Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Old Microwave Cabinet turned Laundry Room Storage

After moving into our new house that is well over twice the size of our old house, we quickly realized we had lots of empty space to fill and very little budget to fill those rooms. I've been going particularly crazy with our laundry room that has no cabinets, so I decided to try to revamp a very old microwave cabinet, that had been previously relegated to our garage because it was so old and tacky. We pulled off the shelf that was on top of the cabinet and filled in the holes with wood putty. (We did this awhile back so I don't have a before picture but it looked like this one. I can't imagine paying that much!) 
So I pulled off the handles, lightly sanded the rough parts and gave it a good scrub
I chose Rustoleum's Painter's Choice spray paint in spa blue because my husband isn't nearly as big of a fan as I am of bright colors. The laundry room seems like a great place of a pop of happy blue since I'm usually not super happy to be there.
I wanted to spend as little as possible, especially considering very few people are going to actually see this piece, so I used a hammered metal finish spray paint that I already had. The effect is very nice if you haven't used this paint before and you can only tell it isn't metal by touch. 
Since there were lots of imperfections in this cabinet due to lots of wear, I decided to do a distressed finish. Simply take a medium grain sandpaper and rub lightly around the edges and on the surface. If you want a more subtle distressed look you may want to use a fine grain. More pressure = more paint removed.
I love the look of distressed furniture pieces but I've never done one myself. It's a fabulous technique for a piece that's in a little rough shape like this was because it makes the flaws look purposeful. 
The knobs look more black in the pictures but have a mix of antiqued black metal with bronze undertones which makes the metal effect so realistic
I love the fact that I have some storage and organization to my laundry room and all it cost was a can of spray paint! I will definitely be looking more closely at garage sales this summer for other ways to upgrade outdated furniture to fill the rest of our rooms :)

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Baby Gift Basket and Ribbon Organizer

In putting together these baby gifts for a friend, I ended up using several types of ribbon. I know this has been all over Pinterest, but it took less than 5 minutes to do and has made my life easier (my main goal most days!). All you do is put your ribbon spools on a pants hanger. 
Then it's all right there - no more sorting through piles of ribbon spools, just pull the length you need, cut and back into the closet. Super easy! Even if you're not a huge crafter, this would be great for holiday or gift wrapping ribbons.

I love gift baskets - they are so much fun to put together and I love getting them too! I found a cute way to make the usual addition of diapers a little more fun. I took a pile and wrote little notes on them - some funny and some encouraged for those late night diaper changes. Some said things like:
*I'll sleep one day, I promise!
*You're doing a great job, Mommy (and one for Daddy)
*Sleep is over-rated
*Potty-training is not that far away :)
*I love you, I love you, I love you
I think they came out looking pretty darn cute! I originally thought of mixing them in between plain diapers, but didn't like a messy pile of diapers in the gift basket. So instead I chose a simple white bag.
I ran a ribbon through the top and then added a tag warning these were special "only after midnight" diapers
I got this basket at Michaels and I've used it before because I like the classic, neutral colors for either gender. Add in some diapers, diaper rash creme, soap, vapor bath, books, a small photo album, a sleep and play outfit and a lovey and we've got a fun welcome home baby gift! 

Friday, April 26, 2013

Washcloth Bouquet for New Baby

This was a cute twist on taking a "bouquet" to the hospital. All you need are 6-12 washcloths to use as "flowers", scrapbook paper and ribbon. The thicker terrycloth washcloths don't work as well as the thinner ones made for infants. Since I didn't know the gender of the baby I had to get gender neutral cloths and there weren't that many, so my flowers were a little muted. 
Lay out the washcloth flat and roll it up evenly
Then pull the center of the rolled up edge up so it resembles the bud of a rose
As I was rolling them, I found it easiest to hold my "stems" together with a large elastic hair tie
Then you made a paper cone out of your chosen paper and place the bouquet inside. I lined the bouquet holder with green tissue paper to give it some extra color and shape
Then add a few pieces of paper between a couple of the cloths like leaves and finish with a bow. Much more useful than traditional flowers and easier to pack when the new parents leave the hospital! This would be a fun way to do a larger bouquet with hand towels for a bridal shower. 

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Octopus Frame Print for a Pirate Room

I had a hard time getting a good picture of the final product with the frame but I love this technique. All you do is find an animal that you want to use as your focus. I'm currently working on my son's pirate themed room, so I found this great whimsical octopus. If you want to use a simple animal with a clean outline, google animal coloring pages for preschoolers and you'll find lots of options. 
 I just printed out the photo I liked - it was a very dark photo and I'm cheap with printer ink so I just lightened the photo until it was using less ink, which caused the weird coloring. 
Then I cut it out using an xacto knife
Here's the map I chose as the background, but you could use any type of paper. You can find tons of free maps through Google and even public government sites for most cities and states.
Place the cutout on top of the map and finish in a frame.If you look closely, you can see I kept a few of the cutouts from the mat that were between tentacles and added them to create some negative space as a detail. This would be a wonderful technique to use as a baby gift or for any kids' rooms! 

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Framed Wall Art with Free Letter Prints

I love the look of found letters from signs and in objects, that are being used in lots of crafts recently. I found a wonderful flickr account that you can find here where the owner has put thousands of letters for FREE (my favorite word)! I wanted to include one on the infamous wall and I let my daughter choose which letter A she liked the best. She loved this one and while it wasn't my first choice, I sometimes have to remind myself to let her develop her own tastes instead of imposing mine on her. She liked the yellow and I thought a fun frame would complete the print. I actually found this cheap plastic frame at the dollar store and just covered the horrible "antique" silver finish with Rustoleum Painters Touch Sun Yellow. This was a quirky piece of art for the home and I spent about a dollar total, since I had the spray paint leftover from another project. I would love to do a larger frame with some of these letters to spell our our name or just a mixture of initials. This would also make an easy and unique gift for anyone, but the affordability might make it good for a teacher gift. 

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Love Canvas

We have been hit by the stomach flu at our house and I'm working on some more time consuming DIY projects so I'm behind on posting, but here's one I did quite awhile back that I wanted to share. I apologize there are few step by step photos as the one of the tape on the blank canvas was accidentally deleted. I used an 11x 14 board from a value pack of blank canvas covered boards that I find to be more affordable for these projects with kids than the wrapped canvases. You can get them at Michaels or JoAnn and they are even cheaper if you save one of those 40 or 50% off coupons. I simply used painters tape to tape off the letters L, V, and E and made a heart shape for the O. You could cut out letters that are much more perfect or use enlarged stickers, but I really liked the effect of the rough outlines. After the painters tape is firmly in place, just let the kids go with finger painting in whatever way they want to do! One of my tips for truly messy projects (as this one could be with younger kids and certainly was for us) is letting the kids do the painting in the bathtub. Then afterwards all I have to do is spray down the tub and if they are a terrible mess, I don't have to worry about paint drips all the way from our kitchen table to the bathroom to clean-up! It also makes it easier for me to let them enjoy themselves rather than constantly reminding them to "be careful". 
I admit I always love seeing the little hand prints, so I convinced my oldest to do a few clear hand prints of
top of the masterpiece. Then comes the fun part: peeling off the letters!
As you can see the paint did bleed a little on the edges of the letters (my kids used LOTS of paint) but I thought the effect looked cool. Plus the quirky lettering and imperfections in finishing fits with the overall idea that even in the midst of the of chaos and mess that kids make, we find the very best thing.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Just Be You Sign

As part of my ever growing "wall" of art for Abby's room (yes it will be finished eventually!) I found the inspiration for a room sign that was simple but the ultimate message I hope to send to my daughter. 
You could use any size of wood depending on how large you want the sign to be. I chose these pre-cut boards from Michael's that came in a pack of 5 and were the exact size I wanted. Otherwise all I needed was paint, ribbon and my handy dandy mod podge.
I was able to talk my daughter out of painting her room pink, but the exchange for that is lots of pink accents. I chose the ombre effect, but after looking at the last two pinks for a while, I later repainted them a slightly muted tones you see below. 
Transferring letters to wooden surfaces can be a pain with cutting out letters and tracing, but I found this technique and it is SO much simpler! All you do is print out the words you want in your chosen font. Then trace the words with a pen, giving a fair amount of pressure. 
When you lift the paper, the outlines are there clear as day and then you just color them in with paint. Easy!
The impressions are a little tough to see, but they are clearly there, even with the 3 panel where I used a glossy paint. I was worried the glossy finish would make it tough to see the outline, but there was no difference.

After painting it in with white paint and sealing with mod podge I used this twine like ribbon to give it a finishing touch. You could use a piece of wood to adhere the four panels to for hanging, but since my sign was so small, I just glued them to a small piece of cardboard and then made a hanging hook with a ribbon on the back. 

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Silhouette Wall Art

 Maybe it's just me but I absolutely LOVE silhouettes of kids and I knew I definitely wanted to include one in my daughter's room. There are lots of ideas out there that are supposed to be easier than this, most of which involve various computer programs, but I found this to be a good approach and I love the final product. First off you start with a picture of your child taken from the side (it should go without saying that getting one of these from my 4 year old was MUCH easier than with my 1 1/2 year old!)
I put this in black and white with high contrast to help the outline be crisp, but I ended up loving the picture this way.
I use a pre-cut wooden shape from Michael's that was already primed with white paint. It may be a little more in cost, but these shapes save you a ton of time in sanding and fewer paint layers are needed. Well worth it in my book. 
I just cut out the outline of her picture using an x-acto knife and then traced and cut it out of black acid free paper. You could use a variety of patterned papers and background colors for a more whimsical look
Then I placed the cut out on the form, but didn't glut it down. I wanted a bright accent color so I traced a small plate to get a crisp circle and then painted the outer edge this bright green:
After the paint dried, I adhered the silhouette with matte finish mod podge. 
Here is the final result:
I also found a tip on how to make tiny bows for crafts and cards here so I made a tiny bow to give a fun accent. 
I love this for any room in the house, but I will definitely be doing this for my son's room as well. It would be great to have these as they grow to put together for a family wall of silhouettes when the kids are older. 

Monday, April 15, 2013

Calm Down Jar

As most parents of four-year olds, especially girls that have a flair for the dramatic like mine, you're always looking for techniques to turn to when your child is in the throes of a tantrum. I loved the idea of a calm-down jar that I found and decided to give it a try. One thing I would note is that I had the large size Ball jars at home leftover from another project and we used one of these even though it's a little too big and heavy for her to shake on her own. I've made a smaller one that is easier for her to handle, but she tends to prefer the bigger one because it's "prettier to look at". I also want to try making one with a plastic container for younger kids in the future.
All you need is a jar, fine glitter, clear glue and food coloring. You can use coarse glitter, but it does fall faster than the fine glitter. I put a little course glitter, but preferred the fine glitter by far. You can also use glitter glue instead of the clear glue. I tried this initially and it worked, but you need a ton of glitter glue. Since it can get pricey, I felt the clear glue was more cost effective.
First we added in food coloring 
Of course she chose pink and purple, then added in lots of glitter. Its a process of adding glitter and glue until you get the effect you're hoping for. If the glitter falls too quickly, add more glue. 
Then you just watch the glitter until it all falls to the bottom and you get a chance to calm down. I kept adding glue until it took about 2 minutes for all of the glitter to be completely settled at the bottom. It's not a magic cure but there have been several melt-downs where I've asked Abby to sit with the jar and even if she wasn't completely calm, the emotions were headed in that direction. 
You don't have to do anything to decorate the jar top, but I thought the writing wasn't fitting so we chose some pretty flower paper instead. I just cut it to fit the top and then sealed it with matte finish mod podge. I also put a thick seal of hot glue around the outer rim to prevent leaks. I made some sensory jars using this method on some small plastic containers when Abby was 1 and they still haven't leaked. 
This is the jar when the glitter had settled. She preferred the water to be colored but it also could be cool to leave the water clear and have brightly colored glitter swirling. Here's to anything that might make our tantrums be fewer and farther in between! Good Luck :)

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Messy Fun Soap Cloud and EPIC fail soap cloud paint

Last weekend I decided to try the famed Ivory Soap Cloud that most of you have probably seen on many Pinterest posts. I cut the bar in half so each kid could have their own plate and then we gathered around the microwave to watch the magic. I've read instructions for this activity that recommended 2 minutes in the microwave, but our soap only needed about 30 seconds before it started to blow up into a huge fluffy cloud. 
Soap Cloud in the Microwave
Once the cloud comes out it is pretty warm so I would let it cool off for a couple of minutes, especially for little hands. As you can see, my little man loved playing in the fluff and making a big mess. 
Abby liked playing kitchen with the mixture
The more you stir and play, it turns into powder similar to artificial snow. While the kids had fun and I would do this again but I would definitely do the activity outside, because most of my kitchen surfaces had powder soap all over the place! This activity went pretty well but then I made the mistake of overachieving and trying to do a second project with the powder soap flakes. I found a pin on how to turn the leftover soap flakes into bath paint by putting a cup of the soap into a blender with boiling water. 
The instructions didn't say how much water to add so it was a guessing game of put in too much, then add more soap and try for the best. Unfortunately while the soap looked like the consistency of yogurt in the blender (as directed), once we poured the mixture in the muffin pan, the soap seemed to harden and was thick goop. We still added food coloring hoping that it would be usable and headed to the bath. 
By the time we had both kids in the bath, the "paint" was pretty much stuck in the pan. I had some leftover flakes and while my 4 year old was getting impatient waiting to paint, I gave them to her to play with. So of course she promptly took a huge handful and while trying to toss it in the air, paying no attention, she flings it right into my 20 month old's eyes! My husband instinctively wipes his face with wet hands making the situation worse. At this point both kids are crying - one because his eyes are full of soap flakes and the other because she's in trouble. After the dust settled, they still wanted back in the bath to play so we gave them 
the bath goop and this was what we got:

 In summary??