Kitchen Color!

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We have these grand plans of renovating the kitchen, building an addition to make it twice the size, and doing it all in Rachel Ray’s eggplant, orange, and lime green color combo (and by “we” I mean my wife).  Here’s Rachel Ray’s collection, if you can’t picture it:  http://www.rachaelraystore.com/Department/List/Bakeware/102-4294958180  I do kind of love the color combo.

That’s probably not going to happen any time soon (unless Rachel finds my blog and offers to pay for it all in a huge sponsorship/promotion extravaganza).  In the meantime, I’m trying to make things that help the wifey keep the tiny space we do have more organized and appealing for her to work in (thus motivating her to make more yummy stuff for me and the boy).

I picked up this little wooden Crayola crate at a thrift store in North Carolina when were on vacation last Spring and knew I wanted to save it for something perfect.  When she took an old spice rack off the wall (after realizing that the spices in there had likely been purchased when the first Clinton was in office) the spot it left was the perfect size for this box.

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I started off by putting a shelf it in from some old dresser drawer wood I cut down.  It’s just wood-glued in with two more pieces of wood as supports but feels pretty sturdy.  I painted the inside a vibrant purple, a little brighter than the purple from Rachel Ray’s collection, but it was similar to another accessory my wife made for the kitchen a week before (see below).  I  screwed in cup hooks before painting the outside because I didn’t have the right color paint for the outside yet and I was being impatient.  That was a silly thing to do, because then I ended up having to carefully paint and varnish around the hooks for every subsequent coat.

I only painted the top, bottom, and fronts with the green, because I really wanted to keep the sides with the Crayola logo on them visible.  It’s also a nice combo of her contemporary and my vintage aesthetics.  (Those sides are my favorite part.)

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It was still looking rather ordinary (as ordinary as a purple and lime green Crayola crate spice shelf can look), so I tore some pages from a second-hand Bacardi cookbook we picked up at a tag sale and decoupaged them in the backs of the shelves.  It’s kind of a nod to our honeymoon, which was in Puerto Rico and during which we toured the Bacardi factory.  I think they added the perfect touch.

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I also sanded the edges down a tiny little bit to distress it before slathering the whole thing with varnish (I won’t say it’s because my wife tends to be a little messy when she cooks so I wanted it to clean up easily because she took a wee bit of offense when I said that in my last kitchen post).  🙂

I’m also going to submit this to Make My Monday’s challenge this week:  Anything But a Card.   http://mimchallegeblog.blogspot.com/2013/08/midweek-motivation-anything-but-card.html  There are so many card and scrapbook challenges out there, it was nice to see this one deviate from that for this week.  (Don’t get me wrong- I LOVE me my card challenges!)

The other new addition to our slowly-becoming-colorful kitchen is a clothes pin recipe holder that the wife made at a super-fun workshop at my favorite local upcycle crafting haunt, Knack: (http://www.knack.org/).

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She and the boy worked on this one together.

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He helped us both paint (I was working on another one) and then he somehow found the most amazingly perfect glass fruit beads to decorate the clothespins.  A woman who had a huge bead collection was no longer able to use them because of arthritis, I think, and found it too hard to have them around the house so she donated them to Knack.  The collection was magnificent and this was such a great way to spread her love of beading far and wide, I think.

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These beads are so sweet- tiny little glass fruits- but my photos don’t do them justice.  Macey found the perfect glue to stick the glass to the wood (Amazing Goop) and so far the little suckers have held right on.  She also told me about this awesome web site, http://www.thistothat.com/, where you can select two different materials and it will tell you what glue to use.  It’s brilliant!!

I made one of these clothespin boards for my craft space, but I think I’ll save that post for another day.  School started today and the boy’s school this year starts a full hour earlier.  I was not happy waking up at 6am (and will probably not be happy doing it again tomorrow).

Heaven… I’m in Heaven

Mary, of Be Creative Mary fame, posted about this amazing place a couple weeks ago and I’ve been planning a trip every since:  http://becreativemary.wordpress.com/2013/08/14/day-226-goodwill-hunting-reusing-and-recyling/

The Resources for Rhode Island Educators, http://www.rrie.org/, is an amazing non-profit that takes materials from manufacturers to sell to the public for pennies a pound.  It can be anything from finished products (there were a lot of Martha Stewart Office things) to random do-dads used to make things.  For a $10 donation, we got a one day membership (a full year is $60, but it’s about 1 1/2 hours away so I’m not sure how often we’ll be going), and then most of the stuff they have is 40 cents a pound (some things are priced individually, but not much).  It was a veritable cornucopia of stuff for upcycling projects.

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There are some samples of things, here and there, that people have made, but there wasn’t much fancy about this place.  It just leaves everything up to your imagination.  The staff was nice and it’s amazing that so many business are willing to participate.  It was really stocked to the gills.

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So, for the unbelievable sum of $12.50 (plus the $10 I gave them for the try-out membership and a little extra I gave for a donation), here was my amazing haul:

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I don’t really have specific ideas for a lot of it, but here’s what I was initially thinking when I saw some of this.  The tiles and glass are sure to become some kind of mosaic.  I’m going to give a lot of the sticky notes to my boy’s teacher (they were on her classroom “wish-list”).  I’ve been wanting some of those tags for ages and there was a whole bin of Martha Stewart Office stuff- I wonder if her company donated them or if they came from a retailer who hadn’t been able to sell them.  I’m thinking of making something for a friend of mine who loves horses out of some of the ribbon- it was from a huge barrel that seemed to have come from a company that makes prize ribbons.  I got a ton, so I’m sure I’ll donate a lot of it to my favorite local upcycling store, Knack (http://www.knack.org/) (if you didn’t see my post about it, please check it out- it’s my absolute favorite place in the world: https://craftymadre.com/2013/07/19/knack-my-new-favorite-place/)  I’m also planning to donate the conical spools to Knack.  They have kids craft workshops every other weekend and I was thinking these would make a great Christmas tree project.  The random knick-knacks and bottle tops were mostly my boy’s idea.  He kept picking up things out of bins and saying “I could use that.”  (A boy after my own heart.)  I did pick out the gold bottle tops to make Christmas ornaments for family this year (based on a craft workshop at Knack that’s in the above post).  And the sheets of paper are absolutely awesome.  The silver is sticky on the back (if I’d realized it, I probably would have gotten more).  I’ll have wrapping paper for a year.

My boy had as much fun as me, finding random things and suggesting what he would do with them.  This is my favorite find of his, a piece of clear plexiglass with a blue rectangle across the middle, which I’m going to try to make into an outdoor gardening bench (he calls himself “Luigi-Sam” in this picture:

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There was so, so, so much more that I wanted and my amazing wife gave me $60 to spend.  But, I knew I’d have no where to put it when I got it home.  I’m sure that we’ll be back again soon, though.  The bonus- there’s a Dave and Buster’s nearby, so I can always promise my wife a trip there when we go (which is where we spent the rest of the afternoon as a final hurrah before the boy starts school).  I’m so glad I saw Mary’s post about this amazing place!

Vacation Bible Camp

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Wonder where I’ve been for the past week?  VBC!  It’s been a lot of fun but I’m SO GLAD IT’S OVER.  60 kids, 3 1/2 hours a day, and no air conditioning is really tiring.  Spending the rest of the day running around and trying to cram a summer’s worth of fun into 1 week with my own boy is EXHAUSTING!  For VBC, I led the Magnificent Missionaries, a group of 3 older kids (12 and 13 years old) who were responsible for presenting this year’s mission project.  This year, we chose the Society of St. Andrews, an amazing organization whose focus is on feeding people in the US who do not have enough food.  http://www.endhunger.org/  Part of what they do is glean potatoes and produce that would have otherwise been left to rot.  The farmers donate the left-over crops, volunteers glean, and they use donations to pay to ship the food to existing distribution centers (shelters, food kitchens and pantries, etc.).

We spent snack time with each age-group talking about the mission project; encouraging the kids to bring in money; and trying to keep them generally happy, healthy, and entertained.  My high-school assistant had actually gone on a mission trip to glean potatoes from a farm with SOSA 2 years ago and was able to share a lot about that experience.  I think it really motivated the kids to want to contribute.

One of my kids had a great lettering style and made posters with the “Hunger Facts” each day.  He did the “VBC” at the top of the post and here he is working on another poster:

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The grand total of what we raised was close to $250 (I didn’t count everything that came in tonight).  The curriculum provided by SOSA suggests trying to raise $60, so I think we did pretty darn well.  We learned that 6 cents will deliver 1 pound of gleaned potatoes to a hungry family.  $250 is a lot of potatoes!!

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There’s the “money-raised thermometer” that we colored in every day with, you guessed it, potato stamps.  The kids helped me make them in cute little hearts but then proceeded to use them to rub the paint around to form a solid fill.  I managed to sneak a pick from one of the littlest campers who didn’t quite get the “stamping in the lines” concept.

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I also resurrected my “treasure rocks” recipe and made 70 “rocks” with hidden coins to get our collection started on the first day.  Here’s my original post with the recipe:

https://craftymadre.com/2013/03/27/treasure-rocks-for-easter/

I was originally thinking I could call them “magic potatoes” but they turned out looking more like poop.  The kids had fun putting them in the vinegar and watching them fizz up, then reaching in and fishing around in the muck for the coins.  The littlest kids (a 3-4 year old group) really thought we were magicians (I hate to think how many of them might have gone home and tried to break open their own potatoes to find money).

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I ran out of time to do everything I wanted to do with them, so for the closing “family dinner”, I made little the table signs with some of the “Hunger Facts” we learned.  I used a potato stamp and some leaves I cut out from a left over index card I had painted with some greens, yellows, and crackle (practicing for another project I’ve been working on).

ImageAll-in-all, a good time was had by all.  My son’s favorite activity this year was “everything” (funny thing, that was his favorite thing last year, too).

Knack- My New Favorite Place!

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A pop-up store I went to last year has opened up permanently and I’m SO EXCITED.  The pop-up store was all arts and crafts made from upcycled materials.  I got a bunch of holiday gifts there last year.  The new space is like the pop-up store on steroids.  It was founded by two upcycle artists in the area who are so creative and talented that it makes me crazy!  Not only does it have great finished upcycled crafts to buy, but they have tons of upcycled materials to buy, as well.  And really cool, unique ones, at that.  The first time I went, I ended up with a bunch of clear VHS tape cases that I’m going to use to store supplies (6 for $1- who can beat that!?).  I also got some random metal objects that I want to experiment on with welding (I know, “experiment” and “welding” don’t sound like the safest combination- do not try that at home).

Here’s the link to their web site and they also have a Facebook page:

http://www.knack.org

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And the coolest part is that they have a crafting space and classes for kids every other weekend.  We’ve gone twice and had so much fun.  The first time, we decorated the handles of marshmallow sticks.  A local artist had donated the handles from a bunch of spatulas that he had only used the tops of for a piece (I’d love to see that). Amber used twisted wire to make a long skewer and then supplied home-made mod podge and tons of fabrics, yarn, paints, and stickers to decorate the handles.  Here’s mine (and the neat way she attached the wire to extend the handle):

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This is my wife’s.  I think hers is my favorite.  She put on letter stickers, painted over them, and pealed them off.

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And our boy with his:

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He won’t do crafts with me at home, but he’s loved doing these at Knack.  Maybe it’s because he’s a captive audience when we’re out.  Also, one of the women who owns the store has a couple boys about his age so I think she has his demographic in mind when selecting materials and projects.  (For this one, he found some camo fabric and who doesn’t like the prospect of making something that can be used to make s’mores?)

The next project we did was these simple but really cute bottle top hanging ornaments.  I think I know what our family craft for the holidays is going to be this year.  Try to guess whose is whose in the pictures below:

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Okay, so I gave it away with the collage of our boy working on his.  But, I think it’s funny that my wife and our boy have a really similar ascetic.  (Yes, hers is the Batman/Catwoman themed one.)

If you’re going to be in Western Massachusetts (US), I totally suggest you check this place out!  There are endless possibilities  for ideas, materials, and inspiration.  Next week’s craft: wine bottle cork boats.  Can’t Wait!!!

End of the school year!

20130623-105752.jpgI realized I wasn’t using my “with the boy” category too much. Don’t get me wrong- we do things together all the time. We just don’t MAKE a lot. He’s not a big “maker”. But when he is in the mood to make something, it’s always really interesting!

I brought a few random supplies to church last week for him to make end of the year thank you cards for his teachers. I just grabbed a handful of stuff out of his craft basket: pipe cleaners, stickers, markers, tape, wooden stars, and construction paper. He loves manipulating things with his hands, so he spent a lot of time making things out of the pipe cleaners. His other mom had the brilliant idea of making a sword, so they had a little sword fight during the sermon. I’m sure the people sitting in back of us appreciated that.

20130623-110028.jpgWhen I finally got him focused on the cards, he decided to tape some of his creations down, decorate a little, and call it a day. I got them both Starbucks gift cards (not very creative/original, but it was a last minute Hail Mary play). I also wrote them nice, personalized notes. When I was a teacher, the hand made cards and gifts were, hands down, the best. Gift cards were used and forgotten, but I actually have some of the things kids made and the school pictures they gave me from 10 years ago.

20130623-105858.jpgThey were really amazing with him this year. They helped him get the right accommodations and by the end of the year he was thriving! All “As” and “Bs”- and this from a kid who they were talking about holding back last year.

What do you do for teachers at the and of the year? Or, if you are a teacher, what have been some of your most memorable gifts?

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Painted Flower Pots

My son painted flower pots for his other mom for Valentine’s Day and then we used them to start plants for our garden. The top picture was one I sprayed with chalkboard paint (I love that stuff) and then he drew and wrote on it. Unfortunately, when I sprayed it with sealant (so the chalk didn’t smudge or run if it got wet) the wetness of the sealant destroyed most of the chalk design. (Whoops!)

The middle picture is of a couple he painted with a flower motif with foam brushes and acrylic paint. I love that, too. It’s cheap, easy clean-up, and it comes in a million colors. I sprayed them with glossy sealant and they turned out great!

We planted several herbs from seeds and have been trying to start new plants from scraps. We’ve been doing well with the green and yellow onion. We tried celery, which grew great in water but when we put it in dirt it withered and died. We’re trying some romaine “butts” now. In the water they’re growing like weeds. (Fingers crossed.) To start the seeds, we used Keurig coffee pods so they wouldn’t get lost in the big pot. I’ll let you know how they transplant!

20130328-002455.jpgUPDATE:  The Keurig pod seed starters did not work out.  😦  Apparently, there’s some kind of mesh, build-in filter that the roots got all tangled up in.  And, I think I used too much coffee grounds mixed in with my potting soil on a few of the plants.  Oh well.  I guess I’ll need to find something else to use these for.