holiday · home decor

Snowballs!

Snowballs!Snowballs!I love Christmas – especially when it comes to crafting. My holiday board is bursting with projects I want to do. The inspiration for my Snowballs was one of the first projects I pinned when I joined Pinterest over a year ago. Sadly when I actually clicked on it, I discovered it was just an image so I had to do some improvising.

One thing I want to mention..er.. gloat about is that every single thing I used for this project I had in my craft room. It was the best feeling! A year ago I would have had to make fiftyeleven trips to Michaels. I feel like a pro!

Anyway, I bought the foam balls from the Dollar stores about a year ago…Snowballs!

I used a black sharpie to dot the eyes…DSC00732

Added a cheery smile…Snowballs!

Used a little dab of kids acryllic paint in orange for a carrot nose.Snowballs!

Added some red paint for frosty red cheeks. It took me a while to perfect this. I used my thumb and a wet paper towel and a dry paint brush. Dab your thumb in the paint, blot it a few times on the wet paper towel and then tap tap tap on your snow ball like so. I also used a dry paint brush to sort of smudge it around a bit.Snowballs!

repeat repeat repeatSnowballs!

I used some old hemp yarn for the bows and attached with a glue gun. I glued the ribbon to the foam and then tied it in a bow. It was pretty annoying/tricky to do. Unfortunately, my Cali girl roots peeked out and I like totally forgot to take a picture of this step. oops 😦

Once the snowballs dried, I tossed them into a vase! and by “tossed” I  mean obsessively spent several minutes arranging them so they all faced the right way 🙂Snowballs!

 

gift · holiday

Sweet Valentines Day Soap

IMG_2125 2DIY heart soapsIMG_2125 2 Edited

I wanted to make something special for my family and a few special friends to celebrate Valentines day. I saw lots of projects for felt hearts and heart soaps on Pinterest and I thought between the two, this seemed to fit my skill level.

So, before you read my post I should tell you that on my first try I did burn myself – badly and set a small fire. I will say that thanks to that fire, I learned that not only did my husband decide that the best place for the one fire extinguisher we own was in the basement, but that he actually moved it from that place and didn’t remember where it was. However, I didn’t even know we HAD a fire extinguisher. So, yay for important lessons learned during small fires!

I read several blogs with instructions on how to make soap. This is the way that worked best for me – excluding the fire and burns.

Sweet Valentine's Day SoapI used:
glycerin soap (clear and opaque)
soap dye or food coloring
Pot
glass measuring cup
non stick pan or silicone pan
heart shaped cookie cutter
rubbing alcohol (poured into a spray bottle)

Several blogs that I read suggest food dye. I tend to steer clear of food dye because I’ve had some bad skin discoloration experiences using food dye in sugar scrub recipes.

I wanted soaps in a several colors so I bought tiny cake pans. However, if you are going for just one color or larger quantities of soap just use a bigger pan.

Martha Stewarts blog said the best way to determine how much glycerin you will need is to fill the non-stick pan with water to the level/width you want your soap to be. Then pour that water into a measuring cup. This is the amount of liquid glycerin you need. I used 1 1/4 cup to fill my tiny pans.

I created a double boiler to melt my glycerin by filling a pan about 1/2 full of water and then placing a measuring cup inside. I turned the water on low and then waited approximately 3 days, 6 hours for it to get hot.

Sweet Valentine's Day Soap

While I waited for the double boiler to heat, I started cutting the glycerin into chunks about 1/8 inch thick and 1/4 wide – Later I used a cheese grater to shave it into smaller pieces that melted faster (my knuckles are still healing).

Sweet Valentine's Day Soap

I can not began to tell you how horribly boring waiting for glycerin to melt is. I was determined to complete this process right, so I started out with the burner on super low. Nothing. Happened. Slowly, I increased the heat little by little until it bubbled over and burned me. Shortly thereafter it started a fire. I also noticed that it created a weird white froth that didn’t dissolve as the soap dried. Based on these findings, I never ever turned the burner up again while making soap. I also learned that it’s important to keep stirring your glycerin. It speeds up the melting process and it prevents a irritating skin layer from building up.

Once the glycerin is melted QUICKLY pour it into your pan. It begins to harden almost the second you take if off the stove. Here’s where you use the rubbing alcohol. A few quick sprays while dissolve bubbles that form on the top.

Sweet Valentine's Day Soap

Once your soap has hardened, use your heart shaped cookie cutter to cut out your heart shaped soaps!

Sweet Valentine's Day Soap

I also used some silicone heart shaped ice cube trays I’d gotten from Ikea for $.99. To be honest, I thought the silicone trays were easier, but I needed thinner hearts for the next step of my project (stay tuned).

Sweet Valentine's Day Soap

I cut the scraps up and threw them back into my double boiler. Then I just added more soap and dye until I got the desired amount and color for my next batch.

Sweet Valentine's Day Soap

This project was the least complicated in theory – well, aside from the fire obviously. But, it made the biggest mess. Nothing that I used seemed to really get the glycerin residue off the pots and sink. Tupperware that was in the dishwasher during the same cycle as the stuff I used to make the soap ended up with a soap residue that I couldn’t get clean and eventually had to throw away. But, I can’t help but smile when I see my little bag of heart shaped soaps. I hope the recipients enjoy them.

Soap Hearts

card · gift · holiday

Holiday Thank You Cards

IMG_1504IMG_1502I decided to send out handmade thank you cards for the gifts that we received this year. I am still new to paper crafts so I wanted to try something that would be pretty but not so challenging that they wouldn’t be received until sometime this spring.

What I used:IMG_1430 Edited
Martha Stewart Craft Punch – Arctic Snowflake
Martha Stewart Craft Punch – Alphabet
3.5in x 4.8in White Cards
Card Stock Colors: Navajo, Patina, Turquoise Mist, Avalanche, Ocean Breeze
Mod Podge

Tools:
Paint Brush
Scissors
Exacto Knife
Friskars Super Cut Paper Trimmer

Paper Trimmer:
The first step is to determine the size for the border. To determine the border, measure the width and height of your card. I went with .5 inch IMG_1485 Editedborder. The cards I used are 3.5in x 4.8in so the card stock should be cut to 2.5in x 3.8in. Using the Paper Trimmer, cut the card stock to the dimensions you picked.

When I originally bought the supplies I asked the Michaels associate what would be the best cutting tool to use. She suggested the exacto knife. I specifically asked her about the cutting board because they were on sale but she said that I wouldn’t need it for this project. I wasted two sheets of card stock and way too much time cutting crazy crooked not so exacto lines before I went back to Michael’s and bought the paper trimmer. I just wish I’d started the project when the sale was still going. GRRRR! But hey, you might be someone who can use the exacto knife and make straight lines with no problem. I cut all of my card stock in the three colors first because I wanted to mix the different color snowflakes between cards.

Craft Punch:
Use the Martha Stwewart Craft Punch to cut out the snowflakes. Remember this is the card stock you will be gluing to the thank you cards IMG_1444 Editedso be creative with your punching. Also be careful that you don’t punch too close to the previous punch or to the edges of the card stock.

I recommend that you punch all of your card stock before you start the next step. This serves two purposes. When I planned out these cards in my head I didn’t plan to glue the snowflakes back onto the cards. If you like the way the cards look as is, then go with it, but you also have the option to glue the snowflakes back onto the cards. I mixed the colors of the snowflakes on a few of the cards. I was really surprised by how great they looked. I almost decided to save these for christmas cards for next year. But I convinced myself that by next year my card making skills will be so advanced that they will almost be 3D holograms.

Mod Podge:
Use the paint brush and Mod Podge to glue the card stock to the card. This can be tricky because the card has snowflakes cut out of it. I found that applying the Mod Podge directly to the card, not the card stock got the best results. I also find it helps if you use a paint brush with a tiny pointy edge to dap glue into the tiny edges to get a firm fit.

Next, Glue the snowflakes down. In this case, I applied the mod podge directly to the snowflakes and then once I applied the snowflakes to the card I wiped the excess mod podge away.

In my opinion Mod Podge dries cleaner then a glue stick or elmers glue will and you can wipe the excess away without it leaving a sticky residue or any weird splotches on the card.

Fill in the Blank:IMG_1490
Make sure you write something personal inside. Nothing is lamer then a handmade card with nothing but “Love, Your Name” inside. : )

 

gift · holiday · mason

Frosted, The Mason Jar Snowman

IMG_1334 Edited-2IMG_1378IMG_1336 Edited-2I got the idea for the mason jar snowmen while I was working on my holiday gifts. I needed a jar for the sugar cubes I made for friends and family for Christmas. I love gifts that can be practical and beautiful. I’ve become a big fan of upcycling and I’d been wanting to experiment with frosted spray paint. I had 5 mason jars that I’d gotten from Tokyo Joe’s restaurant that I thought would be perfect. I love how the white sugar cubes add to the “snow” effect and it’s a gift that can be reused for decoration or refilled with something next year during the holidays. (I hope)


What I used:
Mason Jar w/lid
Black spray paintIMG_1258
Frost spray paint
Clear sealant spray paint
Super glue (I recommend the kind with a brush)
Orange Felt
Ribbon (I recommend wire edge)
Paint (white, black) and any colors you want to paint your scarf if you choose this option

Tools:
Scissors
Glue Gun (optional)
Paint Brush
Masking Tape

I put my snowman together in the below order because it helps me keep my face centered. I like crafting and being creative but I’m not the most artistic or good at tiny details, so “dressing” the jar in a scarf and ear muffs reduced my error rate. You do not have to do it in this order.

Frost the Snow Jar:
Clean the jar thoroughly. Cover the rim of the jar with masking tape to protect it from the frost spray paint. I also put spray paint can tops into the jar to protect the inside from any fly away spray paint. Lightly spray the jar with a thin layer of frost and let dry. IMG_1147 EditedRepeat 2-3 times or until you feel that the jar is frosted to your desired level of frostiness. Apply two coats of sealant to help protect the frost from chipping.
The frost won’t stick to a jar that has any oils from your skin so stick your hand inside the jar to complete the instructions. Be sure to put something over the top to prevent any rebel spray paint drops and don’t skip that sealant. The first jar that I frosted chipped badly when I put it under running water to clean it. I didn’t even use soap or scrub it. So invest the time and $4 dollars on a can of sealant.

Old Silk Hat:
Spray paint the lid black. I used three coats and a clear sealent to try to protect it from chipping.

I put a glitter overlay on one hat, which I have to admit was my favorite! I’m a little glitter crazy right now so I put the glitter away and stuck to the traditional flat black hat.

Make it Snow:
I believe this step is pretty self explanatory. However if not, dip a pointed paintbrush into the white paint and randomly dot it on the jar. Remember, no two snowflakes are the same (sorry couldn’t resist).

The snow serves two purposes. First, in my opinion it gives the jar dimension. Second and more importantly frosted spray paint has the flaw I mentioned previously. Adding “snowflakes” covers up any chips and also helps to protect the jar from future chips.

Scarf:
You have two choices. You can pick a festive ribbon that you love or find a ribbon/fabric that you want to paint. I recommend that you choose a wire edge ribbon as it clings to the glass and prevents slippage. (I used puffy paints because they wereIMG_1394 Edited-3 close at hand and dried really fast.) Once you’ve made your ribbon choice, wrap it around the jar as tight as you can and knot it about 2/3’s of the way down the jar. Cut the ends and slip it off. Untie the scarf and with a glue gun apply a thin layer of glue to the scarf and quickly retie it to the jar…this glue dries fast! 

I choose to paint my ribbon because I liked the rustic country look. It also allowed me to make each snowman somewhat unique without buying 5 different ribbons. This step is really up to your discretion. I only did this to about 1/2 of my jars, because I kept changing my mind about wether or not it made sense. No matter how tight you retie the scarf it slips. However, once it’s glued it’s going to be a pain to rinse or wash the jar. Granted, the ear muffs aren’t exactly water proof – but still, it’s something to consider.

Earmuffs:
I got lucky with this, my jar had two seams down the sides so I knew where the exact middle was. The most important thing to remember about using superglue is that your decision is semi-permanent. If you pull the earmuffs off, you’ll also pull off a little bit of your snowman. I suggest starting small, if you glue a small part of the earmuffs to the glass and it’s uneven you have some room to manuever them by moving parts of the muffs around and gluing that edge down. If it’s a lost cause and your muffs are hopelessly crooked you can pull it off and cover a small glue spot with a slight shift.

I screwed the lid on as well to help me get an idea of where everything fit. I know it sounds like a small step, but this really helped me with placing the earmuffs evenly.

Face:
By now you will have narrowed the expanse of your snow jar greatly, so it’s time to create your face. The snowman has a classic smiley face. : ) I made the eyes pinprick small and then drew a smile with dots. The first time you do it I would suggest keeping the smileIMG_1399 somewhat small as well until you think you are finished. You can add on, but it’s tricky to get rid of black dots. Next, I attached the nose (see nose instruction below). Once the nose was attached, I enlarged the eyes and filled in the smile.

It may seem like a strange method, but my first snowman looked like something out of a b-rated horror film. It’s very difficult to sweeten a killer snowman. By starting small and building the face slowly you give yourself room to “edit.” The small dab may start out as the center of your eyes but once you attach the nose you may discover that they are too close together – let that be the corner of the eye instead, etc. Another reason to start with small dots is if you make a mistake that can’t be fixed with creative maneuvering, you can cover it up with a white snowflake – just be sure that the black paint is completely dry first otherwise you will make dirty snow.

Nose:
The nose should resemble a triangle but also have a 3D look. Cut out a larger size triangle and glue the top two corners together. This will give it a sort of beakish look. To keep the 3D effect only place glue on the top half and affix it to the jar. 

Surprisingly, at least to me the nose was the hardest part (as you can see from IMG_1187 Editedthe multiple cuts in the felt). I put it at a slightly upwards angle so that it doesn’t lay flat against the jar. Just remember be sure you are committed to the spot. If you pull the carrot off it will pull the frost off as well and you’ll have an ugly spot. My snowmen were going be a tribute to the classic holiday song “Frosty The Snowman”. In the song Frosty didn’t have a carrot nose. He had a button nose. While I waited for the spray paint to dry on the frosting jars I made a practice jar, and I’m so glad I did. The button nose was a fail. It turned my snowman into a snow bear and now I have a very strange cup holder. If you are following this post and making your own snow jar and had the same aspirations as me, I hope my fail will save you time and disappointment.IMG_1333 Edited-2

As you can see your snowman is complete! You can keep your snowman empty as decoration, or fill it with sugar cubes, cotton balls, q-tips, or even place a votive candle inside for a festive glow.

gift · holiday · perishable

Do you take Sugar? One Lump or Two? – DIY Sugar Cubes


IMG_1313IMG_1323DIY Sugar Cubes


What you need:
½ Cup Sugar
2 teaspoons of water
silicone ice cube tray or mini candy moldIMG_1194 Edited

What I used:
(in addition to items listed above)
1 Bowl (more if you are making several batches)
1 spoon
1 teaspoon
Aluminum foil
Cutting board
Empty food coloring bottle purchased from King Soopers (Trust me you will want this!)
Airtight jar to store your sugar cubes

Airtight jars I used:
Ikea “slom” Jar
16oz Golden Harvest Jars
Upcycled Mason Jar from Tokyo Joe’s restaurant (which I turned into Snowmen.)

It’s important to complete this process quickly. The sugar water mixture dries quickly and it’s best to get it pressed into your molds before that happens. I recommend reading through this first before you start!

IMG_1165Combine ½ cup sugar and 2 TEASPOONS of water in a bowl and stir. Be sure to scrape the sides. 

The first blog I read just said to make a “sugar paste.” Trust me, 2 teaspoons comes from countless experiments. It might not seem like a lot of water but do not add more or you might not end up with sugar cubes, you’ll have chewy candy goo that never dries. If you get stuck or stop for any reason just stir your mixture a bit to moisten up any sugar that may get dry.

Using the measuring spoon, fill each mold with a 1 teaspoon sized scoop of the sugar mixture. Tightly press the mixture down into the the mold. IMG_1287 Edited-3

I spent a lot of time looking for something that would fit into the molds (and was sanitary). I had a lot of sugar cubes that dried and fell apart because I couldn’t get the sugar packed tightly enough. If you have a King Soopers near by, I strongly recommend that you buy their store brand of food coloring bottles for this project. They may save you a lot of time and frustration. The top of the bottles fit into the corners of each one of the silicone molds that I have used.128821 128811

Once you have all of your sugar cubes packed tightly into their molds, you want to flip them out. Place aluminum foil and the cutting board over the top and flip the mold over. Lift the mold and cover with aluminum foil . Let the sugar cubes sit until dry (usually overnight).

The first 10 or so times I didn’t think to add the cutting board. I broke about 15% of the sugar cubes. However, once I incorporated the cutting board into the process, I never broke a cube again. (Ali, dumb) Unless you have lightening fast flipping skills, I recommend that you don’t skip this tool.

I usually check on them about 12-24 hours later. I just push on a sugar cube, if it breaks they aren’t done. If it holds firm… Congratulations! You made sugar cubes!

 


IMG_1312
Try thisIMG_1356 EditedIMG_1363 Edited-5

  • add food coloring to make colorful sugar cubes
  • Substitute raw sugar or other types of sugar.