Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Try it Tuesday - handprint tree

Okay, so I know I posted on Facebook that I had a new pattern coming for you this week but there was a minor mishap and that may be postponed. I had it all worked up but the top/closing section and had set it down in my usual project storage space (read on the floor between my chair and Mr. Sunflowers chair). Then it happened.....

Mr. Sunflower and Princess A were having a tickle fight in his chair. Princess A had her trusty blanky with her and it went flying through the air onto our side table where my ever present iced tea was minding its own business. The blanket picked a fight with the tea and the tea dove off the table to escape the attack. Unfortunately at the bottom of the dive was the entire skein of white yarn and poor Tommy Tooth in his final stages of birthing!

The yarn was successfully rescued with no ill effects, however it is currently recovering (meaning it was rinsed thoroughly and all the tea was removed with no signs of staining but it is still wet and airing out.) Tommy however, was not so lucky and at 7:59 pm he gave up his life due to injuries beyond this persons capability to repair.

The good news is that he had a brother. His brother is a bit shy but he will hopefully make an appearance by the end of the week. In the mean time I wanted to give you some inspiration.

I come across so MANY wonderful ideas while browsing the internet and my bookmark list is full of projects I want to make. I decided it was time to start moving them from my want to list to my the have made list and to bring you along on the journey. This week I made a project that was featured on At Second Street here.

I was really excited about this one and when I saw it I had to go to Hobby Lobby to get some burlap. I just knew I had brown and green material at home in my stash and I already had an 8X10 canvas I picked up at Big Lots. I got home, kidnapped Mr. Sunflowers staple gun and stapled the burlap to the canvas. Then I taught Princess A how to trace her hand, which let me tell you she thought that was the neatest thing ever! I think I ended up with about 50 hand tracings before she finally became disinterested and wandered off to play with some homemade playdough and her cookie cutters.

Then I raided my material stash, found what was left of my brown material from some turkey table decorations I made here. And a few years back I made a wall hanging using some green fat quarters and I was sure that I had some material left. Problem was that my yarn stash didn't yield any leaving me greenless! Booo! So I headed to the closest store that might be useful. You know, the one with a big yellow smiley face as their logo. Now mine doesn't carry fabric so this was going to be interesting. I did find two bandanas, one entirely green and the other was blue on one end fading to green then yellow on the other. These became my leaves.

And here is the final project:

Until next time,

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Pot of Gold

I know it is a bit late for St. Paddy's crafts but I really wanted to share these cute little table decorations that I made for the tables at church.  The little leprechauns are from Wee Folk Art and the directions can be found here.  When I first saw them I knew I had to make them.  I had a set sitting on my hall shelf as my March decorations and started thinking that they were missing something.

Then I saw this post over on Canadian Living and something in my head clicked and these little pots of gold were born.  While they are really rather simple to make I thought I would share the directions with you. 

You will need:
a rainbow pack of Chenille Stems,
baby storage cups (I got these at the Dollar Tree but any 1/2 cup storage container in the right shape will work,
cotton balls,
black paint
cardstock (not shown)
paintbrush (not shown)

First toss all the lids into the junk drawer to be raided later for a recycle craft, you don't need them for this project.  Paint the outsides of each container with the black paint.  I know the picture shows the rims painted on the inside but I discovered that it really wasn't necessary.  Allow them to dry and then add a second coat of paint.

(Yes that is a plastic bag under my painted cups.  Didn't want to move the tablecloth or paint it so I used what I had on hand as a drop cloth!)
If you want a shiny pot I would suggest adding a coat of clear spray paint after the black has dried.  This may help prevent scratches appearing on the paint also.  That is just a guess but it sounds good right?!

Once you pots have dried, or even while you are waiting for them to dry if you are in impatient crafter like I am, go turn on your glue gun and grab your chenille stems.  You want to line up your stems so that they are even and they are in the correct color order (cuz mine are NOT in the correct order in the pictures.  Fortunately no on noticed and I am not telling them!).  The correct order is red, orange, yellow, green, blue, violet/purple.  Also cut a cloud shape out of your cardstock.  You want it to be about 1 1/2 -2 inches across but you can really just eyeball it.
Next you are going to pinch the ends together so that they are flat but really tight.

Finally run a bead of glue across this and hold until the glue sets.  To be honest, I usually wet my finger and kind of smoosh the glue down to get better adhesion here.

No flip it over and run some glue along the back side as well to doubly secure the stems.  Repeat for the other end of the stems.

Now, here is the bad news.  H arrived home from school about this time, Princess A awoke from her nap and I had to venture out to pick up Little Man J from school as well as help with homework, start dinner etc.  I tell you this so that you will hopefully understand when I tell you that I had procrastinated on this project and I had to complete it THAT DAY so the rest of the steps were done in the midst of controlled chaos and the camera didn't come out of hiding so I have no more pics.  Even the completed project pics were taken with my phone since I rushed out and forgot my camera when I went to decorate!  Hope you guys have a good imagination for the final couple of steps.  They aren't really hard, so I am sure you can figure it out!

Okay, without bending the stems, find the middle and cut across all the colors of the rainbow so that you now have two six inch rainbow pieces.  I laid them on the counter and gently curved the stems.  Hold in place without pinching tightly and again glue the stems together on both sides.  Your chenille ends will not be a straight line, think more of an angled line with the bottom stem being longer than the top.  You don't need to be neat with the glue on this end since we are going to hide it in the cloud.

Once the glue is dry, stretch out a cotton ball until it is fluffy and glue to one side of your cardstock cloud being sure to cover all of the paper.  It is okay for you cotton to extend past the paper.  Put this side down on the counter.  Place your slanted end of the rainbow on your cloud and glue it in place.  Again fluff a cotton ball and now glue this one over the rainbow and cover the cardstock.  

The final step is to take the unfinished end of the rainbow and hot glue it to the inside of your painted pot.  Taadaaa!

Your pot will be top heavy and won't stand up on it's own.  To fix mine I took some found rocks, painted them gold and hot glued enough into the bottom of the pot to hold it up.  I did this because I wanted the pots of gold to remain standing after the kids at church raided the gold candies so that the grown ups could at least see them!  

On a side note, I wanted to show you my very first leprechauns that I made
I didn't realize that there was a difference between people turnings and Doll Pins  These are made from doll pins that I ended up cutting down to size.  I had to adjust the pattern widths quite a bit, but I still think they turned out cute.  Besides, I am sure leprechauns come in all shapes and sizes despite being magical creatures!

Until next time,

Tip Junkie handmade projects

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Keys of the Kingdom Review & giveaway!


Have you heard of this game before?  I hadn't, at least not until Left Behind Games sent me a copy to review.  Let me fill you in...

While shopping at my local Family Christian Bookstore I noticed a Charlie Church Mouse Bible Adventure game for kindergarten.  (Think Reader Rabbit with a good Christian theme)  I grabbed it thinking it would be a great game for Princess A who has recently taken an interest in the computer.  I knew it would be advanced for her but I figured we could play it together.  After playing a few times I looked up Left Behind Games and discovered that they also offer Preschool:Charlie Church Mouse.  So I emailed the company and explained what had happened.  I offered to review the preschool edition in exchange for the program.  They agreed and asked if I would be interested in reviewing other titles also.  Of course I agreed. 

Fast forward a couple of weeks and here I am telling you about Keys of the Kingdom.  This at first appears to be a very simplistic game.  The object, move the key box and the lock box until they meet.  As you progress it gets more and more difficult. Boxes are placed in your path that you must eliminate by touching it with another block of the same color. Sometimes you must move the boxes to create a path that you can manuever. Sometimes cantilevers are involved. What at the beginning seemed overly simple became a task that required planning and forethought.

After you successfully complete this task you are taken to a scroll screen where a Bible verse is printed and is read to you.  Then you move on to the next level. 
Another plus is that on each Bible verse page there is a link that says "know God". When you click this link you are taken to a page (http://www.dontbeleftbehind.com/pages/knowing-god.html) that lists the Four Spiritual Laws from Campus Crusades for Christ.  Basically, God loves you, sin separates you from Him, Christ died so that we can connect with God, and we must choose to receive this gift.  While the explanation may be a bit advanced for younger children, it can open doors for mom and dad to talk to them about God and His Son. 

I began playing one afternoon with H.  Several hours later the entire family was taking turns on levels and offering advice as they got more difficult.  We are now on level 80+ after several days of play and are still enjoying playing it.  The creators were even kind enough to include a link for each level that takes you to a solution page.  (Yes, we have had to use the link on occassion and I promise we are intelligent people!) 

This game is rated E for everyone and I have to say that everyone in my family enjoys it, even Princess A.  Despite the fact that we are at levels to advanced for her to be any help, she still has to chime in when someone moans as they realize they have made an irreversable move and must start over and she rejoices as we complete an especially difficult level.

And the good news for you?  I am offering up a copy of Kindergarten:Charlie Church Mouse to one of my United States readers.  To win you need to leave a comment below.  For an extra entry you can follow this blog (be sure to tell me in a separate comment).  Want even more entries?  Link to my blog on your Facebook or send out some Tweet love.  Be sure to leave separate comments for that as well.  The winner will be chosen by random on April 1st (no April Fool's prank here!)  Check back to see if you have won!

And the winner is.........Lissa who said "This sounds like a wonderful game for my daughter!"

Until next time,

Thursday, March 17, 2011

No Fear

Just wanted to share a project I created almost a year ago for a great youth pastor at church.  He had recently been diagnosed with cancer and was undergoing chemo treatments (Praise God he is currently undergoing his last intracath treatment as I type this and has no cancer cells in his body!)  I wanted to create something that let him know he wasn't alone and this came to mind.  Each of the letters is made up of Bible verses related to the thought that there was no reason to fear because God is with us. 

When I first came up with the idea I didn't realize how time consuming it would be to create this.  I am sure there hs to be an easier way out there but I am pleased with the results and he seemed to be too.  (Of course his version didn't have the Sunflowers at Home going across it!)

Until next time,

Monday, March 14, 2011

Prayer bracelet

Okay, so I am no photographer, but this is my newest crafty project.  The idea has been floating around in my head since a friend at church became ill with cancer.  The church printed up a bunch of those rubber bracelets and handed them out for everyone to wear as a reminder to pray for him.  One side said pray for ______ and the other side had a line from a song.  We wear them with the pray for side out until his cancer is gone and then we turn it over and the line (41 what a beautiful day - a reminder that even though we went through the trial -think 40 days in the desert- we will come out the other side and that it will be wonderful!)  will show reminding us to thank God for what He has done.

That got me thinking about the other people in my life that I want to pray for.  My husband, my kids, friends etc.  I love the idea of a bracelet because I can keep it with me.  Also, when it aggravates me it reminds me of the people and I say a prayer for them.  So this was born.

If you want make one also, here is what you will need:
Polymer Clay in you choice of colors, try to personalize this to the person
AMACO Pasta Machine, this is optional and I didn't use it because I used small amounts of the clay but if your clay is especially hard it will help to soften it for you
AMACO Tri-Bead Roller to roll the beads, or you can roll them in your hands.  The bead roller just makes them uniform
Alphabet Stamps this is optional but if you want to personalize each bead with initials I really recommend using stamps!
jewelry pliers
Eye pins I used a gunmetal color but you can use the color of your choice or make your own eye pins
a clasp for your bracelet
some extra jump rings just in case
piece of cardstock or recycle a cereal box
fine grit sand paper

First condition your clay by either rolling it through the pasta machine 10-15 times or simply squish it in your hand until it softens.  The Tri-bead roller comes with a tool to measure the amount of clay to use so measure your clay or simply eyeball it. Roll out your beads using a single color or mix the colors up.  Then slide your bead onto one of your eye pins being very careful to center the hole on both ends.  Now you can use your alphabet stamp to impress initials into each bead if you want to.

Take your cardstock or the front of a cereal box and fold it accordion style to get two mountain folds and one valley fold.  Place your beads on it like this:

I made a few extra solid black beads in case the bracelet wasn't big enough.  I also made one bead in a rock like color (the grey one looks like granite with the inclusions) and in a different shape than all of the others.  I wanted one to represent God to put in the middle of my bracelet to remind me that He is my rock and that He should be at the center of it all.  Once you have made all of your beads, bake them according to manufacturer's instructions.  I baked mine at 275 degrees for 30 minutes.  Allow them to cool completely.

At this point you can sand off any imperfections.  If desired you can also add a coat of polymer clay glaze to give them a shine.  Slide your bead to the eye side of the pin, trim the pin and create another loop so that there is now a loop on each side of your bead.  Connect the beads using the loops.  Attach your clasp and you are done. 

If you decide to make one I would love to see it!  You can share it on the Sunflowers at Home Flickr group

Until next time,

PS:  The line "41...what a beautiful day" is from this song by the Turn Around, a local band

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Shamrocks - gotta be green

While this may not be the song you think of when you think of St. Patrick's Day, I always think of this song when I think of green.  Poor Kermit, struggling with being different and having to come to terms with it.  What does that have to do with today's post?  Ummmmmm ........ nothing really.  Other than today's project is green.  It's a stretch I know, still, go with it!

So today I have this for you:

You can use it as a fridgie, a pin, a bookmark, whatever you want to.  It uses a minuscule amount of yarn so it is a great scrap project, and it takes about 15 minutes to put together.  Seriously!  You can use what ever yarn you want just adjust your hook size accordingly.

You will need:
 a 3.75-mm Crochet Hooks, Size F

and Red Heart Super Saver Yarn: Paddy Green

a darning needle
a pin back if wanting to turn it into a pin

How to:
using a magic circle as your base then *chain 3, work a triple crochet, half double crochet, triple crochet, ch 3, join to magic circle*.  Repeat between *'s once more.  Chain 6.  Work a double crochet in the 2nd chain from hook, half double crochet in next, single crochet in next, slip stitch in next 2 chains, slip stitch into the magic circle.  Repeat between *'s once.  fasten off.  Tighten magic circle then weave in ends.

That's all there is to it!  Enjoy!
Until next time,

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

people crackers

I know, what a yuck title, but I couldn't figure out what else to call them.  Little crackers that are shaped like people but taste like those fish that are orange and made by some farm and comes in little packages like this:
While others find that they don't taste fishy at all but are more like the square orange crackers that come in a package like this:

And since there is no consensus.......people crackers it is......except all of the ones I made aren't people shaped.  After punching and pushing dough out of what felt like 100 people shaped cookie cutters I was tired of it.  I spent 30 minutes rolling dough and punching shapes.  Seriously not worth the effort in my book.  A few to use as decorations is great but millions of little people crackers?  Huh uhh!  They would start a riot and take over my house or something.  I was having premonitions of doom!  So I began cutting squares, then rectangles, then rhombuses with wavy sides.  (What is a rhombus you ask?  It is a quadrilateral with four equal sides.....or simply put a squashed square!  I know you are asking because my brain drew a geometry blank as I tried to figure out what the name was and I had to google it for you!)  So they aren't all people crackers, just some, maybe 1/4 of them.

Still, they are yummy and I wanted to share with you!

You will need:

1 cup wheat flour ( you can use all purpose if you want to for a lighter colored cracker)
3/4 tsp salt
4 Tbsp unsalted butter that is cold and cut into small cubes
pepper to taste
4 Tbsp water
2 cups shredded cheese of your choice

Mix the flour salt and pepper.  Using a pastry cutter or two knives cut butter into the flour mixture until it resembles fine crumbs.  Cut cheese into mixture a little at a time.  Once mixed, begin adding water one tablespoon at a time and stir until the mixture forms a ball.  Place in a plastic bag and refrigerate for a few hours or up to a day.
Roll dough out onto a floured pastry cloth or board.  (Don't have a pastry cloth?  See my note at the end.)  You want the dough to be thin, about 1/8 to 1/4 inch.  cut out your shapes

and then place them on an ungreased cookie sheet.  Bake at 350 degrees for 10-12 minutes or until golden and crispy. Allow to cool completely before storing in an air tight container.

If you are still here and haven't run off to search for your pastry cutter then you must be looking for my note on a pastry cloth.

Basically,  all a pastry cloth is is a cloth that you use for rolling out pastries.  The flour primarily remains in the cloth so that your dough doesn't get tough but it still keeps the dough from sticking to the surface you are rolling it on.  It also makes it easier to roll our the dough in my opinion since it doesn't stick to the surface.  It also makes clean up LOTS easier.  Simply roll your dough onto the floured cloth.  Once you are done with it gather the corners, shake it off over the garbage can or outside then toss in the washing machine.  No counters with stuck on dough to scrub.

Now for my hint.  While you can go out and buy special cloths for this purpose, you probably already have one in your house.  Go open your linen closet.  Look around.  Do you see the pillow case that no one ever uses because it doesn't match anything or because you just don't like it.  Look again.  It is longing to be your new pastry cloth.  Or if you don't have one of those pillowcases, how about an old sheet that you haven't used in years and looks like it would be at home in a 1970's replica home.  It is begging to have a purpose in your house again.  With a few snips of the scissors you have one for you and several to give as gifts.  You can even get all fancy if you want to and sew a hem in the sides to keep them from unraveling although it really isn't necessary.

So what are you waiting for?  Go to your linen closet, get your pastry cloth and get cooking girlfriend!  These are yummy!

Oh, and if you are still here, there is this awesome thing called a food processor that works great when making this dough.  Just add the flour salt and pepper, pulse, butter, pulse, cheese, pulse, water (a little at a time pulsing after each addition until a ball forms) then follow the rest of the directions.  My food processor is just a baby and couldn't handle all the work so I had to do it the old fashioned way.  

Until next time,

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Great news!

Do you know who this little guy is:

His name is Charlie Church Mouse and he and I have a special surprise for you coming in the next week or so!  I am sooo excited.  He has become a really good friend of Princess A and I can't wait to introduce you to him too so keeps your eyes open and check back to see what is in store!

Until next time,

Thursday, March 3, 2011

How to make your own read along CD

 I loved these as a kid.  Those story books where you popped in the cassette tape and it read the story while you flipped the pages and look at the pictures.  Admit it, you remember them!

Fast forward a few years (okay!  Lots of years!) and here I am with my own kids and a desire to share that memory with them.  Then I look at the prices.  Yikes!

Almost $10 for a book and CD.  I don't know about you but my 2 year old would be really great with the book but tends to scratch or break a CD.  So I got to thinking......

I handle the web design and sermon editing for my church.  Now we aren't one of those big churches.  Just a small group with a very small budget.  So I edit with a free program called Audacity.  It's a great little program that lets you edit, add sound effects and do SO much for free.  Guess what!  It even lets you record your own tracks!

So I pulled out some of Princess A's favorite books, Chicka Chicka Boom Boom, Just in Case You Ever Wonder, and One Hand, Two Hands.  I sat down with my computer and microphone, opened Audacity and began recording as I was reading the story.  (Be sure to tell your child when to turn the page by either saying turn the page, or using a bell or click to indicate a page turn).  When I finished I saved the files as mp3's since they take up less room on a CD and I can put them on an mp3 player in the future.  Burn a disk and if you have one of those fancy programs that create CD labels be sure to label them.  You can probably use a picture of the book cover if you want to get all fancy with it.

Now I have my own set of read along stories for Princess A and didn't have to spend a fortune to get them!  If you aren't familiar with Audacity there are a ton of tutorials online to help you figure it out.  For this project it's pretty straight forward, but if you feel adventurous you can use the program to change your voice for each character in the story or to add sound effects and even create a music track to play behind your voice. 

Until next time,

P.S. If you aren't familiar with One Hand, Two Hands you can read my review at http://bookreview4u2.blogspot.com/2010/09/one-hand-two-hands.html as well as several other book reviews!
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