Tuesday, July 24, 2012

simple happiness.

My other late-night weekend craft extravaganza? Switching up the frames in my room. For the last year or so, the frames have looked like this (and I’ve loved them) –

I thought, however, it was time for (another) change. I used a very simple yellow scrapbook paper from the craft store to brighten up the four square frames, and my room. I guess I’m on a yellow kick.

Then, I placed black patterned scrapbook paper in two larger frames.

    Then, I sat back and smiled.

Altogether, I’m very happy with the finished creations.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

paint positive.

I did a little late-night painting this weekend. First, I decided to paint my plain white lampshade yellow. I was thinking it would come out a paler shade of yellow (and when it is not lit up, it is pale yellow), but the surprise brighter yellow is growing on me. The striated effect was an accident, by the way. I painted and repainted, hoping for a smoother look. When I had finished painting and plugged the lamp in, that is when I discovered the streaky kind of appearance. It’s also growing on me.

The second painting experiment involved four glass bottles I had bought at the craft store about a year ago. For the last year, I had fake blue flowers in the bottles, but it was time for a change. On Pinterest, I saw a “pin” for painting vases – basically pouring paint into the container and turning it a certain way in order to get the paint spread out evenly. So, I gave it a shot. I poured yellow paint into the four small bottles and turned them so they would, eventually, be covered on the inside with paint. I ran out of paint on the last one, so the fourth bottle can never be turned to the side or the back – only the front inside is actually painted. Anyhow. Even though this little project made a pretty sizeable mess (thanks to my impatience when it comes to crafting – at times, I decided to speed the process along by shoving a paintbrush into the bottles and trying to paint the insides myself. That only coated the paintbrush in yellow, not to mention my hands), I enjoyed the painting (I enjoyed playing around with the paint mess, too, I will admit). Now, I am on the lookout for more (small) painting missions.

It makes me happy just thinking about it.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

craft magic.

“What’s going on, guys?” Stinker asked as the tiny beads spilled all over the floor.

[A very good question indeed, especially when it comes to craft experiments]

“Craft disaster!” I exclaimed, silently cursing Pinterest for its so-called “anyone-can-do-this!” crafts… and silently being thankful that Stinker is not the type of two-year old to eat small things off the floor.
[The beginning of our craft tryout this weekend]

I found the craft “recipe” online I wanted to try – using melted Perler beads to create a bowl. So, Stacy, Stinker and I gave it a shot. First, we put a single layer of the beads down into a microwaveable bowl and tried microwaving the suckers until they would stick together. No such luck. We just ended up with a really, really hot bowl (and another "what's going on, guys?" from Stinker). So, we positioned the Perler beads in an oven-safe bowl (after watching about half of them roll off the kitchen table), then placed the bowl into the oven to let the beads begin to melt.

Then, the magic began (craft magic is so cool, in a completely nerdy way). The Perler beads melted together and took on the shape of the bowl, slowly crawling up the sides. And once they had finished “baking,” and I finally got them peeled off the container (I was a little afraid for a minute I had ruined one of Stacy's bowls), we ended up with this…

Stinker and I agreed, not only was it "so cool," the bowl could be a bowl, but it could also very well be a princess crown or even a colorful hat (see the crown below). At one point later on, it also doubled as a “hot tub” for her Little People. In any case, and even with its rocky beginning, I would say the project turned out a lot of happiness.

Sunday, July 15, 2012


I spent the weekend in Richmond with my good friends, Stacy and Chris, and their two little ones - Stinker and Little Bit. Whenever Stacy visits, or I visit her, we always bake dessert (or ressert, as Stinker likes to call it). Once, we made Sesame Street cookies and tried our hand at decorating with an icing bag.

During another visit, we made Smores brownies. This go ‘round, we baked cupcakes, topped with green icing and flower petal-shaped marshmallows. Turns out, cutting a giant marshmallow into four slices gives you four shapes that resemble flower petals...

We dipped the petals into blue and yellow food coloring, and used one of the cut marshmallows as a sponge to “paint” on the color. Stinker helped, and once we had all sufficiently dyed our hands green and yellow and blue, and placed the marshmallows onto the cupcakes, we ended up with these lovely creations…

Every time we bake and decorate, Stacy and I say, "We should open a bakery!" Who knows, maybe we will some day... after we've had more practice with the icing bag and cupcake design... and after we find an electric mixer. For now, though, it's nice to have the special baking memories with such a special friend.

Crafty hands at work beneath the sound of a toddler's talk and old friends' laughter... and happiness around a receiving kitchen table.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

stencil in.

So, Katie and I decided to do a little painting this week – small flower pots. I went with a crimson color for mine, and she chose yellow. I had been excited to try out my new stencils – stick-on stencils that make the painting a lot easier – and used yellow paint to add the swirly-flowery design. Katie opted for polka dots, using a pencil eraser to paint blue dots onto her flower pot.

We both agreed – the process is more satisfying than the end product. Crafting is fun, especially when you are right in the middle of it. But, oftentimes, I notice something about my craft that was not exactly planned. Katie shared the same opinion. Maybe the paint doesn’t dry exactly the color you thought it would. Or you smear paint with the stencil. Maybe your paint runs down the side of your canvas. Or you smudge the piece with your fingertips. Inevitably, something happens, something unplanned, or something you thought you could avoid altogether. And, in the end, you’re left with something that resembles what you had in mind but does not match up exactly with the picture in your head.

I guess the thing to remember is – enjoy the painting. In those moments, whatever it is can still be whatever it might be, whatever you think it can. Your blue hydrangea-colored paint dries a blue hydrangea color. Your stenciling is clean. The paint stays in its place. And your piece is smudge-free. All of these ideas in your mind are happening in the moment. They are what you think they are and what you make of them. And if the end product doesn’t come out exactly as you once thought, at least you enjoyed the time in between (the happiness there), when it could have been anything, when it could have been exactly as you hoped it would be.

Monday, July 9, 2012

jiggle giggles.

For the fourth, I decided to try making a festive treat. Red, white and blue Jello pudding pops.

I made strawberry Jello, berry blue Jello and vanilla pudding. Then, I cut the strawberry and berry blue Jello into small squares and mixed them in to the pudding. I spooned the mixture into Dixie cups, placed a popsicle stick into the center of each and froze the treats. They came out pretty tasty. I just wish they looked a little more like the recipe’s picture.

When I mixed the blue Jello with the pudding, it turned the pudding a shade of green. I might re-do this recipe one day and see if I can avoid the green-age (see below). I might also try other popsicles and use chocolate pudding or vanilla pudding and fruit instead.

As it turns out, Jello leads to happiness. It’s fun to make, it’s fun to watch jiggle (seriously, the jiggle made me giggle). It was fun making a new, fat-free dessert, and popsicles for the first time. Sweets and smiles...

Sunday, July 8, 2012

in bloom.

I took on another craft this past week. Making a wreath. Okay, I didn’t really make the wreath. I decorated it. I put flowers on it. But still, it’s a changed wreath.

I found the rustic wreath at the craft store (possibly my new favorite store), along with a variety of flowers, including (and especially) hydrangeas, in greens and blues and white and yellow ribbon. I passed up the clip-on butterflies and a giant multi-colored bow, and I was proud of my restraint. When it comes to crafts and me, I always add more and more. I’m trying to cut back.
Anyhow. I cut the stems of the flowers and took my time finding just the right arrangement. I played with the yellow ribbon for a long time, tying bows and winding the ribbon, then decided to get rid of it. Here is what I came up with.

Having something pretty to look at brings happiness. But the happiness started well before the project was complete. It started when the idea came to me, to make something, to pick out the pieces and put something together. It started when I began cutting the stems, positioning the flowers, tying the ribbon. It started with a simple hands-on craft and a handful of flowers waiting to bloom.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

hands at work.

There’s a certain kind of comfort in doing something hands-on. Crafting. Cooking. Gardening. And so, I decided to dedicate this month to hands-on activities.

It started off with a trip to the craft store. And, after purchasing several canvas boards, acrylic paint, a stencil, and a small paint roller (handiest discovery yet), along with three wooden words (believe, create, dream), I set up my craft corner and got to work. Yes, I actually set up a craft area for the afternoon.

First, I placed the stencil onto the canvases, and used the small paint roller to paint a robin’s egg blue onto two of the canvases, and a light yellow on the third. I haven’t had much luck with stencils in the past, but this one seemed to work out pretty well. I think the trick is… keep it simple. Instead of trying to stencil a whole wall of a bedroom.

Next, I painted the wooden words, and, because I just can’t leave anything alone, I decided to give the words an antique-look and lightly sponged paint around the edges of the wooden words.

I super-glued the words onto the canvases and... there you have it. Three wall hangings made from scratch.

I don’t paint a lot, but when I do, I find I enjoy it. A lot. There’s a concentration required yet it’s relaxed. It’s one of the few times when my mind is clear and still, and when the moment is full of only composed breathing. Of a quiet smile that reveals happiness in the hands-on.

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