Thursday, December 20, 2012

Teacher Presents

Tap. Tap. Tap. Is this thing on?
Awesome. It's great to be back. :)

So, I realize this is much too late for this year, but given the wonderfulness that is Pinterest, I figure this is something that you can pin for next year.

I don't know about you, but teacher gifts for my kids are a bit tricky. Between the two of them I needed 9 gifts. Yeow-zah! Each December the blogosphere erupts with former teachers pleading for us to think past cookies, candies, and candles. I appreciate the sentiment, but when you have 9 gifts to buy, gift cards start to get super pricey!

So, I conducted a super un-scientific poll of my teacher friends (of which I have a lot actually) on facebook. They unanimously approved this gift idea. (We've been doing this several years, and Gabe's teachers are either excellent liars or they really love this.)

Each year we bake bread. It gets away from the sweet treats and is more versatile, we think. We always make a mini french baguette and a mini loaf of quick bread. We change that one up with things such as strawberry bread, pumpkin bread, coconut lime banana bread...

The quick bread is left in a disposable mini loaf pan and wrapped in plastic wrap.

The baguettes are wrapped in tissue paper. Do NOT - I repeat - Do Not wrap good baguettes in plastic or you will ruin the texture.

Then I use a tea towel. I just grab these at the Dollar Store or on a clearance sale.

I lay out the towel, place the breads together and wrap the towel around.

Then I tie it together with ribbon. I also slide a homemade tag on the ribbon which has holiday wishes and a little info about the breads, and of course, who it is from.

Teachers love anything your child brings. It really is the thought that counts. And, just a teeny bit of effort on the presentation makes the gift seem extra-special.       

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Closet to "Mudroom" Transformation

I've mentioned before how much I hate our front entry and closet. The space is just too small to work properly - that and the closet door opened into the room further bottle necking traffic.
Could have sworn I had a better picture. I'm standing in the front door frame to take this and there is no space to the left. The closet door opened to the right into what is the size of a doorway leading into the living room.

Well, we solved that problem. Awhile back when Beth at Home Stories A to Z was talking mudrooms, I told her my dream was to turn my closet into a a pseudo-mudroom, and I finally did it!

First we took the bi-fold door off and removed the track. Easy peasy. We knocked the shelf out and removed the hanging rod.

The inside was painted to match the rest of the room and the holes left by the rod where patched and sanded. 
Bad pictures! Sorry.

Mateo used scrap wood cut to fit the holes and then some putty and sanding to smooth it out.

The harder part was the bench. The back of the closet near the floor is angled because it sits over the stairs to the basement. So Matt had to build around that and close it in so it was hidden. He also wanted it to be strong enough to hold the monkey boys who were bound to climb up on it.

Some priming, caulking and painting, and viola! the bench was white. We added five double hooks for hanging coats and whatnot.
The sign was a gift from my parents. It reads: Please excuse our messy house, the kids are making memories.

I'd like to get a different basket, actually, something a bit smaller so I can have two. I'll use those in the winter for mittens and hats and whatever other odds and ends need a home.
The basket is angled and sticks out a bit too much. It's hard to see in the picture.

I did not remove any walls, and yet it feels so much more spacious at the entry. It feels usable now too. The bench can hold purses or other items. Using a hook is so much faster than a hanger, so it should help flow issues.

Color info: The walls are Coventry Gray by Benjamin Moore and the Trim is Mayonnaise by Benjamin Moore (but I actually had that color matched at Home Depot in Behr paint).

Saturday, August 25, 2012

It's Not You; It's Me...

Ever fall out of love with a blog?
Maybe this one, even? Argh! Shhh!
Ah, well. It happens. For me it happens when a blog gets away from why I liked it in the first place. Like maybe it was home improvement, but now it's just filler descriptions of shopping trips. It happens. We all need filler. I'm not judging. I'm just saying, too much and I fall out of love. I'm fickle.

Or maybe it's because there are never new posts. Who would stop having new posts? ;)

So, when you are out of love with your own blog, it's time to have some serious reflection.
What do you think? Serious reflection? I couldn't tell you what he was really doing. :)
Well, maybe not "out of love" because I do actually still like blogging, but going back to school seriously shifted my priorities. Projects are getting so stretched out that it's not nearly as exciting. And posting takes A LOT of time. Time I don't have.

Back when I was going strong, I actually added Art Adventures as filler. My kids love doing projects, and I needed more weekly posts (back when readers were expecting a post a day or at least every other day). I had great plans to do a whole bunch of projects this summer and schedule them throughout the year, but those darn kids have had other ideas. 

Pretty much they just want to paint and do play dough and clay. You all have seen that. I got tired of saying, "Let's do an art project!" And the boys would say, "Yay! Can we paint?" And I'd say, "Well, I really wanted to show you this other project." And the boys would groan. Ah, it warms a mama's heart, that groan. So, I gave up and gave them paint.

It's also been the summer of boring projects. Building shelves for the basement and garage. Replacing the garden path. 

General home maintenance. Lots of Mateo stuff that just has to get done and is not so exciting.

Then, as if nothing else needed to get done, I've been prepping for a solo art exhibit. I have completed 15 large paintings (probably why the boys just want paints this summer, come to think of it) and Matt has had to make all 15 frames (only affordable way to frame 15 paintings). All that ate up a bunch of time.

My dreams of awesome projects and posts slipped away...

So, I know this will disappoint some people, but I will not be doing regular Art Adventures during the school year. Both boys are in school now, and so am I, and that is a lot less time. 

I have a nice archive, and I plan to feature some other projects by some great bloggers to inspire you.

I will post projects as they get done. The kitchen is halfway there. 

The living room is so close! The boys' rooms will be changing this fall. So, stuff will happen and I'll be posting. Just please forgive the sporadic nature of the blog lately. Grad students/mothers/artists are underpaid and overworked! I'm trying! :)

For quick progress up dates with sneak peek photos, follow me on facebook. I also link up new posts, so you know when I actually wrote one. For those of you that have stuck with me and supported me, I just want to say thanks.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Heads Up

For a very long time I have wanted a wooden headboard. And if not wood, I considered natural tones of linen, perhaps tufted.
Sad bed with no headboard. :(

So, I found this

and thought, headboard, of course!

(Actually, I thought pillows, but then soon realized that the colors were brilliant against my wall.)

I figured I'm not out much for trying it. If I don't like it, I can still keep the frame and replace it with linen or something.

Oh, I almost forgot, the fabric. It's actually a tablecloth I found at Marshall's.
Ugh, I hate to iron, but it needed it.

So, Mateo built the frame for the headboard by screwing a 60 x 29 in. piece of plywood to a frame constructed from 2x2's.

I laid out my tablecloth, good side down. Then laid batting on top. Now I got bamboo batting which I thought was cool, but it pulls apart too easily. Like it started shredding as I tried to unroll it. It was uber soft though and would make great fill.

Once that was laid out, I centered my wood frame and then it was time to break out the staple gun.

I pulled it really tight and then stapled on the back of the frame. 

I did this all the way around, treating the corners like I would gift wrap.

Mateo hung another 2x2 on the wall as a cleat and then we hung the headboard.
Dresser on the left is Matt's, and that is relatively clean for him. :)

It is a lot of pattern for someone who originally wanted a neutral headboard, but I am really loving it. It looks great with the wall color!

 A little before action there; and then after...

I think I'm going to change the pillow cases to something that pops a little more.

Thursday, August 2, 2012


Some things we just can't do ourselves. Like remove a huge spruce tree.
Spruce is in the middle there.

This tree and I were not friends. It was sick so it was dropping needles like crazy and that hurts people who like to run around barefoot. (So, our whole family.) Oh, I was getting so mad at that tree.

One reason we did not rush into removal (besides the cost) was that our dying tree blocked the view of our neighbor's dead tree. But I got so sick of the needles, I just didn't care anymore.
(And in defense of the neighbors, they just bought the house a month ago, and I do not judge them for not immediately cutting it down.)

So, we called a company, and they came out and gave us a great quote and then...never came back to do the job! Grrr. So, serendipitously, another company had left a business card on our door, we called them and they gave us a great quote and bonus: they actually came and did the work!

I meant to document the whole thing, but it was raining and so my pictures are pretty lousy.

One guy limbed the tree as he climbed up all lumberjack-ish. It was pretty impressive, especially considering the rain.
Can you see the guy up there in the rain?

By the time they got to the top the rainstorm and wind were worse and they had to call off for the day. Understandable. I didn't want anybody getting hurt over a tree.

The next day, one guy held the guide rope while the other climbed up and cut the top.
There he goes, back up the tree.

 They worked section by section until it was short enough to fell the whole thing. I missed that because they were freakin' fast!

Then they ground the stump. Grinded the stump? Ground? Whatever. That was also removed.

I had no idea how much brighter that side of our house would be without that tree.

I mean, theoretically I knew it would be, but it was such a huge difference.
This is the view from the back deck, before.
And after.

Woody's was great. I absolutely would recommend them. They were polite, efficient, did the work and cleaned-up the driveway both days.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Sneak Peak

I've been a bit out of sorts this week


Things are happening in the kitchen. That is just the primer. Big excitement!

Art Adventure: Air-Dry Clay Completed

I'm such a dork. With summer and all, I haven't been keeping track of days very carefully. I didn't realize until today, that I had missed Tuesday. /Facepalm/

So, last Tuesday I showed you our progress with Crayola Air-Dry Clay.

Gabe made a cave which has gems lodged in the sides.

Chi made a rock.

Kind of makes me giggle. A rock.

I had the boys use their tempera paints.

 I was surprised by how much the paint soaked in. You can see the paint colors appear pretty light.

 I suppose acrylic might work better, but that's also more stressful since it's permanent (I mean on clothes, my table, etc.). Chi kept rinsing his brush and adding more and more water into the mix so his clay was starting to soften. So, the air-dry is not as permanent as they claim. Basically it seems like bone dry regular clay when it's dry.

If you have access to regular clay, then there is no reason to buy this stuff. If you don't though, the Crayola clay is available practically everywhere. It was easier for them than Scupley clay though. And the small container has enough clay for four small projects.

Tip for painting: no need for a paint palette. Just use a piece of aluminum foil. The paint doesn't soak in, like if you used a piece of paper, and it's super easy to clean up, just crumple and recycle.  

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Art Adventure: Air-Dry Clay

My kids have been asking for Crayola's Air-Dry Clay for awhile now.

I decided to give it a whirl.

We don't have a completed project to show you because I did not realize the dry time would be 2-3 days. It's fine, but I should have planned ahead better. :)

They are enjoying moulding the clay as we speak. I would criticize that it is actually a little stickier than expected. A canvas pad for the table would do wonders.

But, it is definitely soft enough for young and weak hands.

After it dries we plan to paint them. I'll give you a full report next week. Have you tried the Air-Dry clay yet? What did you think?

Just to be clear, I'm just sharing a product that might inspire your kids to get crafty. I am not paid or perked by Crayola in any way. Paid full price for my own tub of clay. Crayola has no idea who I am.