May 3, 2012
I’m not really sure what inspired me to add polka-dots to the matting of a picture. I remember killing some time at an office supply store (a bit too early to go get my son from school) when I saw their selection of brown Kraft labels. There are some fancy shapes out there now, not just rectangles and circles, but I am a sucker for the dot!
I ended up finding my Kraft brown circles on-line because I wanted a smaller size than the ones offered in-store. Then I found a frame with a wide matting included (look for the ones meant for signatures around a photo).
Using a ruler, I found the center line of each side, then used a pencil to lightly mark off-center points, half points and quarter points. I applied the dots at these points and then filled-in the rest by eyeballing the spacing. Fold over the dots that overlap the edges, or carefully cut them off.
I chose Kraft brown and a black and white frame, but there are printable labels and a lot of colors as well. You could match a color in your room, or create a cute frame for a boy or girl’s room. Even, buy a dark-colored matting and add white dots. So many possibilities. Have fun!
April 12, 2012
This year we decided on Lion King, Sweeney Todd and Chicago.
For the Lion King table, I knew I wanted a big lion head mask hovering above. I was trying to figure out ways to create this out of foam, etc., when I finally decided on a flatter, paper mache version. I used two circles of cardboard, the support from large frozen pizzas, and began to cut and form my base. Then I tore bits of brown kraft paper and used Modge Podge to help build the nose and brows as well as add texture. I then used a wash of a golden, mustard colored paint to give it subtle color. After hacking down the tallest possible grass weeds I could find (some over 6 feet tall) I began the process of cutting and glueing them around the face for the mane. Additional paint and even chalk pastels finished my lion’s features. A final light coating of gold glitter spray made him ready for the stage.
I then took a ton of the six-foot grasses and put them into a weighted, tall basket, added some gold glittery curly sticks and then added Rafiki’s staff as a finishing touch. I placed a layer of burlap as an additional table covering and used teal colored napkins. It really had a nice grass-lands effect. The ultimate was Rafiki as the table server. The make-up was phenomenal (this I did not do)! I created the neck piece out of rope, coiled and tied into place with yarn and then painted. Then I added a couple of layers of a black feather boa. Her hair was held in place with a scarf-made-stiff with a sheet of cardstock and a wig of black stiff hair popping out of the top. She turned out fantastic!
For Sweeney Todd, the Demon Barber of Fleet Street, I started with the obvious – meat pies. I used salt dough and formed three-sided pies on inverted soufflé dishes. After baking them, I needed to paint them with watered down gold and brown colors to give them an appetizing color (pictured above, one before painting, one after). Then I decided instead of a regular cloth napkin, each guest would have a flour-sack type dish towel with an old fashion “Mrs. Lovett’s World Famous Meat Pies” screen print. Finishing the pie shop look (to recreate the barbershop may have been too gruesome for a dinner event) I used a black and white plaid cloth, a butcher block stacked with the pies on a three-tier rack and assorted old grinders, tenderizers and choppers borrowed from a local antique store. At the very top of the stack of pies is a straight blade razor.
The Chicago table was pretty much pulled from the theater’s prop and costume room; the table-cloth, a great silver-gray sheened fabric that looks to be a man’s ascot of the era; a red feather boa; some fedoras and bowler style hats; long strands of beads and guns and knives. I did borrow mannequin parts from a generous retailer, two arms and a leg, that I covered in fish nets and long black gloves. I found a small barrel that fit the leg and also a bunch of peacock feathers. Then I covered the barrel with a lace-up bustier and silvery black netting to hide anything necessary. Voila!
They auctioned off two more tables for next year, but the winners didn’t mention a wanted show-theme, so we’ll see what lies ahead. But I really, really want to do a Spamalot table!! My husband even volunteered to bang coconuts together and follow around the table’s server. What a hoot!
April 7, 2012
There are only so many hard-boiled eggs one family can eat, let’s face it. But we sooo love to dye them, that we always make too many. So there the dye sat, so much un-used and my boys still wanting to create something long after the egg-basket was overflowing.
So I went into the drawer and pulled out the basket coffee filters. I folded one into quarters and then once again, trimmed the ruffled edge into a petal shape and started dipping into the Easter-egg dye. These (pictured) were made with the yellow, orange and pinkish-red dyes. The filters absorb the dye easily so no need to dunk the whole thing. Then I carefully opened them and left them to dry on our already-covered-in-plastic table.
After they were dry, I gathered them in the centers and twisted and layered two or three to create the flower. I used wire and floral tape to create a stem. The kids cut and dyed a bunch too, I did the wiring and taping, though.
My son then declared we needed a vase. Since these flowers need no water, I decided the vase needed no bottom. I simply took our pastel stained egg crate and folded it in thirds and stapled the seam. Kinda fun, funky modern looking. And the best part is… we don’t have to eat them! Happy Easter!
April 2, 2012
A friend was doing some “spring cleaning” in her yard about a week or so ago. Not normally a thing I get too excited about, except I found out she was hacking at a huge curly willow bush! One phone call with that kind of information can send a “scrounging for free stuff” kind of gal like me into a frenzy. I went to her place as quickly as possible and loaded the back end of our Subaru with the long clippings.
Let them dry up for a while in a dry place, strip the leaves with a leather-gloved hand, and, voila! Instant container fillers! I gave more than half of them to my mother and put the rest into a big container in my entryway and some in our bath. We rarely use this tub, so I had no issues having the twigs swirl and coil all over the place.
Fun, interesting and cheap (I refuse to pay for dead twigs at a craft store. SO overpriced!!). Now I’m on the hunt for pussywillows. They should be peaking about now, I think. Love making wreaths out of them for spring. They are great shoved into giant containers, too. So just look in your yard, nearby forest, or even your neighbor’s yard for great decor items, and find interesting containers (need to be fairly heavy to not tip!) to cram them into. Instant art. I swear.
December 28, 2011
“I’ll Be Late for Christmas” has sort of become our motto for this holiday season. I’m not sure there was anything specific that put me so far behind, but Thanksgiving travels, lots of catch-up work, gingerbread houses and too many trips to the ER (broken bones and a full body cast) and doctors pretty much did us in.
The gorgeous 12 foot Christmas tree is only half decorated. One wreath and the stockings were the only decor to make it out of storage. No fun holiday baking was done, nor was there even a chance to properly shop for gifts for family and friends.
Through the busy hours, however, I found myself listening to Christmas music almost constantly and had come to really enjoy some new songs. So, in lieu of homemade baked goods, or jars of preserves from our kitchen, we exchanged with our friends and neighbors a music CD (the hubs kept offering it as our “mix tape”).
The inside cover had our holiday wishes and a few pictures along with the playlist. I bought jewel cases of red and green at the office store and printed CD labels. But they have adorable already-designed blank CDs available now, too. Total time saver.
As for the music, I tried to add some classics performed by some different groups, some original songs and a small mix of genres. Not everyone will like every song, but it’s the thought that counts – right?
I attempted to “share” my playlist on iTunes for you all to see (and use if you’re so inclined), but wasn’t sure how to link to it, etc. So you can search for it like this:
Go to the iTunes store. In the search window in the upper right corner, type “I’ll be late for christmas!” and then search. Find my playlist on the lower left side of the results in the “Playlists” section.
There were other non-baked, but creative and appreciated exchanges we got from friends that are worth noting. One family came-a-carolling to sing us “We Whisk you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Beer.” And then gifted us the whisk with a baking mix and a 20 oz micro brew. Loved it!!
Another fun idea that was gifted us was a beautifully adorned bag of mistletoe with lip gloss attached and a note that read, “For you and your husband to enjoy!” Find my friend’s blog The Full Measure for a great read and more great ideas!
Since what little we did get done for Christmas was only just done, I think we’ll be observing the “12 Days of Christmas” as they were meant to be, with the first day being December 25th. I still won’t bake, decorate or shop. But we will slow down, read stories and sit by the fire listening to Christmas music and hopefully regain the bits of the Christmas season that we love and feel like we missed while trying to keep-up with everything else. Merry Christmas.
December 21, 2011
The kicker is, you have to follow the festival’s theme for the year. The 2011 theme was “Snowflake Adventures,” so I complied. But that meant somehow creating an “adventure” out of all edible things and incorporating a house…. hmmm. Ski lodge?
Eight boxed cakes, two double batches of marshmallow, two double recipes of royal icing and one batch of gingerbread dough later (along with other assorted edibles), you have a three-story Adirondack tobogganing resort complete with rope tow, bonfire and skating pond. Whew.
Random list of edibles used?? Shredded wheat, pretzels, guacamole tortilla chips, dried beans, dried pasta, fruit roll-ups, fruit-by-the-foot, graham cereal, chocolates, candy canes and melted hard candies.
I haven’t made a gingerbread house in a couple of years, so it was fun to create this. My first time in a competition as well. I did win first in my class and then took the championship. Two pretty ribbons to prove it. What did I win? A mention in the local paper and my house on display in the hospital lobby (I think they spelled my name wrong). Would I do it again? Yes!
November 7, 2011
I first heard about these cookies from my mother, who saw them on one of the morning shows. She madly scribbled the recipe down and gave me a copy. The idea was good. The cookie dough was too cakey for my tastes. But I tried them again.
This time I used a basic chocolate chip cookie recipe and instead of chocolate chips, I added an equal amount of anything.
The “compost” of the cookie is anything and everything edible you want it to be. Perfect for cleaning out the pantry and using leftover Halloween candy. I let my son fill the measuring cup with whatever he thought should be in the cookies. The only thing I added was some oats. Everything from Raisinettes to goldfish crackers (look closely for the fish in the photo!), pretzels and Sugar Babies to broken-up fortune cookies went into these. I must say the chewy-salty-sweet surprises make them pretty good.
The only change from the basic cookie recipe would be to refrigerate for about an hour before baking. Otherwise they will spread too much and burn the goodies. A true American dessert – a little bit of everything thrown in. Enjoy!