Friday, January 29, 2010

Creative, Free Valentine Printables

I thought I would post some great Valentine printables nice and early. I found a lot of super cute Valentines for children and adults- unfortunately, Ariana's school does not let the kids give out Valentines (grrrr- please take every bit of fun out of school dear public school system), but I will give her a few for her close friends and neighbors.

The Rubber Punkin has some very simple mini cards that might even be used in your honey buns lunchbox for a few days.
I love the simplicity of this card from The Long Thread:
If you like vintage, the RuffledBlog has a sweet Valentine:
Bunny Cakes has a great classroom Valentine that you can download for free or pay $3.50 to have her send you a personalized PDF: She also has the greatest 'Love is All You Need' cards:
Ambrosia girl has some great Moulin Rouge-inspired cards:
Skip to My Lou has a great lollipop holder (do any schools allow that anymore?):
The NewNew Blog has a great printable for your own love-inspired Mad Libs book:
Secret Agent Josephine has some very simple cards for the youngest loves: I love these seed packets and tea gift packs from Tricia Rennea (I was in Lowes today and they already have their spring seeds out, so this is perfect!): Printing your own Valentines is a great way to keep things simple and reduce waste- simply print only what you need. It also gives your children the option to customize different sentiments for different friends.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Design on a Dime: Project 4

See Project 1, Project 2 and Project 3.

Here is my biggest project yet... a whole new room for Acadia. As you know we just moved her into her very own room. Her room will also double as a guest room so it can't be quite as cutesy and frilly as a baby girls nursery might normally be. Also, I really have no money to spend on remodeling it, so it really is a design on a dime. Without further ado... the before:
The baby blue and lavender wall were only there since that's what I had for leftover pain the last time I painted this room. But, as most of our bedding, accessories and everything else in this family is pink and pastel, so I really wanted to do away with the pastel walls as not to have pastel overload. So, repainting the walls was the major project... from there I just needed to fill with her crib, some fun accessories and voila:
Here's the rundown: The beige paint was again a leftover (which is why I still have a lavender wall- I need to go buy more) ($0) The couple of pieces of artwork on the wall were printed for free from IndieFixx and then mounted on canvas via ModgePodge ($6). The caricature is of Acadia and myself done by an artist last year and put in a frame I had tucked away (hey, if I am putting all the blood, sweat and tears into decorating, I can totally pimp myself out, right?) ($0) The circle artwork on the wall was inspired by other websites. It is just some fabric scraps put into embroidery hoops. I did have to purchase these hoops at AC Moore. ($12) (I am still up in the air about the hoops since I am pretty heavily weighted to the left side of my brain and struggling with things not lining up perfectly.) The larger shelf and brackets was purchased from Lowes. ($26) The stand next to the bed was an old wine rack that we no longer needed as this house came with one built in. I just removed the innards to make it a cute shelf. ($0) The rocking chair was a gift to Acadia from Grammy and the quilt hanging on it was from my Aunt. ($0) The smaller shelf hanging on the wall to the right came out of my shed. I had bought a few years ago when I saw them on clearance at Lowes. The frame hanging below it is a TJ Maxx clearance item ($4) hung with yet another scrap of fabric tied into a bow. The bedspread is actually the same as the before picture but I flipped it over to a white side. However, if you look close, you will see some patches on there. I had to sew some on to cover an unfortunate nail polish incident. (Note: sewing patches on the middle of a king sized quilt with a rinky-dinky sewing machine is not for the weak or faint of heart!) I used the same scraps as the embroidery hoops to make it coordinate somewhat. I did not have a sham other than the teal one that matched the other side of the quilt, so I stopped by my trusty Goodwill and grabbed a vintage floral one for ($1). Speaking of Goodwill, there are a couple of vintage records on the bigger shelf (Bambi, Winnie the Pooh and Pinocchio) all purchased from Goodwill for $1. ($3) The curtains are tied back with even more scrap fabric tied through some old brackets found in my shed.

That's pretty much it for money spent. Any other accessories are all pilfered from other areas of the house or were gifts waiting in my room until Acadia moved into her own place. And if you are wondering why I did not give you a photo of the part of the room with her crib, it is because it is completely bare. I have a huge paranoia about hanging stuff over a crib and having it fall down on their little baby heads. I am trying to brainstorm something soft that I can put up there as not to cause myself undue anxiety.

And, if you are wondering, Cady loves her new space. She immediately went to her sisters' room and stole some legos to bring to her room so she could play on her nice clean floor.

Grand total for a new guest room/baby girl room: $52. Not too bad, right?

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Tutorial: Paper Butterfly Wall Art

Well, since Acadia is in her very own room, I suppose I will have to decorate it. I am actually almost done and will have the big reveal in a Design on a Dime post in a couple of days... but I will share one project that I have done so far. I have seen similar wall art like this elsewhere and I thought it was adorable for little girls room...

It is a very simple project but you do need to invest a little money up front to get the supplies... You need a a frame, butterfly craft punch (or any shape you'd like)and some Mini Pop Dots. The butterfly punch was by Martha Stewart and was around $10 each at Michaels (use the 40% coupons they always offer in their flyers to save on these) The Pop Dots are only around $2-$3 for 264! You also need some sort of scrap paper to cut the butterflies from. I have found that my tattoo magazines are great for this project; they are very colorful and have varied artwork.

Next step: Start punching! This is easy as you can just sit in front of the TV and punch a ton of butterflies mindlessly. And then:
Place a Mini Pop Dot on the back of each butterfly and adhere it inside your frame. You can layer 2 or 3 dots per butterfly to get a nice 3D effect on your finished product.

You can make them as small or large as you can get a frame to fit. You can have fun with different color schemes or hidden words, or even use pieces of family photos. The possibilities are endless here.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Gone, Baby, Gone

She's gone. That's the corner where her crib has been for the last year and a half; where the sun shined down on her during her afternoon nap; where she would wake up at the crack of dawn, jump up, look over at me and squeal, "Momma!" Where I would walk over in the dark every night before I went to bed and tuck her pink blankie under her chin, remove any books or toys and rub the side of her head to make sure she wasn't fevered.

Saturday night was my last chance to do that... before we moved her to her own room. I had been dreading this moment. I truly enjoyed having her close to me... hearing her every breath, every sigh.. even getting to hear her giggle in her sleep. Out of the 3 girls, she was the only one to ever share our room. We were truly lucky that they all slept through the night very early on so they went straight to cribs in nurseries with no bassinets or co-sleeping. Consequently, I enjoyed having her close. But we knew it couldn't last too long or she would really become accustomed to us being with her at night and a transition would be increasingly difficult (for her and I both.)

Saturday night was my last night listening to her breaths, her rustling, her murmuring. I don't know if I will remember the details years from now. We never remember the lasts. It's only the firsts that we etch into our memory, in our baby books, in our journals. But it is the lasts that I want to remember... the last time they smile at you with that gummy mouth before they get their first tooth... the last time they gaze up at you from your breast before they move on to their sippy cup or baby bottle... the final time they lay on your chest and fall asleep twirling your hair before they are just too big to fit into that nook on your chest.

It's the lasts I want to enjoy; to appreciate and relish as the moment passes. To know that it will never happen again and not to take it for granted.

Thankfully, there is a big guest bed in her room, so if I really feel the need, I can sneak a couple more last nights sleeping with her.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Sunday Citar

“It is never too late to have a happy childhood”
-Tom Robbins

Go visit the lovely Tabitha for more Sunday Citar.

Kids Do the Darndest Things

So, after my yesterdays tutorial, I had left my Modge Podge on the table. I was in the kitchen doing dishes when I hear a soft, "Momma." It was a not-so-innocent 'Momma', a 'Momma' with a slight rise of the voice on the second syllable which made me very apprehensive to peek around the corner... for good reason... because this is what I saw:

Annnddd this:

Yes, Modge Podge is non toxic and yes, it does take a very long soak in the bath to get that much off a little devil. But how could I possibly be mad at that face????

Friday, January 22, 2010

Tutorial: Photo Wood Blocks

Here is my first step-by-step tutorial... and I made it an easy one. I made these blocks for my mom and mother-in-law for Christmas and they loved them, so I thought I'd share. They are easy, although time consuming. And if you think they are just too much work... I would love to make them for you.

Start with Modge Podge, scrapbook paper, blocks (I bought mine here) foam brush, and photos printed on a laser printer slightly smaller than the block. (I printed my photos at 1.22 inches for a 1.25" block), a good cutter and letters (I used rub on letters bought at Michaels, but you can use printed letters or stamps- whatever works for you.)

Cut all you scrapbook paper out to fit the squares and cut your pictures out. I really suggest a cutter here, it makes it way easier.

You then use your foam brush to apply a thin layer of Modge Podge to the block and apply the paper and the photos in whatever arrangement you desire. I like to use a plain or simpe paper for the blocks that I want to apply the letters to, it makes them easily readable.

Apply another thin layer of Modge Podge.

It is very important that you let the blocks dry completely between all steps. Wait a few hours or you could end up with a gooey mess. After they are dry, you can apply the rub-on letters to the blocks by... well... rubbing them on with the end of your foam brush.

That's it, basically you are done. However, the ever overachiever, I like to age mine. To do this, use sand paper, some craft paint (I like Folk Art Maple Syrup) and a foam brush.

Lightly sand the corners and edges (I use a 120-180 grit sandpaper) At this point, I am not above child labor...
Now use a tiny teeny amount of the piant and rub it on all the edges and corners.

And voila:

They make fantastic gifts, Mother's Day, Valentines Day, anniversaries. It would be great to give at a baby shower with personalized photos of the baby's family.

Have fun!

Update: Check out these photo blocks that Darci did where she really dressed them up for Mother's Day.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

“I see my path, but I don't know where it leads. Not knowing where I'm going is what inspires me to travel it.”

I have been at this blog fun for over 2 years now. One of my goals this year was to move it to the next level, to do something new. I want to create a new path for my inspiration.

One way of moving this blog to the next level for me was to monetize it. There are two simple ways of making money on a blog: selling advertising on the blog, or using the blog to lead your readers to something you are marketing.

I considered advertising but, honestly, I really dislike reading blogs that are full of ads and I would be a hypocrite if I stared throwing ads all over my own blog. So, that option is out.

So, I guess I have to get my readers to buy something that I am selling. Hmmm, crap, that means I need to have something to sell. I have been thinking this over for months. I decided to start an Etsy shop since I love to shop there, however I need to create something to actually put in the shop. As I was brainstorming this whole idea through the holidays, it gave me the opportunity to try my hand at a few different crafts. I baked a lot, I sewed some things, I made some great wood blocks (will post on that soon.)

I discovered a few things: I am not a sewer. (That's sew-er, not toilet waste.) I tried my hand at a few hand sewn crafts and, while they came out ok, they took me for-ev-er! Way too much time invested and it just really didn't interest me much. If I am going to get into a whole new pastime, it really needs to be something to hold my interest.

This brings me to my moment or revelation. My wonderful friend, Isolde sent me an email with a link to a home that we both fell in love with. In discussing the home, she revealed how she loved the country type architecture, infused with touches of modern decor. I do as well. And I had one of those moments... a moment that brought me back to one of my most favorite stores in the world, an architectural salvage warehouse in northern New Hampshire. It is a place that inspires me every single time I step in the door. I can look at every rusty doorknob, every tattered window shutter and see something beautiful. I knew what I wanted to do and to make me truly happy it would need to involve this:

So I headed on a road trip to the mountains to see my muse and buy some supplies. And I have been working for days to create something to be proud of...

Introducing my very own Etsy Shop: Live Simply.

Now, for my regular readers and friends, I need your help. I need sincere and honest feedback. I have only created a few 'prototypes' so far so that I can get a feel for what people like. I need you to go see the page and give me ideas.
Do you like the barn board left natural or whitewashed?
Which knobs do you like?
Which vase type do you prefer?
Is there something I am missing? Something I should change? Any ideas at all?

I would really appreciate honest feedback... I have tough skin, don't worry. "I love it all, Michele." just won't do here!

Go... check it out... get back to me so I can start creating for the people!

Friday, January 15, 2010

Using iGoogle and Google Reader to streamline your time spent online.

Ok, I know that 95% of people who read this are quite adept at the internet and savvy using a reader or iGoogle. But this is a tutorial for my mom the other 5%. I realized when I inadvertently removed a friend from my blogroll and my mom someone said "I can't read XYZ blog anymore since you took the link off your blog" that there might still be people out there who don't use a reader. Maybe my mom people don't even know they exist.

Let me enlighten you. There is a way to gather all of the blogs that you like to read in one place so that you can read them all at once without navigating tons of blog pages... similar to reading a magazine. I use Google Reader. I also use iGoogle, which puts my Google Reader, Gmail inbox, calendar and other gadgets all on one page. This saves me clicking link after link every morning to read all my fave blogs, email and agenda for the day. The following is my first attempt at a tutorial. It will walk you through the steps to set up an iGoogle page complete with a Google reader.

Go to iGoogle. You should see a page something like this: Click on the 'Get Started' which should bring you here:
Choose your appropriate town, theme or interest and then click the "See your page" button.

You should get something that looks like this:

If you have a Gmail account, take this opportunity to sign in by clicking where I have put the red arrow. This will enable you to have your Gmail viewable every time you open your iGoogle. And then move on to the 'Add Stuff' button where I have the purple arrow.

This is where you will be able to add a Google Reader gadget. Type 'reader' into the search bar here where I have put the red arrow:

Your search will bring this up: Click on the Google Reader where I have put the red arrow.

That will add a Google Reader gadget to your iGoogle homepage. Here is what mine looks like:

It is slightly different than yours since I have used the drag and drop feature to move my Google Reader and Gmail gadgets to the top of my page. If you then click on the 'Google Reader' tab, it will open Google Reader for you, which looks like this:

It will open up with a truncated version of all the articles/posts. If you click on the 'All Items' bold header, it will give you the full posts (if the writer provides full posts in the reader.) Like this: You are now able to just scroll down and read the newest posts from all your favorite blogs in one place, similar to reading a newspaper. If you want to go to the blog, just click on the bold name of the blog in the reader.

But wait. How the heck do I get blogs into my reader in the first place??? Well, when you are reading a blog that you like, look for a symbol like this: Click on it and it will bring up a choice of readers for you to add it to. In this case, you would want to choose the Google Reader. Most Blogger (or Blogspot) blogs have a subscribe button near the very bottom of the blog. Scroll down and you will see this:

Subscribe to: Posts (Atom)

There is no icon, just the text. Click on the text and it will again bring you to the subscribe option.

There you have it. If anyone does try this, please let me know if I got all the steps right or if I missed anything.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

7 things you didn't need to know about me.

Ok, this is an easy post... I like these. The wonderful Maria over at Bored Mommy has given me the Kreativ Blogger Award (I guess it's more creative if you misspell 'creative???) I like this award because it will not only let me tell you some interesting facts about myself, hopefully I will learn something about my fellow 'kreativ' bloggers. First, the rules:

The rules for accepting this award are:
1) Thank the person giving the award (thank you Maria!)
2) Copy the award to your blog
3) Place a link to their blog
4) Name 7 things people don’t know about you
5) Nominate 7 bloggers
6) Place a link to those bloggers
7) Leave a comment letting those bloggers know about the award

The SEVEN Things People Don’t Know About Me:

When I was first married (around 26 years old) we, by an odd sequence of events, ended up with a 17 year old German exchange student for a year. Being the 26 year old mother of a 17 year old boy for a year is a whole blog in itself. Perhaps someday I will expound.

I was barefoot at my wedding... the whole day, for that matter. Although I did not ever want a stereotypical church wedding, I did want a beautiful gown. But there was no way I was going to wear some shoes on my wedding day that I would never wear in real life. So I didn't. And good thing. We were married on a cliff overlooking the ocean where I had to climb these stone stairs to get to the 'alter'. I can just envision the outcome if I had been wearing some ridiculous shoes making that hike.

I love, LOVE, Broadway shows. Although I could never live in a city, I certainly adore visiting. The first show I saw on Broadway was Phantom of the Opera. I could never do it justice if I tried to explain the experience. Put it on your bucket list.

I have had four pregnancies and one miscarriage. Statistics tell us that between 25% and 40% of conceptions result in a miscarriage, so I was confused when I had one (as I still am today) why I never heard women talk about them. It is something I have been meaning to explore further.

I lived in Maine for the first 20 years of my life... except for a random few months when my mom up and moved us to Missouri. I know... Missouri? Who the hell picks up and moves from Maine to Missouri? What is in Missouri? Not much, from what I can recall at age five.

The very first guy I ever dated came out of the closet years later. My parents laughed at me. They always knew there was something a little 'off' about him. He liked Depeche Mode... I should have taken the hint.

We owned chickens when I was little. I remember seeing a chicken with no head running around after the ax came down (literally). It's pretty traumatising to have a pet and then have him on the dinner table the next day. I refused chicken for a long while. I also refused beef after being taken to see a slaughterhouse. When you are five and see a cow after he has gone through the belly ripper as he hangs upside down to bleed to death, it changes your view of McDonalds hamburgers. I associate slaughterhouses and tortured cattle with Missouri. I don't like Missouri.

See, I bet you never knew those things about me. Now, I want to learn something about some of the bloggers I stalk:

Kameron at A Wrinkle In Time
HappyAtHome at Life Is Like Champagne
Christina at Live Outloud
St at Playa Minded
Nap Mom at No Regrets
Kelly at Your View of My World
Deb at Spawnocalypse
Mandi at Our Life With 2 Crazy Kids

Ok, ladies... spill it! (Add photos to illustrate as well.... I like photos.)