Friday, January 20, 2012

Snow Day- Soap Ball Animals

We have been stuck inside during a snow storm for days. We were all very close to killing each other when I devised a plan. Craft time. What shall we do? Lets make the soap ball animals that I had intended to make for Christmas and never got around to! 

What you need:
4 bars of soap
5-8 tiny plastic toys
Large bowl
1/5 cup water

Begin with a few bars of soap. I used 4 bars of Pomegranate/ Mango Softsoap. When I found the original idea of this project, they had used white soap so it would look like snow. I decided on pink because, well, everything is better in pink in my opinion.

Step 1:
Grate up the bars of soap. If you have a food processor, you should be able to use that to make the process much easier.. Mine, unfortunately would not work for me this morning.

Step 2:
Pour all your soap curls into a big bowl.

Step 3:
Slowly add lukewarm water. I used 4 bars of soap and added about 1/2 cup of water. 
Add a little at a time, and mix with your hands until you get a clay-like substance.
Remember, you can always add more water if it starts to dry out.

You can use pretty much any little plastic thing you want for the center of your soap ball. I used these tiny plastic animals. I found the whole lot of them at Fred Meyer for about $1.

Step 4:
Ball up some soap in your hand, poke a deep whole, and insert the toy. Cover the rest up and shape the soap into a ball, or heart, or triangle... whatever you're little heart desires.

Step 5:
It is extremely important to have a professional helper close at hand. Here is Mila oh-so-efficiently stuffing a plastic tiger into a "ball".

Step 6:
Be as cute as possible

Step 7:
Set your finished product on a cookie sheet to dry. They need to dry completely before use or they may crumble.

(Tip: If you aren't happy with the lumpy texture you might first end up with, dip your ball in water and try to smooth out and shape the surface.)

Our snow day craft session was a success! And the best part- cleaning up was a breeze! We ended up cleaner than we were to begin with. And the house smells fabulous! I really recommend this scent and brand of soap. Delicious!! It was so delicious in fact, my brother came upstairs in the middle of our project, took one sniff, and proceeded to sneak a little bite of the pink soap shavings. His face was pretty priceless!
The one complaint I have about this project is that now I have to find another activity to keep us occupied today! It was super quick, taking around 15-20 mins from start to finish. Fun!

Monday, January 16, 2012

Turn an Ugly Old Dresser Into a Bar or Artistic Focal Point

I am working on turning an ugly old bookshelf into an attractive bar that will make an artistic statement in my otherwise drab dining room. 

Here is what I have so far!
Here it is! I got a creative bug late one night and just couldn't help myself. Might as well flow with it right?

Here it is before
It was just sitting there in the corner looking gloomy, covered in randomness that was not at all appealing to my dining room.

Begin by measuring the length and width of each shelf wall you want to cover.
It is much easier if you have a shelf with removable shelves. If you do, you only have to cut one big piece!

To adhere your material you can use staples, or glue. I used a Beacon's craft glue. 
Dribble some on the shelf wall paying extra attention to the corners and edges.

I did about five inches of glue at a time, carefully laying down the fabric bit by bit.

Here's the shelf after I successfully glued down each piece!
I intentionally left the bottom selves bare. I haven't yet, but I plan on putting a curtain on the lower half. This way I can store some of the less attractive kitchen items that I want to put there. It will also (hopefully) limit the curiosity of my 2 year old.

You could also do this with a bright colored paint or wallpaper. The possibilities are endless!

I feel soooo much better about this piece of furniture being in my life now.
I will post some pictures of it when it is 100% complete, curtain and all. I may also add some paint or studs to the shelf edges to fancy it up a bit. What do you think?

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Storybook land Owl Creature

The Owl I made Tess and Spencer for their new baby human! 
They are having a girl in November and the nursery theme is Owls and cherry blossoms. I am currently unemployed and surrounded by artistic inspiration, so this is what I came up with-
Owlie! The owl creature from storybook land
Owlie is made out fo 90% reclaimed material- mostly old sweaters, tshirts, pants, etc. The pink polka dot and leopard print material and the inside stuffing were the only things new.

Here he is loungin after completion

Some of him was machine sewed while other parts were stitched by hand.
The orange criss cross pattern on his eye mask was done by hand.

Close up of the detail on his knees. Little heart knee pads!
Making Owlie was very enjoyable. I had been working on him for about 2.5 months at my own leisure. I would usually bust him out after putting Mila to bed at night and catching up on episodes of Weeds, True Blood, Breaking Bad, Teen Mom, Jersey Shore, the works.  I feel less guilty about vegging out in front of the tv for hours when I'm getting something accomplished at the same time!
I may have taken pictures of the making of this, but if I did I don't remember, and I'm too lazy to go looking for them now!
I hope Tess, Spencer and their little one enjoy him!

Owl Cake Pops

One of my best friends Tessonja and her boyfriends Spencer are having a baby! I was so thrilled when I found out the news. She is due in just over 2 months now and I can barely contain my excitement. This past Sunday was their baby shower. They had it at the most amazing venue I have ever seen- Storybook Cottages in Olalla, WA. It was magnificent. I would love to take some credit for the day of splendor, since I was part of the party planning group, but all credit has to go to Tess' mom Marie and the venue itself. They provided a caterer- who has created and cooked meals for the Seahawks etc. And also supplied all of the place settings, tables, chairs, and  awesome forest creature centerpieces. Marie made all the alcoholic drinks possible and Did her DJing throughout the party. 
The one thing I DID do tho... Make Owl Cake POPS!!
Here I am going to give you a step by step of how I made them. The Initial Idea I got from the cover of Bakerella's book-
She also offered a quick how-to video for cake pops on amazon. I watched this intently, but she didn't list things like measurements, or WHERE THE HECK to find some of these candy pieces that I needed to decorate an owl pop, specifically.

Since I was working on a Budget and a limited time schedule (having a toddler can make you feel rushed in any situation) I decided to buy boxes of cake, so these would be "easy" to throw together. I went with the kind pictured below 'Pillsbury Moist Supreme' in strawberry flavor. Im not going to lie that I picked this brand because it was the cheapest strawberry that they had- only 96 cents a box! I needed to make 50 cake pops so I doubled up. Each box said it would make 24 cupcakes, so I did the math.
Putting all the cake ingredients in a bowl- cake mix, eggs, and vegetable oil.
mix, mix, mix
                                            Pour the cake into cake pans and bake as usual. 
While the cake was in the oven, I scavenged through Brians computer closet and found this nice piece of styrofoam. I made little equaly spaced marker marks for where to place each of my 50 sticks.
My marked styrofoam

After the cake is baked and then cooled, all you have to do is crumble it up into a giant bowl. I did one cake at a time for this since I didn't want to be overloaded or mess up on something. Next, add about 2 heaping tablespoons of frosting then mix all together until the cake is moist and you can form it into balls- not too sticky or too crumby- it has to be a perfect medium.

Then take wads of your cake- its basically like playdough or clay at this point- and make balls! For the owls I made mine a bit more triangular. Then place on a cookie sheet and cool in the refrigerator for 15 mins.
Here are my cooling pre-owls
 The next step is to melt your bakers chocolate as directed. I used Wilton Candy Melts. I like these because you can melt and remelt as often as you like. So I didn't have to worry about dipping everything before it hardened. First thing you want to do is dip the tip of the stick into the chocolate. Then insert into your cake about halfway through. I think this step helps the cake stick to the stick.

dip and poke

See how it should look
 Next apply 2 chocolate chips as ears- you could use nuts or butterscotch chips, whatever floats your boat.
apply ears with a dab of the melted chocolate

Stab stick directly into the styrofoam so it can set
 The next step was a tedious one. I wanted as many owls as possible to have orange feet. So here I am sorting through a container of flower shaped sprinkles and picking out the orange ones. I used again, the cheapest brand of sprinkles I could find.
And then I sorted through a bag of Reeses Pieces for all the brown pieces to use as wings. I wanted to have all my bits sorted and together so when it came down to decorating each owl, their parts where ready to go.

I had to eat at least a handful of these along the way

Here are all my pops- eared, speared and waiting for their dip!
The previous day is when I did all of my shopping. I went to Walmart and Joanne Fabrics and STILL couldnt find any candy that resembled owl eyes. Finally I went to the dollar store to look for candy necklaces and viola. Not exactly what I wanted, but they work just the same.

Candy bracelets- they came in a bag with individually wrapped bracelets, rings, and candy lipsticks.
Dipping was probably the most difficult of the entire cake pop making process. In the video, Bakerella shows that she simply taps of the excess chocolate. When I did this I was left with uber globby, soggy owl faces. So Instead I used a chop stick to kind of scrape away the extra chocolate. Not too much that I was left with cake showing through, but just enough to when I put the faces on they didn't instantly melt off.

First dipped and decorated!
Let the owl dry for a few seconds before standing upright in the styrofoam. Some of my owl faces dripped off because I was too impatient! Another way to do this would be to dip all of the owls and let them dry first, THEN apply all of their facial features with a dab of melted chocolate. I felt like this would take more time in this already time consuming process so I cheated.

Only halfway finished. About to go insane.
I don't know if I mentioned this- but these guys are TIME CONSUMING!! Luckily Mila was miraculously napping for most of the time and Brian was home to entertain her when she wasn't.

I had a few casualties along the way. Be careful not to put the stick too close to either edge! 

I made a couple extra balls just in case! So in the end of it all I ended up with 49 complete owl pops. (I had 3 break during their chocolate baths!)

In the words of Mila "TADDAAA!!!" My owl pops were complete!! FINALLY!- Now off to the babyshower
For the decorative base I used tissue paper and a big sparkly ribbon to hold it all together.
I nested the owls on pink and opal decorative bead strands.

The Venue- Storybook cottages in Olalla, WA
 The Cake pops made the 40 min drive to Olalla in the heat! We made sure to keep the air conditioner on and stop in the shade as much as possible.
It was a costume party! Here I am in my last min- thrown together costume. I suppose I am a disco tea party bird.

Owl pops are served!

Tara and Alicia taking a bite


Here's what they look like after a bite is taken out of them.

Leif enjoys an owl pop

Tessonja aka Mom to be enjoys an owl pop

Congratulations Spencer and Tess! You will both make fabulous parents!
And that was that. The owl pops were a hit and the party was absolutely fabulous. I cant say if I will be making cake pops again any time soon, but If I do, at least I know the tricks now. Enjoy your own cake pop making ventures everyone!

Friday, August 5, 2011

Stepping Stones

Little Dancer Photo Garden Stepping Stone
Here's a few I found online this morning
For example

Crafty Ladies Garden Stepping Stone 1
Pink Handprint Garden Stepping Stone

While searching the internet for ideas of what my toddler could possibly make her grandma (AVA) for her bday, I randomly came up with the BEST idea. Granted it has nothing to do with a present for my mom, BUT it is even better. Stepping Stones. On Mila's second birthday I will have her create a stepping stone. Adding hand prints, jewels, a small toy of sorts that signifies her at this age, etc. THEN, every year on her bday (or perhaps every other year) I will have her make a new stepping stone. Over the years the path will grow and grow, until one day, she will have an artful piece of her past, mapping out every step of the way. How ingenious am I?! It could be that I haven't had my first cup of morning coffee yet, but I think its a simply divine plan.