening tools away in the shed.  He was my grandma’s and fit in perfectly.  It’s almost like we had unknowingly saved a spot just for him.  Maybe she had some part in that, looking down on us.

And here’s my latest upcycled gardening planter, compliments of Heather at Whipperberry.  http://whipperberry.com/2013/07/hanging-succulent-garden.html#_a5y_p=767637Image

She used International Delights creamer containers, which I certainly have plenty of, but I wanted to go with something a little more natural looking (as natural as plastic can be) by not painting them.  So, I used a couple different sized Powerade bottles (my wife loves that stuff) because they’re clear.  (Little Rufus wanted in on the action.)

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I cut holes in them with my X-acto knife, making a little flap for the plant to rest on, and cut small triangles in the bottoms for drainage.  I filled the bottle about half full with a loose dirt mix and not-very-delicately shoved the roots into the hole.  I had picked up these little Hens and Chicks from my favorite farm stand a couple weeks ago just for this project.  To hang them, I used some LAN wire that I saved from taking apart a computer keyboard about a year ago.  It totally went with the upcycle theme and it was green.  What could be better?  I just tied it onto the ring left over from the top and hung them from our gazebo.

At the garden center today, I got this cute, tiny little succulent and I’m planning to put it in a third bottle (the smallest size).  Three is a very good number in feng shui, representing creativity, family, and self-expression.  You can also see the threes in the plot at my folks’.  I know that at least family will be in abundance in a couple weeks.  I’m looking forward to it!

My first commission!

Well… in all honesty, I was talking with a friend at work whose employee’s last day was coming up.  She said that she was going to get a special card and gift for her (she’d been with us for 4 years, which is a long time for our program).  So I said “I know!  I’ll make you a card.”  She didn’t really protest so I assumed she was good with it.  And here it is:

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Our coworker’s favorite color is orange and I asked my friend what she wanted me to write on the card.  She suggested “Shining stars never fade” on the outside and “Twinkle on” on the inside.  I love that!

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I already had the wooden star and I made the stamp out of an eraser (my new favorite hobby).  I’m doing it very low tech, with just an X-acto knife which I use to cut around whatever I want the design to be (after drawing it on with a trusty Sharpie).  Then, I cut the rest of the background out, slicing horizontally through the eraser about 1/8 of an inch down.  I do a couple practice stamps to see if there’s anything I want to change on the image and if there’s any of the background that’s not deep enough, and I’m good to go.  I’ve made about 5 of them so far. I also put a button on the front because when our coworker was pregnant a couple of years ago she didn’t find out the gender of her baby so we all called it “Button”.  And, I have to admit, she really is as cute as a button.

I also found a challenge using die-cuts on the Simon Says Stamps Monday Challenge blog:  http://www.simonsaysstampblog.com/mondaychallenge/challenge-make-the-cut/.  The Design Team’s samples are amazing- many of them are so intricate and the die-cuts really make them “pop” (literally).  I don’t actually have any die-cuts myself, but I made a banner for the text on the front of the card kind of looked like one.  One of the Design Team members for the challenge used cardboard in her die cutter and I loved the effect, so I tried to mimic it using my handy-dandy X-acto knife again and origami paper.  I also used a paper punch (which is the same principle as a die) to make the little swirls on the inside.

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I love the dimension from the button, star, and cardboard.  And gluing them on with silver glitter glue gave it a fun twinkle (which I kept going by using it as the tale of the shooting star, as well).  I used pastels in yellow and orange to color around the edge, having cut the orange background paper a little smaller than the card on purpose.  As a side note, the orange paper was a gift from another work friend.  She was cleaning out her childhood home and came across a whole box of this really beautiful, heavy, colored artists’ paper which she gave me.  I love it!

I used my Tim Holtz‘ Distress Ink pad for the text (with my stamp press) and stars but then had to go over the letters on front with a black Sharpie because they were a little too “distressed” to be able to read them clearly.  I have to get a plain black ink pad for things like this.  I sprayed the whole thing with  a high-gloss spray fixative to make it shiny and keep the pastels from smudging.  Also, the spray adhesive I used on the origami paper was still a little sticky around the edges so that helped cover the sticky up.

All in all, it was a lot of fun to make and my friend loved it.

Upcycled chair planter going away gift

A close friend of mine is moving away, from where I live in Massachusetts (where she’d been for the past few years for grad school) back to Mississippi (where she was from). I’ve already got all the travel web sites set to e-mail me when there is a good fare from here to there, but, in the meantime, I had to make something as a going away present. She rented a truck to drive everything down herself, so what better, then, than a new piece of furniture to throw on board.

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But, seriously, this was really fun to make and it’s not too big- just made out of a kid’s sized chair. I’d actually been eyeing the chair for a long time and had finally decided that my boy had officially grown out of it. I started off by drawing around the top of the pot I wanted to use and cutting a hole through the seat about 1/4″ in from the circle I’d drawn with my handy jigsaw. Of course, the boards in the center that I cut all the way through then got a little wobbly because they were only being held on by a staple. So, I used the scrap pieces from the hole I cut and some wood glue to shore them up.

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This was my second attempt ever at using crackle, and I went with Martha Stewart’s (mostly because that was the one that came in the biggest bottle at Michaels). I started off with a nice, soft green acrylic, then did the crackle, then went over it with a deep blue outdoor acrylic. I applied them all with sponge brushes and a thin bristled brush to get into the cracks. It actually worked really well and I only had to learn once not to try to touch up the top coat after it had started drying (because the crackle effect only works on the first coat over it). I also had to learn that when you use crackle when it’s humid in a room without air conditioning it takes a REALLY long time to dry.

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I used my new white Pitt pen to do some doodling on it and write the phrase “Keep out of the Weeds”. It was kind of a cross between “Keep off the grass” and being “in the weeds”- an expression she uses when she’s overwhelmed with work (which was pretty frequent during grad school).

I lacquered the heck out of it with both brush on and spray on polyurethane. I’m hoping it will stand up to the elements outside. Part of why I made this is because she’s moving from the apartment she’s been renting back to the home she owns, so she’ll have some more room for outdoor decor.

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I did a crackle finish on the pot I put in it, too. The sad flower in the photo is actually just a seed I started not too long ago. I didn’t give it to her with a plant in it (I figured that would add insult to injury in terms of her packing responsibilities).

The finishing touch was the bottlecaps I attached with little brad nails I had pulled out of the dresser drawer I made into a shelf. We might have spent one or two nights drinking Mike’s hard lemonade in the past few years. Just sayin’…

Anyway, I’m really happy with it but really sad about the occasion for the gift. I heard Mississippi has a great St. Patrick’s Day Parade.

Birthday Card Ministry

So… I’ve been loving making these cards.  I keep thinking I’m going to stockpile cards so I have a bunch to choose from whenever an occasion comes up, but as soon as I make one I want to give it to someone.  I just so happen to go to a church with a huge congregation and every month the “Carillon” (kind of like a newsletter) lists all the congregants’ birthdays for the month.  So I decided to start sending them to people in the church.  I can do them for other occasions, too, like weddings and funerals.  There will always be some occasion to make a card for.

Here are the ones I made today:

ImageI went with this theme specifically for the Drunken Stampers’ challenge this week: Beaches.  http://drunkenstampers.wordpress.com/2013/08/10/place-beach-drunken-stampers-challenge-136/  This “term” their themes are People, Places, and Things, so there are tons of possibilities.  I had so much fun with the 3 cards I made for their movie-themed last term.  I love the way these ladies think.

Anyway, the “Life’s a beach” is kind of a play on “Life’s a (some other word that begins with ‘b’ and ends with ‘ch’)”.  Unintentionally, but perfectly enough, I stamped the “e” upside-down on my first one.

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I used a couple stamps from a cheap set that I just got at a local discount store for the “Have a Great Day” and palm tree (with this challenge in mind).  It didn’t stamp very well (I guess I know why it was at the discount store) so I went over it a bit with my trusty Sharpies and also added a couple coconuts while I was at it.  I used my awesome stamp-press to put down the letters for “Life’s a Beach”.  I used Distress Ink for the black, hence the “distressed” look, and combinations of stamp-pads, magic markers, and Bingo daubers for the tree and sun.  The sun is one I made recently and am still pretty proud of it.  (Here’s my post about that, if you’re interested: https://craftymadre.com/2013/08/08/i-made-a-stamp/)

I’m also going to enter it into Our Creative Corner’s “Words, Words, Words” challenge: http://ourcreativecorner6.blogspot.co.uk/2013/08/words-words-words.html.  This will be my second entry for that challenge (they allow a max of 3) and my first entry also had a little mistake in it.  I hope they don’t think I mess up everything but if they do, that’s okay, too.

My next group of “nominations”- sharing the love

The next award *Wisher* nominated me for was the Versatile Blogger Award.  I actually found the web site where this seemed to originate and it’s a really cool blog that is kind of like a clearinghouse for all the Versatile Blogger Award winners.  Funnily enough, the blog is called “Versatile Blogger Award”.  There’s such a great variety of blogs reposted here, it’s fun to explore.  Here it is:

http://versatilebloggeraward.wordpress.com

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And here are the “rules” for the award:

“If you are nominated, you’ve been awarded the Versatile Blogger award.

  •  Thank the person who gave you this award. That’s common courtesy.
  •  Include a link to their blog. That’s also common courtesy — if you can figure out how to do it.
  •  Next, select 15 blogs/bloggers that you’ve recently discovered or follow regularly. ( I would add, pick blogs or bloggers that are excellent!)
  •  Nominate those 15 bloggers for the Versatile Blogger Award — you might include a link to this site.
  •  Finally, tell the person who nominated you 7 things about yourself.”

So… Thanks again, *Wisher*!!  Here’s the “nomination” post on her awesome blog, so you can check it out yourself:  http://prettylittlethingsinabox.wordpress.com/2013/08/09/award-time-part-3/

Here, then, are my nominations.  15 seems like a lot, but there are so many amazing blogs to choose from.  I’m going to split it up between blogs I discovered recently and those I follow regularly (in no particular order):

1) http://bluebirdslivinginthemeadow.wordpress.com/ – I recently discovered this one.  I love the photo collages she’s been making to illustrate her posts.  She has a nice combination of really organic looking paper crafts and nature photography.

2) http://joyfulploys.wordpress.com/ – This is one I follow regularly.  I love her art journals and it was fun to play along with her in the Index Card a Day Challenge.

3) http://ximenaxarau.wordpress.com – This is a new blog that I’m so glad I happened upon.  Ximena is an amazing artist and there’s a great variety to the work she’s posted so far.

4) http://cardcrazed.wordpress.com – Another one I recently discovered.  She makes really neat cards and has just ventured into the worlds of art journaling and mixed media.  A woman after my own heart (the expanding her horizons part).

5) http://girlunwinding.wordpress.com/ – Dawn is definitely a blogger I follow regularly.  She’s been so incredibly encouraging and inspirational, a lot of things I’ve tried recently have been the direct result of her (mandalas and making my own stamps, for example).

6) http://bitze.wordpress.com/ – Patty is another huge inspiration (and I think the way I found Dawn, above).  Her art journal pages are amazing and I love the stories about her adventures- crafting and otherwise.

7) http://createdbylisa.blogspot.com/ – A scrapbooker I recently discovered through the Sketch -n- Scrap Challenge page.  She’s really gotten me fired up on finally doing my wedding scrapbook (a year later).

8) http://shutupandcreatesomething.wordpress.com/ – She posts her art journaling and poetry.  She has a great, irreverent sense of humor (as her blog title suggests) and is also really talented.

9) http://tracywoodsford.blogspot.com/ – My last art journaler nominee, Tracy also makes some amazing spreads.  She has a nice combination of whimsy and beauty in her work.

10) http://spikescreativeside.wordpress.com/ – Spike is a card-maker that rocks my world.  She is hilarious and has inspired me to start working on my winter holiday cards this summer (so I don’t have to scramble to make them all in December).

11) http://pushingtherightbuttons.blogspot.co.uk/ – Jenny makes really neat cards with all kinds of cool materials (as suggested in the “buttons” part of her blog name).  I also love her moto: “A place where creativity banishes negativity.”  We could all use a reminder like that.

12) http://thesimpleupcycler.com/ – A new blog that has some great ideas for relatively simple upcycling and repurposing.

13) http://lorrinbaker.wordpress.com/ – Lorrin is my amazingly talented brother and I’m pretty sure he’s not going to pass this nomination on to anyone, but I can’t help but include him.  I actually joined WordPress years ago just so I could follow his photo blog, before I had any desire whatsoever to start my own blog.

14) http://sullimaybe.wordpress.com/ – Linda is a friend of mine (in real life) and kind of inspired me to get into blogging.  Her blog is so much fun- she posts about neat, random things that are “news to (her)” (and usually news to me).

15) http://oatmealmusing.blogspot.com/ – And, last but not least, another friend of mine from the “real world”.  Jane is an amazing poet and former English teacher (who’s probably not going to be happy that I started that previous sentence with “And”).

The last step of this award’s nomination process (which has been harder than I thought) is to tell the person who nominated me 7 things about myself.  So here they are, *Wisher* (and anyone else who has read this far):

1) I am independently licensed as a mental health counselor but I don’t do therapy.  I’m currently working with the human services company I work for on designing a centralized clinical intake and assessment team.

2) The hardest jobs I’ve had have all been as a teacher (1 1/2 years in elementary school and 2 years in middle school theater).  Summer vacations nowhere near make up for how hard (good) teachers work the rest of the year.

3) I think my boy is the funniest, cutest, most unique kid in the whole world (not that I’m biased).

4) I think my wife is the most supportive, beautiful, and loving woman in the world (again, despite any potential bias).  She’s an amazing cook who I keep encouraging to create her own blog to share her talents.

5) I was arrested for civil disobedience in college and spent a night in jail.

6) I’m a United Methodist, working hard with my church to help our congregation become “Reconciling” and fully include gays and lesbians in all aspects of church life.  Working on the denomination as a whole will be the next step.

7) I really think blogging has helped me keep my sanity when life gets a little too crazy, prod me toward the creativeness that I’ve always loved and valued in myself, and made me a better mom and wife in general.

So… that’s it.  Thanks again, *Wisher*, for the nomination.  I think I’m going to take a break from handing these out and get back to crafting for a while.  (But, I won’t give up on them… look forward to more nominations in the near future.)

And here’s a picture of a design I made in the sand on the beach, just for fun.

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(Sand art on a beach in Provincetown.)