Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Tuesday's Art Adventure: Toad Houses

I don't know that this really counts as art, (unless we are looking at this from the whole art for life's sake instead of art for art's sake viewpoint) but it does involve paint and it's a good summer project.

If you have a garden, you want to encourage toads to call your yard home -- they eat slugs.

Toad Houses
  • small terracotta pots
  • tape
  • hammer
  • epoxy (you may or may not need it)
  • acrylic paint
  • brushes

If you already have a pot with a chip in it about the size of a silver dollar, then you can skip this first part. 

If your pot is in one piece then you need to make an opening.

To prevent the crack from spreading too far, I taped where I wanted the opening to be.

Cracked it with the hammer,

and yelled Doh! when the tape didn't really work as well as I hoped.

Then I used the epoxy to glue the pieces back together minus the opening.

Once the epoxy was dry, I handed them over to the boys to paint. Acrylic will stain clothes and stick to just about everything. Cover your work space, wear smocks or old clothes, and don't let the paint dry in the brushes. But you need acrylic so that the paint stays permanently. Just hover, and watch out. :)

Have them either paint it to look like a house, or just slather the paint on. Whatever they most enjoy.

Once the paint is dry, take them out and bury the edge just a little in the dirt and place a rock on top to help keep the pot in place.

Toads will prefer a shaded and protected place.

Enjoy keeping an eye out for any toad friends that move in to their new homes.

This post may be linked at the following parties (for their Blog Buttons see my Link Love page): (M) Mad Skills (T) Stories of A to Z, The Blackberry Vine, How To's Day (W) Whassup Wednesday, Blue Cricket Design, Beyond the Picket Fence (Th) Creative Juice, Somewhat Simple, Thrifty 101, Smilemonsters (F) Fingerprints on the Fridge, Furniture Feature Friday, SevenThirtyThree (Sat) Tatertots and Jello (Sun) Creative Blog & Hop

Monday, May 30, 2011

Jumpin' on the Subway (art)

I couldn't make up my mind about all the Subway Art out there at first, but I think I like it. So, I decided to try my hand at it for Father's Day.

At first I thought it would also be good for some more art around the house, but I think Mateo should take it to work. His office needs some verve.

Here's my attempt:

Ignore the line under race car; I fixed that after I screen shot it for this.

So many I saw available to download were really great, but they seemed to relate more to older kids. I tried to think about things that fit more for our young boys.

The image is 6 x 6 in. And I'm framing it in a 12 x 12 in. frame matted to 8 x 8 in.

On the matte I'm printing the year and then having my boys sign the matte on either side of the date.

Perhaps you will go out and make your own? Or you can have this PDF for free. Just send me an email and I'll send it to you.

P.S. Mateo already knows; we just showed him a bit early this year. He loved it. :)

Saturday, May 28, 2011


"Success! Success! They've done it! They've done it!" Know that movie? No? Perhaps you are lucky. That is from the original Batman Movie with Adam West and all its campy glory.

I have a movie quote for almost anything.
We finally finished the sunken sandbox. I am totally in love and the boys hopped in immediately and have been there ever since. Bliss all around.

It started awhile back. We had the idea, actually I think Matt's mom suggested it, to have a large sandbox sunk into the ground. To do it, we would use a kiddie pool. We bought the pool last summer.

We started digging the hole in April.
The boys were most helpful.

Then we had rain. And then we had rain. And then, well, you get the idea. Between rain and other things in life, not much was happening.
Poor sad little sandbox.

But this weekend we finally got 'er done!
Even our neighbor hopped in for the fun right away. :)

We still have a long way to go for the overall yard,
but this is worth hours of entertainment. 
Woo Hoo!

(In case you want to know, we added 400 lbs. of play sand and are just short of halfway full. We are probably going to add 200 lbs. more. We don't want more than half full because we are trying to keep most of the sand in the box.)

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

A Turtle Could Run Faster...

It's been a trying time around here. Have you noticed the abundance of home diy posts? No? Me neither.

We are crawling along at a turtle's pace. Partly because we got to a point where so many things need Mateo's help or at least time sans children, and Mateo keeps going to work. The nerve! Bringing home the bacon and all. :) I jest! Of course we are grateful for his wonderful job, but it's been difficult to get things done.

I had planned to power through the stairs myself. But there was peel and stick tile on top of plywood on top of two layers of tile. Really? I can't pry the plywood off myself. Wimpy, I realize, but true.

Slow progress on the stairs.

We have made some progress on the side of the house though. Here's a during picture.

I forgot before. But it was just covered in dead needles and randomness. The tree was much in need of trimming.

So much better now.

We have a few ferns that are growing in now and we would like to just let the area fill in with ferns or other shade loving plants. We also still need to put the fence on that side of the garage. (Which will hide the neighbor's falling fence.)

Here's next to the house. See all those clouds? That's contributing to the slow going.

We started pulling out the grass and mulching. 
Still need to work on the back section, and fix up where some grass made it back through on the front section. We would like to add bushes and other plants along the side, so it won't just be mulch in the end. 

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Tuesday's Art Adventure: Sugar Chalk Drawing

Drawing with chalk on paper is just fun. I don't know why, but I love it. Kids love it. I wouldn't be surprised if you did too.

But, I bet what you don't like is that it always stays messy. If you ever touch it again it smears. Well, there is a way to fix that.

To make the chalk set so it no longer smears, first soak the chalk in sugar water. Seriously. You can run your finger over it and it won't smudge. (Within reason, you could make it smudge if you tried hard enough of course.)

Sugar Chalk Drawing

  • water
  • sugar
  • chalk
  • construction paper

Fill a small bowl with water and dissolve a tablespoon or two into the water. Don't fret too much about measurements; just make sure your sugar dissolves in the water.

Add the chalk (and enjoy the fizzy sound it makes) and let soak for 10-30 minutes. I think I did 15. Just make it fit the time you have, but it doesn't have to take long.

After the soak, let the chalk sit out to dry. You can either wait for it to completely dry or use it when it's still a bit wet. Either way.

I like to use colored construction paper because the color of the chalk really pops on the construction paper, and let's face it, crayons and markers just don't.

Here's goofball numero dos showing off his picture:
And numero uno:

He added a story to his. :)
This is really fun, and so easy! Chances are you already have the supplies on hand so get creating!

This post may be linked at the following parties (for their Blog Buttons see my Link Love page): (M) Mad Skills (T) Stories of A to Z, The Blackberry Vine, How To's Day (W) Whassup Wednesday, Blue Cricket Design, Beyond the Picket Fence (Th) Creative Juice, Somewhat Simple, Thrifty 101 (F) Fingerprints on the Fridge, Furniture Feature Friday (Sat) Tatertots and Jello (Sun) Creative Blog & Hop

Monday, May 23, 2011


 I thought about waiting for some big milestone to host a giveaway of some type, but I figure why not be different? 
I've spent the last few hours thinking about how stuff is just stuff and how we hold on to things we don't need. (Even though sometimes it's devastating to lose something.)
I used to live in Joplin, MO. In fact, some of those pictures of complete devastation - well, that's what my old neighborhood looks like. Friends of ours have lost everything and we are just so thankful that they are alive and not hurt. Please consider donating to Red Cross, who is there now, or other disaster relief agencies, who are working across the globe, to help those in need.

So, why hold on to stuff that I don't need that could help someone else? There was a bit of excitement over the Millenium Falcon cake (read this post for the tutorial):
So, I am going to giveaway my Millenium Falcon cake stand,
and I'll include all the food labels like these:

The complete set includes: Yoda Soda, Wookie Cookies, Corscantwiches, Space Mix, Help Free Han Solo from Carbonite, and Millenium Falcon Cake with Darth Malt Ice Cream.

To win is easy. First, make sure you are a follower of the blog. And then, leave a comment on this post. Optional, tell me if you have plans to use it soon or if you just want to be prepared. :) Comment by Friday noon eastern time and I will pick a random winner.
The winner will be announced on Friday night.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Recycling shelf

Well, in this post I talked about how this area was just a pass-by of a space, 
but I wanted to spruce a bit. Spruce is a fun word to say. Spruce.

Anyway. I wanted to address the recycling. We have a detached garage. Also our community collects the recycling once a month and therefore, supplied us with a gigantor 96-gallon bin. It's great, but between the size and the detached garage, I can't have it anywhere near the kitchen. We also have to do can and bottle deposits here, so I have a second trash can in the kitchen to collect those, so no real space left for a small bin in the kitchen. 

I am all about recycling, but the truth is, it means you have to keep trash around your house longer. Stuff kept piling up on the counters until we remembered to cart it outside and it was driving me nuts. I want to save the planet, but I also wanted a little bit of convenience too!

So, I decided I needed a shelf. We had this board that was salvaged from a former rental.
We asked the landlord what it was and he told us it was "just junk." We could have it if we wanted.

There is an argument to made that it was indeed "just junk" but there was something about it. So we kept it.

We had to trim it a bit to make it fit. And I gave it good scrub with some Murphey's.
We bought the brackets at Home Depot for $10. 
Originally I wanted wood or something chunkier, but I couldn't find it and I didn't want to go to a billion stores looking. I'm a terrible shopper. But these worked out. I like the contrast of the modern metal with the aged, beat up wood. And having smaller brackets works better in the small space.

Now, we can stack the stuff up off to the side and keep the counters uncluttered.
I only had a little wire basket. I would like to find a bigger one, but I think it will help corral the recyables.
I'm not over the moon on this one, but I think it's going to be so useful. I don't know. What do you think?

Check out the giveaway on this post.

This post may be linked at the following parties (for their Blog Buttons see my Link Love page): (M) Mad Skills (T) Stories of A to Z, The Blackberry Vine, How To's Day (W) Whassup Wednesday, Blue Cricket Design, Beyond the Picket Fence (Th) Creative Juice, Somewhat Simple, Thrifty 101 (F) Fingerprints on the Fridge, Furniture Feature Friday (Sat) Tatertots and Jello (Sun) Creative Blog & Hop

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

A little somethin' somethin'

Here's a bit of wall between the back kitchen entrance and where the counter begins. 

Below the clock and calendar sit the trash can and recycling bin. So, while this space doesn't really need anything since it's just a pass-by, I just felt like it needed something.

I decided the problem was the calender just looked a little woh-woh. (I hate trying to spell sounds!) Just so small hanging there.
So, I went through my fabric and papers and found this paper to use:

And I pulled out this frame:

If you are in a pinch, you can make this easy. I needed art asap many years ago. I pulled the flowers off silk flower stems and glued them to the paper, drew the stems and framed it. Presto. But I've never loved this, so I pulled this out of storage just to take the frame.

I took the old art out and took the plexiglass off since I didn't need it. And just used the cardboard backing.
I trimmed the papers and used spray adhesive to attach them to the cardboard. Then I put it back in the frame.

The glue wasn't totally dry when I snapped this. What can I say? I'm impatient.

I took a push pin, I had to trim the post a bit with wire cutters, and hot glued it to the paper covered board. And hung the calendar.



Just a little somethin' somethin', but I think it does the trick.

For me, this was absolutely free which is so awesome! But it would be pretty affordable even if you started from scratch.

{Update: The push pin wasn't as sturdy as I liked, so I replaced it by gluing a binder clip there and then clipping the calendar's hanger in the binder clip. It's much better. I also addressed the space below all this, check out this post to see.}

This post may be linked at the following parties (for their Blog Buttons see my Link Love page): (M) Mad Skills (T) Stories of A to Z, The Blackberry Vine, How To's Day (W) Whassup Wednesday, Blue Cricket Design, Beyond the Picket Fence (Th) Creative Juice, Somewhat Simple, Thrifty 101 (F) Fingerprints on the Fridge, Furniture Feature Friday (Sat) Tatertots and Jello (Sun) Creative Blog & Hop

Tuesday's Art Adventure: Salt and Paint

There are all sorts fun things you can do with paint besides just painting. Because kids are naturally curious and love to explore what happens, this type of project is great for all ages.

Salt and Paint
Explore the effects of salt on paint.


  • watercolor paints (just the cheap kids kind are great)
  • brushes
  • paper
  • salt (any kind,table, kosher, rock, etc. you can even try a variety)

Work bit by bit. Paint a part of your painting

and while the paint is still wet, sprinkle with salt.

Experiment with using a little or a lot of salt. 

That's all there is to it. Keep adding paint and salt until you are satisfied. 

Leave the salt in place as it dries.
You can see how the paint pulls away from the salt.

When the painting is dry, gently brush the salt away and admire the effects. 

If your salt is stubborn, use a stiff, clean brush or even just the side of a spoon and scrap the salt off.

In the upper right corner, Chi loaded it with salt which also had a nice effect.

My kids just painted abstracts, but here's an example of mine. A close picture so you can see where I used salt in the blue paint to make it look more like water.