Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Visual Daily Routine from Paint Cards

First, before anything else, if you didn't know this already, I entered a "Creative Bloggers Got Talent" contest over at Every Creative Endevor. The second round of voting has started, so head over there and VOTE! One of the projects is mine, but I can't tell you which one. :) Have fun!

Now back to our regularly-scheduled programming. ;)

Several months ago, I saw a daily rhythm chart in a giveaway on one of my favorite idea websites and thought "I could make one of those!" I at first thought I wanted to do felt (and that would still be cute), but I wanted to do something fairly simple since I don't have a lot of time on my hands during the week. While I was walking past the paint cards at Lowes a few weeks ago, inspiration hit!
A refrigerator daily rhythm chart, complete with pictures of our sweet kiddos!
I grabbed a TON of paint cards, some from each set of color, and cut them up.
 Then I laminated them--the laminator was our big family Christmas present!-- and cut them out.
 I used one of these little edge-cutters to round the sharp edges, but it took some babying.
 I cut some small sections of adhesive magnet...
 And stuck them on each color!
 First stage is done! That's a whole lotta cards!
Next, I printed out a bunch of pictures of the kiddos doing our daily things...
 Cut them out so that only the thing we are supposed to do is showing....
 And laminated them!
 After cutting them out, I added magnets to the back of each one.
 Finally, I wrote each daily activity on a card and matched them up with the pictures. I did some color organization: orange is food-related, green is self-care related, blue is playtime related, and purple is sleep related. There are a few pictures (like waking up and storytime) that didn't fit into those categories, so they got their own colors. I kept everything focused on activities and didn't worry about the time that we do them, only the order, since our 3 year old hasn't learned time-keeping yet (and I'm not planning to teach it soon).

 I still had a ton of cards left, so I decided to try something else. I took 10 of the more brilliant colors and arranged them in rainbow order. Then I wrote a number and added the corresponding number of dots on each one. These are now on the back of our daughter's easel (an Ikea one modded to be magnetic on the "chalkboard" side).
 And I still have 28 more! I temporarily felt like I MUST do something with them right away, but then I realized that it is OK for me to store them away for more inspiration. :)


Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Birthday Cake!

I've been working hard on a secret project for Every Creative Endevour's Creative Bloggers Got Talent contest. I got into the first round and am super excited to see what the other crafters do (and how my work compares to theirs). Fun!

Now on to my post... About a month ago, our daughter turned 3 years old! This is the first year she's actually cared about her birthday, so I was thrilled when she asked for a flower cake. I get to try to make a fun cake! Whee!

Nevermind that I've never done any sort of cake decorating before. I just sort of figured it out as I went, which is pretty typical of how I do most things. :)

The added challenge in this cake adventure was that 1) the cake and frosting needed to be dairy free (for me and our daughter) and 2) my husband only likes pound cakes, so if I wanted him to eat it, it had to be a pound cake. Picky man. ;)

Thank the Lord for the internet! I found a dairy free pound cake and an easy buttercream frosting recipe that would work well with a dairy free margarine. Everything baked nicely and whipped up nicely, so I was ready to go with my flower cake creating.

I decided I was going to do a standard 5 petal flower because they were easy enough to work around a circle and I just happened to have 6 4-inch cake pans in the cupboard. I baked the cakes the night before, let them cool completely, and then wrapped them (a lot!) in plastic wrap.

 The next day I unwrapped them and used a circle cookie cutter to cut off the edges so that all the circles were pretty much flat on the sides.
 I arranged them around the center circle to see how they looked.
 And trimmed a bit off with the same circle cookie cutter. I started with a small bit to make sure I didn't take too much off.
 Just about perfect. At this point, I spread icing on the inside of the edges so that the petals would stick to the center a bit. I was a bit skimpy on my icing at this point and the petals continued to move around a bit. I should have layered it on a bit more.
 Then I did a "crumb" layer of icing, just to smooth out the surface of the cake and take care of all the crumbs. Once that was finally done, then I could really frost this cake! The sides were the hardest for me. They never did turn out right.
 But, finally, after taking more of naptime, I got my flower cake looking decent. Then I remembered some sprinkles in the cupboard. Sprinkles cover a multitude of imperfections! :)
 I used yellow sugar on the petals and orange sprinkles for the middle. I was very pleased with how it turned out!

 Our daughter was thrilled with it.
 And it was yummy! Not quite like "real" pound cake, but not a bad substitute. :) You'll notice I also went pretty light on the icing. We aren't big icing fans around here. I was pleased with how well the icing spread and let me keep it thin.

Now we'll see if I'll be able to top myself for next year's birthday! ;)


Thursday, February 16, 2012

Colored Ice Blocks

Up for some winter fun? If the weather outside is hanging out below freezing, then this something for you and your kiddos!
This is a seriously simple project, but it's lots of fun. Our 3 year old daughter had fun "helping" me.

I did about 4 cups of each color. I just used regular liquid food coloring and added color until I liked how it looked. Liquid watercolors would probably work really well, also.
We poured the colors into all sorts of containers for freezing. Make sure to use containers that are wider at the top than at the bottom so that the blocks pop out nicely. I made the mistake of using cleaned juice "cans" and couldn't get the blocks out for 2 days! Oops.
An excited little girl.
Pretty colors! I did two mini-muffins of each color. I found that the purple turned kind of black as it froze, but the other colors worked out great.
We lined them all up outside and left them for 2 days.
Frozen! See how the purple (in the upper right corner) has turned blackish?
We timed our ice blocks really well. We had two really cold days to get them nice and solid, then the third day was a bit warmer so that the blocks came out a bit more easily.
I even bundled up our little guy to come watch. Sunlight is good for all of us!
So many possibilities!

Our daughter insisted that this is a parking garage (what??!) but it looks like an ice castle to me. :)
Twenty-four hours later, this is what our ice castle looked like.
I love how the color ended up concentrated in one area.

The castle stuck around for 2 to 2 and a half days before completely melting away. If your weather stayed colder, then that wouldn't be an issue. Just make sure to build it somewhere where it won't be in the way all winter!

Happy building!


Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Wrench Rolls!

Hold onto your hats, friends, this is a loooooong post!

I made wrench rolls for my husband for Christmas. I am very pleased with them and they seem to be working well for my husband, so I thought I would share how I put them together.

A few pictures of the finished product to help you understand what we're working with...

I started off by measuring my husband's existing plastic, flimsy wrench rolls and cutting up some old jeans into the sizes I needed. These weren't perfect by any means, I definitely made some adjustments to them as I worked with them. Every set of wrenches is slightly different, so you will need to start from an existing holder. Sorry.
First, I sewed up my binding. There are lots of great tutorials out there, on this, but since we don't need very much, I just sewed my few pieces together rather than doing a fancy method.
I ironed the raw edges under and pinned it down to stitch it. I did the pockets' binding first, pinned the pocket to the main piece of fabric, and then prepared to stitch the binding and the pocket on at the same time.
After doing the pockets' binding, I realized that it was easiest to align the binding as I went since I was just doing the first side.
Then I flipped the binding over to the other side and pinned it down all around. I did do mitered corners on this project, but I'm really bad at them, so I'm not going to show those off. ;)
Yes, the stitching from attaching the second side of binding does show on the other side, but it looked nice enough to me that I left it. You can always use a bobbin thread that blends in with your fabric if you want to hide it better.
Now that you have the pocket and binding attached, it's time to sew the individual pockets for the wrenches. I measured the individual pockets and wrote down each size. As you will see later, I ended up with an extra pocket at the end of each roll--better too much fabric than too little! I also found that the fabric stretches a bit, so making the pockets a bit smaller (up to 1/4 inch) than the original holder's pocket size worked well.
I used my little hem ruler to set the distance of my quilting guide bar from the needle. If you don't have a quilting guide bar, then drawing the lines on your fabric with fabric chalk or a disappearing ink would work (possibly better, actually).
Stitch those lines--I did from the lower edge of the binding of the top of the pocket into the binding at the bottom of the roll. Do what you like.
Almost done! Make a tie from matching fabric, I just folded the binding over and sewed it up. I kind of guessed at the length, but they're nice and long, probably about 40 inches total, if not more (no, I didn't measure).
Now, if you don't want to label the pockets, roll it up and you're done!
But, if you want to add labels to each pocket, read on... Copy all the numbers you need and type them up. Mess with your font size until you're sure all the numbers will fit on the pockets. I had to print 3 or 4 versions of my numbers until I got it right. Once you have the right size, then you can print directly onto some freezer paper (the dull side!) if your printer will let you or you can just lay the paper under your freezer paper as a guide. Cut it all out with an X-acto knife. Yes, this is a big pain. Iron on your number stencils and you're ready to paint.
These fractions were a pain and a half to get the sizing right and to cut out...
Up close.
Now, here is where you do what I say and not what I did. I just went ahead and painted on my white paint, forgetting that the first layer of paint tends to soak into the fabric. So I ended up with something like this.
I had to go back with a dark paint and touch up every number so that they were readable.
INSTEAD, start with a paint that blends in, like black in this case.
Let the first layer dry well so that there's no mixing of colors and then paint your contrasting color over top. You might need to do two layers, but I didn't.
It came out MUCH better that way.
Once all your paint is well-dried, heat set the paint according to the paint's instructions. Mine call for ironing on a hot setting with a cloth over the paint.
Wrap them up, tie, and you're all done!