Condo Blues: Worlds Most Fabulous Aunt




Showing posts with label Worlds Most Fabulous Aunt. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Worlds Most Fabulous Aunt. Show all posts

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Cedar Point Halloweekends Halloween Easter Eggs

Last weekend I went to the BloggyConference blog conference to learn how to be a better blogger for all of you, the greatest community on plant Earth.

BloggyCon is a little different than the blogging conferences I attended in the past because it was held at Cedar Point. During the day, I took a ton of notes during the sessions and networked with bloggers and brands to bring you the best content possible. At night, I rode all of the roller coasters and saw the sights at Cedar Point. It is right next to the conference hotel, how could I not?


Keep reading and pin this post! I made a video about Halloweekend and embedded it in this post!
Just so you don’t think I’m biased because I got free stuff, I here to tell you I didn't get free stuff. I paid for my tickets to Cedar Point. My enthusiasm in the video is fueled with 6 hours sleep for the weekend total and a ton of coffee.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

How to Make a Harry Potter House Tie Necklace

Miss 3 of 10 is a magical child. She went to Diagon Alley with her family. Her wand picked her in the Ollivander's show at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Lucky kid!

I wanted to give her a Christmas gift that helped her remember that day (besides the wand souvenir her parents bought her in the gift shop.) Miss 3 of 10's favorite Hogwarts house is Ravenclaw. I made her a Hogwarts house tie necklace for Christmas.

How to Make a Hogwarts House Tie Necklace





Monday, September 9, 2013

The Last of the Summer Fun and Lacey Update!

Oh Summer. I wait for you all year long and before you know it – poof! – you are gone.

Our summer got off to a weirdly slow start due to the constant heavy rain. Husband and I tag teamed a few necessary business trips so Lacey would not be face her greatest fear – being left behind. 

Lacey’s behavior is not consistent enough to earn the privilege of a vacation or to keep us from being kicked out because of her behavior. Husband and I took long weekend staycations instead because we still need time off to unplug, be silly, and recharge.

We started with short trips to the dog park. Lacey thinks she has to challenge other dogs and get them before they get her - a classic case of Little Dog Syndrome.  We keep the dog park trips short so Lacey won’t get overwhelmed.

LaceySummer2014
Some of Lacey's summer adventures!

Just like with human kids, there are well behaved dogs that play well with others and sometimes there are bullies who try to challenge the other dogs or dominate them. It is critical you keep an eye on your dogs at all times to head off any potential problems and be ready to leave to avoid them even if it means you are only there for 15 minutes.

Sometimes we had to leave the park shortly after we arrived with our tail between our legs because our kid was the one whipping the other dogs into a frenzy. It doesn't happen often, and it is part of the process as we puppy step her in the right direction.

Monday, November 19, 2012

20 Cute and Eco! Christmas Ornaments


I think my love of tree ornaments comes from Grandmother making me ornaments each Christmas of my teenage years so I’d have a set when I went out on my own. My favorites will hang on our family Christmas tree. It feels like she is still with us during Christmas. 

I carry on the Christmas tree ornament gift tradition. I give each of my nine nieces and nephews a Baby’s First Christmas ornament on their first Christmas. Santa always puts a new ornament in Miss 3 of 9’s and Mr. 7 of 9’s Christmas stocking since those are the only kids who do stockings (besides my house.) I usually buy those ornaments so I don’t tip them off that Santa sometimes has help filling their stockings from this side of the North Pole. Not to mention, I get to satisfy my ornament addition, um fascination, by spending a lot of time browsing for their perfect yearly ornament.

Let’s check out some Christmas tree ornament eye candy!  

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Cinderella Coach Playhouse

My best friend's dad built her and her sister a wood playhouse that looks like a little red school house. It had sliding glass windows with bug screens, a locking door, and bench seats that doubled as daybeds for the most AWESOME LITTLE GIRL SLEEPOVERS EVER!

I was more than a little jealous because we rented at the time which meant no epic cool playhouse for me. Instead I made elaborate blanket forts in our rec room.

I've more than a little obsessed with playhouses ever since.

Especially when I see something like the La Belle Au Bois Dormant Coach playhouse. Just look at this thing!

I want one for my backyard

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Bacon Candles


I cut the top off a beer bottle, ground the sharp edges, and filled it with phthalate free bacon scented soy wax and topped it with a lead free wick. 

Why?

  • I like candles.
  • Husband likes beer.
  • Blitzkrieg likes bacon.
I floated the idea of a bacon candle to my foodie friends during a Monday Foodies Nite In Twitter chat (Join us! Please?) They went bonkers for it. No surprise there because bacon always comes up during the chat no matter what the weekly party topic. I don't understand it, but people really love their bacon.  

I made soy beer candles, crème brulee candles, and campfire candles so my bacon candles would not feel lonely in our Blitzkrieg Cancer Treatment Fund booth at the Pet Promise Rescue Run. After the candles cooled, I realized I needed a label. Then I realized I needed something to put on the label. Think. Think. Thinkidy think.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

What Type of Sewing Machine Do You Have? Do You Like It?

At 39 years old, my Kenmore sewing machine has seen and sewn it all. My mom bought it in 1972. Mom put many miles on her. Bessie sewed curtains for my childhood bedrooms, countless Halloween costumes, and Barbie clothes. Mom sewed color guard uniforms, flags, and more high school musical costumes than I can count before, during, and after I graduated high school.
Everyone say hi to Bessie!

Why do I call her Bessie? Because when the machine acted up mom yelled, “Come on Bessie!” as she sewed and the machine snapped back in line. Bessie is a safer thing to say around little kid ears (mine) than saying what you really want to say when you are frustrated with things not going your way during a project.

Mom gave me Bessie after she got a new sewing machine. I put many miles on Bessie too. Under my roof, we sewed blankets and toys for Blitzkrieg, Christmas gifts, curtains, slipcovers, reupholstered furniture, and repurposed more things than I can count. Bessie and I designed costumes and historical clothing too. Bessie is Mommy’s Little Moneymaker when it comes to building costumes.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Sew Tabletop CornHole Mini Bean Bags

Now that you made a set of tabletop corn hole game boards, you need (4) 2 inch by 2 inch bean bags for each team (8 beanbags in all) to play Tabletop Cornhole!



Craftsman Blogger Summit
Table top corn hole game board

What?! You didn't make my tabletop cornhole boards? Click on over to my tabletop cornhole ttutorial and make a set. 

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I made a paper pattern to make sure I cut off of my squares the same size.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Make Personalized Garden Stepping Stones

On Miss M’s first Christmas, she made everyone in the family a personalized concrete garden stepping stone with her handprints in them. Wasn’t she a talented baby?

It says May All of Your Weeds be Wildflowers
 because I had a wildflower garden at my old house.

I never knew how easy it was to make a concert garden marker until Husband and I got a stepping stone kit as a gift from the people who played our characters’ servants when we retired from performing at The Ohio Renaissance Festival.

You can buy a kit or make our own. My stepping stone kit was a bag of concrete mix, a pan/form, and sometimes stamps or a stick to use to write a message in your stepping stone. Some kits inclue the stones and glass or you can buy brightly colored bits of glass or marbles at a craft store like baby Miss M did because she was a talented infant artist AND a bargain shopper.

My stepping stone kit didn't come with glass or colored stone bits. I scavenged around ther house for things to embed in my stepping stone and raided the recycling bin for glass bottles to smash for colored glass bits.


Heresford is the name of characters Husband
 and I played during our last years at ORF.

A few tips:

  • You don’t have to buy a stepping stone kit. You can use any flat pan for your mold although I think the plastic pan that came in my kit made it easier to remove the dry stone from the pan and reuse it if I ever want to make more stepping stones. I've seen just the plastic stepping stone mold for sale at craft stores.

  • If you plan to make more than one stepping stone, it is cheaper to buy a small package of quick setting concrete at the home improvement store than buying special stepping stone mix at the craft store. Why? Because the special stepping stone mix at the craft store is really just a more expensive bag of quick setting concrete.

  • The concrete stamps are a nice thing to have if your writing neatly with stick skills are poor like mine. I think my stamping in a straight line skills could use some work too.

  • To smash my glass bottles I put them in a bucket and draped a rag over the top of the bottles in the bucket. I dropped a hammer into the bucket on my patio so I wouldn’t have glass shards flying all over the house.

  • You need to let the stone dry and cure for several weeks undisturbed. I made my stone on the table in my craft room and left it there untouched until the concrete cured several weeks later.
I use both stones as garden art. Howevert I could make a bunch and use them for a walkway if I had room in my yard.

Personalized stepping stones make great gifts!


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Sunday, July 11, 2010

Make a Cornhole Game

Cornhole  is a game that’s similar to horseshoes but uses beanbags. It’s very popular at tailgates and picnics in Ohio and Indiana. I’m not sure why. It’s kitschy rednecky cool in that Jeff Foxworthy You Might Be a Redneck If… sort of way. Maybe because conhole is a game you can easily play and not spill the drink or drop the cheeseburger you’re holding in your other hand?

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I built this all by myself!

You can easily make a cornhole game or buy one premade. The store bought boards are called something insipid like Bean Bag Toss Game or Baggo. However part of the whole Cornhole thing is to make the boards or to buy homemade boards from someone else.

I made a set for Mother and Father in-law for our big Family Reunion Weekend because because Father in-law loves nothing more than a reason to get his family together. Cornhole is a game kids and adults can play with each other a little more safely than say, horseshoes.

I also wanted to build the boards because Father in-law gets a kick that I'm the only one in the family that likes DIY as much as he does. He calls me his ToolBelt Diva. *blush*

Making a Cornhole game is simple construction and is a good beginner woodworking project. It’s also a good project if you’re someone like me who’s last project of building something from scratch was 7th grade wood shop.

I used the plans for regulation boards I found on Cornhole Game Players and sewed relegation size and weight bean bags with fabric from my fabric stash I filled them with dried pinto beans instead of the traditional dried feed corn which is still allowed. Oh yes, apparently there is a whole Official Cornhole Association and Tournaments and whatnot. If any of the kids get hooked on Cornhole want to be professional Cornhole players they are good to go courtesy of Aunt Lisa.

Here are a  few tips and helpful hints if you make a Cornhole game.

1. Use two layers of fabric for your beanbags as the directions recommend because they will take a pounding! Instead of using muslin for the liner, I used fabric from an old heavy cotton curtain panel. Make sure that you use the same weight of fabric for all of your beanbags.

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I made a paper template to ensure that all of my beanbags are the same size.


2. I don’t have a table saw (pity I know.) However I was able to have the wood cut for me for free when I bought it at Lowes. I think Home Depot also cuts wood if you buy it there. I don’t know if or what they charge for this service.

3. I used stainless steel screws for this project. I did this so the screws wouldn’t rust in case the boards were accidentally left outside in the rain (even though I know this will never happen. I know everyone will treat them like gold instead of treating them like a toy that you throw things at.)

4. Hold the long screws into place using needle nose pliers while you are drilling them into the pilot holes in your boards to ensure you screw them straight down into the boards.


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You can use this technique for nails too.

Guess how I know?

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I didn't use pilers as a guide and accidently screwed a screw in at an angle.

This screw wouldn’t back out because it uses a star shaped head (a special bit that came with the screws.) I fixed it by cutting the end of the screw off with a Dremel and filling the hole with a dab of wood putty. Which my in-laws didn’t find out about my blunder until I blabbed about it on the Internet. Let’s hear it for full disclosure! (Do I have to disclose that FTC? Because I think I just did.)

5. Older kids may be able to help you with parts of this project but please take all safety precautions for yourself and your kids. If you’re not comfortable doing something please seek out advice from an expert or get a pro because it’s easy to have an accident and get hurt.

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I’m showing you this photo again for sympathy.

In fact, I was being Miss Safety First and still accidentally countersunk my thumb when Mommy’s Little Helper (my drill) slipped off a screw head and into my thumb. Fortunately it bled worse than it actually was but it’s a good reminder about safety.

It’s also a good thing to hold over my in-laws heads. I bled for you – be grateful! Even if the construction is a little off :)

6. I recommend using the belt sander the plans call for to sand the edges of the board. I tried using my palm sander and it was slow going. I gave up, bought a belt sander, and sweet baby Jane! It did the job in a short amount of time.

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Sweet Baby Jane? Sounds like a good name for my new belt sander.
Hey, they name boats. Why not tools?

7. The plans had very complicated directions what to use and not use to draw and cut the hole in the boards. I grabbed a 6-inch plastic lid from the kitchen and traced around it with a pencil – problem solved.

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A regulation cornhole is 6 inches wide.

8. The plans also had a very complicated directions on how make make the rounded legs. Instead I traced around a small paint can and cut along the line with a jigsaw. Why do guys have to make everything sound so complicated in the workshop?

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It’s not brain surgery dude.

9. I painted the boards with outdoor paint I had leftover from my porch chair revamp. I built the boards and legs first. Then I painted them and let them dry before I bolted the legs to the boards, which made life a lot easier.

I  took the game to my in-laws farm and it was big hit with everyone in attendance. I’m sure we’ll get a lot of use out of it for years to come.

Hey FTC: The stores and brands I mentioned in this post didn’t pay me to mention them because they don’t even know I exist at the corporate level (tragic, considering my local stores know me very well. I spend lots of my money there.) I bought everything with my own money with the exception of the Dremel and the Mouse because I got those as Christmas gifts. Exactly how do it report that?




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Thursday, April 15, 2010

10 Ways Kids Can Go Green for Earth Day

I did one of my informal polls of the neighborhood kids. I asked them for ideas on kids how kids can go green for Earth Day. I got some interesting answers.

“You should get solar panels!”

Um, no. I’ll stick to my solar garden lights. Solar panels aren’t a good year round return on investment in central Ohio.

“You should get a hybrid car!”

Why is it that all of these suggestions are things I can do that would benefit a kid living in my house?

“Recycle!”

Well that’s a little closer to what I was looking for but recycling still depends upon an adult setting up or overseeing the program at home.

“Those are good ideas,” I said, “But what can YOU do as a kid, without a grown up’s help, do to go green?”

Silence

Blank stare

*Blink*

After a little prodding, we started brainstorming. We came up with a list of green things kids can do to go green for Earth Day without a grownup’s help.

  1. Clean your plate - It takes a lot of energy to grow and cook food. Eating all you take reduces waste. Don’t worry about leaving stuff behind to feed your home compost bin, I’m sure Mom or Dad will have more than enough food scraps from peeling and preparing vegetables for dinner to take care of that. 
  2. Turn the water off while brushing your teeth - Not wasting water is really important, especially if you live in an area that has a drought. By the way, forgoing brushing your teeth or bathing is not a good way to save water – don’t even think about it. 
  3. Turn off the lights when you leave a room – It takes a lot of energy to make electricity. Turning off the lights when you leave the room saves electricity and helps lower your parents’ electric bills. Don’t believe me? Turning off the lights to unused rooms helped me lower my electric use by 32%.
  4. Take care of your toys, clothes, and belongings – When you throwing a broken toy away it go right into the landfill. That’s not cool. If you take care of your toys, clothes, and other belongings you can give them to kids who don’t have any and nothing is thrown away.
  5. Take off your shoes when you enter the house – Shoes protect your feet from stepping in yucky stuff. If you take off your shoes at the door of your house, you’re not tracking that yucky stuff all over the house. Your parents may be able to vacuum less often and trust me, for that your parents will thank you. 
  6. Dress for the weather. Shorts in the summer, sweaters during the winter. That way mom and dad can set the thermostat a few degrees lower in winter and higher during the summer and save energy. 
  7. Use a cloth napkin at dinner and lunch. Instead of using disposable paper napkins try asking your parents to switch to cloth napkins for dinner or ask them to put a cloth napkin in your lunch box. Don’t have any? Try winning a set of Fabkins children’s cloth napkins
  8. Bring home your reusable containers, lunch box, water bottle home from school or activities – There’s a reason your parents harp on you to bring your lunchbox, water bottle, and stuff home from school each day - so you can reuse them! Step it up, take responsibility and keep track of your stuff. 
  9. Unplug the video game console after you save and shut down your game – See that little that stays on the video game console after you’ve closed the game and turned off the machine? That little light means the box is sucking a little bit of electricity from the socket just to light that little light. We call that vampire power and it’s wasteful. By unplugging my Wii when I’m done playing was another way we reduced our electricity use by 32%.
  10. Join The Great TV Rebellion -  Sign the pledge to turn off your television and turn on nature during Earth Week.
 What do you think kids can do to go green?

    Sunday, January 10, 2010

    5 DIY Sleds

    The recent worldwide winter snows have created a crisis of epic proportion in Germany.

    Worse than the hole in the ozone layer (or is it passé to worry about that any more?)

    Worse than hording Eggos during the current frozen waffle shortage (You realize you can make your own waffles and freeze them for later don’t you? Or is that something going on with waffles that taste worse than the cardboard package that I don’t know about?)

    Europe is running out of sleds!

    Yes, as in slide down the hill and go “whee!” type of sleds.

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    Who needs a sled you have feet?

    Thursday, December 17, 2009

    33 Realistic Ways to Green Your Gift Wrap

    I like wrapping gifts. I have quite the reputation as a good wrapper, yo. It doesn’t have to be hard, expensive, or wasteful. I’ve developed many tips and tricks for wrapping beautiful gifts through trial and lots of error. To do this I rely on two essentials:

    1. My box of boxes. I have a box full of different size gift boxes, gift bags, and gift tins that are always ready and waiting for me to use and reuse.
    2. A box of gift wrap and supplies. Gift bags, wrapping paper, ribbon, tag making supplies, old Christmas cards, gift toppers, scissors, and tape are waiting for me to use and reuse too.

    After the holiday I replenish both with items that I can reuse from the gifts we’ve received on Christmas day. How green and thrifty is THAT?

    Although most of my recipients don’t realize that the item in their hands is wrapped in a green in your face manner. All they see is a pretty package. And that’s the way I like it.

    So what do I specifically use to wrap my holiday gifts in a green, festive, and inexpensive manner? Let’s take a look.

    Gift Wraps

    1. Save and reuse paper gift wrap from year to year – Well gee that one’s easy, inexpensive too.
    2. Buy gift wrap made from recycled paper – If you can find and the price doesn’t blow a hole in your budget, have at.
    3. Maps – It’s not like you can fold them back up like you’re supposed to anyway. Why not reuse those vacation maps as gift wrap?
    4. Kids drawings – Best for smaller gifts and make sure the kiddos are OK with the possibility of their masterpieces being cut to size during wrapping or ripped during unwrapping first.
    5. Brown paper bags – I like the rustic look and use green cloth ribbon or real twine and top with pine cones or seedpods. Very masculine, very green, and very cheap.
    6. Newspaper – I don’t use this anymore because I don’t get the newspaper. When I do it’s my local alternative weekly and I feel weird wrapping a gift in the personal ads (unless it’s as a joke for the newly single.) Your mileage may vary.
    7. Fabric – Great for odd shaped gifts. I once got a handpainted flower pot and herb books wrapped like a gift basket in fabric because I sew. And yes, I loved and used both gifts.
    8. Kitchen towels/cloth napkins, tablecloth, etc. - My mom does this with wedding shower gifts. Last year my father gave wine he had made wrapped in new kitchen towels. Mom said she liked that idea and will do it when she wraps her homemade soy candles as gifts. (Gifts of wine and candles? Oh tell me they aren’t not-so-subtly asking for grandkids, I dare you.)
    9. Scarves – Sometimes the wrapping can be an extra gift. Like say wrapping the new winter hat and gloves your husband so desperately needs in the scarf.
    10. Put the regular wrapping paper you used in a city recycling bin – Some cities will recycle wrapping paper. If so, great! OK, so it may not be so green on the front end but it is on the back end. Sometimes life gives you circumstances where you just have to punt.

    Reusable Non-Wraps AKA Containers so Pretty They Don’t Need Paper Wraps

    Slap a bow on top and you’re done. Pretty, quick, and reusable – I like! This is an excellent solution for those of you who are convinced you can’t wrap/hate to wrap gifts.

    1. Cookie/popcorn/food tins – Excellent for experience gifts like tickets or membership paperwork because it makes the gift look more significant than just handing over an envelope. If the tin is a little worse for wear, spiff it up with some leftover spray paint first.
    2. Chinese takeout style boxes – I found a bunch of new plain white ones in a thrift store, decorated them with stickers and got raves – easy and cheap! Great kid project too.
    3. Printed/decorated box – This may not work out so well if you have people who like to peep at their gifts under the tree before Christmas.
    4. Gift bag (fabric/paper/decorate a store bag) - I save and reuse gift bags from year to year. In a pinch, I’ve decorated and reused paper shopping bags. This is another excellent kid craft. I use undecorated store shopping bags for pet gifts because Christmas is the one day out of the year that Blitzkrieg is allowed to shred paper and he likes to unwrap his own gifts.
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    I can pull my gift out by myself if it’s wrapped in a gift bag. I’m very careful which allows Lisa to reuse my gift bags.

    Gift Bag/Box Stuffing

    1. Save tissue paper from previous years – If you can. Sometimes it just doesn’t hold up from one year to the next.
    2. Use/buy shredded/crinkled paper – Once I found this stuff I switched over to stuffing gift bags with this instead of tissue paper. It’s much easier to save and reuse from year to year.
    3. Shred old wrapping/colored paper – A good solution if you have a paper shredder and gift wrap that your city doesn’t recycle or you run out of #1 and #2, the store’s closed, and you’re about to leave for a party. Guess how I know?

    Ribbons

    I love packages tied up with strings. And ribbons. You can still have ribbons and be green about it too.
    1. Natural raffia – You can compost it afterward. Watch out for the plasticy fake stuff unless you think the person will reuse it
    2. Paper craft ribbon – Yes, it’s difficult to reuse or recycle in a bin but you can compost it because it’s paper.
    3. Colored twine – As long as it’s made from a natural fiber it’s compostable too.
    4. Wired ribbon - Easy to refluff and reuse for the following year. I use this a lot because I love topping ribbon with big poufy bows made from more wired ribbon.
    5. Cloth ribbon from your sewing/gift wrap stash.
    6. Cloth rick rack from your sewing/gift wrap stash.
    7. Reuse old video/cassette tape – One divorcee I know used her old wedding video. *Ouch*
    8. Yarn from your craft/gift wrap stash.


    Bows

    1. Save and reuse bows – to save a smashed bow snip through the loops and fluff so it looks a bit like a chrysanthemum. If it still looks a little anemic, tape a second smashed, clipped and refluffed bow inside the first one. Then be cagey when the recipient asks where you bought such cool looking bow for her gift.
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    The formerly squashed bow. My apologies for the picture quality

    2. Fronts of Christmas cards – I usually do this on gifts I have to mail since bows get smashed during shipping.
    3. Make a bow from recycled magazines or chip bags – I’m doing this for Mr. H’s gift this year because he proudly told me that he won an award at school for recycling (you go Mr. H!) I think he’d appreciate the extra effort. Thus clinching the title of World’s Most Fabulous Aunt (trademark pending) for yet another year.
    4. Greenery/pine cones/seedpods/leaves – Tie a little cluster with some ribbon and no-one will ever realize that you ran out of traditional gift bows and ribbon. They will talk about your Martha Stewart gift wrapping powers instead.
    5. Silk or dried flowers – I have these from old bridesmaid’s bouquets in my gift wrapping box. I pull a few flowers/greenery out and tie them together w/ ribbon. If the silks are a little worse for wear I give them a quick spiff up with leftover silver or gold spray paint and make them festive again.
    6. Old garland - Tie a loop of old garland together with string to make a bow – like cluster or use in place of ribbon.
    7. Christmas ornaments – If it’s a personalized ornament it doubles as a gift tag! Minimal effort and maximum impact – what’s not to like?

    Gift Tags

    I’ve never purchased a gift tag. Ever. I use a combination of the following:

    1. Fronts of old Christmas cards I received from previous years.
    2. Wrapping paper scraps cut into a rectangle and folded over – You can spiff them up or cut them down to size with decorative scrap booking scissors if you have them.
    3. Make gift tags from old business cards – I glue 2 business cards together front sides facing in, shape with scissors or a decorative corner punch, and punch a hole in the top to tie to the gift. Easy!
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    I make blank gift tags up ahead of time to make wrapping go more quickly.

    4. Cut gift tags from paper w/ scrap booking stamps/cuttersRenovation Therapy makes round gift tags by punching out and gluing together two different sizes and types of decorative paper. Pretty!


    What is your favorite way to wrap gifts?


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    Thursday, December 10, 2009

    National Brownie Day is a Real Holiday?

    I like to eat brownies. I also like to support local businesses and when those local businesses make brownies, I get an extra happy in my tummy.

    Cheryl & Co. is a based in Columbus and they make brownies. Their cookies are the stuff of legend. They invited me their Headquarters December 8th to celebrate National Brownie Day and also to learn about their other companies, The Popcorn Factory and 1-800 Flowers. Which are companies I patronize already and had no idea were part of Cheryl & Co. I accepted their invite much to Husband’s delight.

    Tip: I keep and reuse Cheryl & Co. and The Popcorn Factory’s sturdy and brightly printed cookie boxes, popcorn and cookie tins for wrapping small gifts. Experience gifts like tickets or membership paperwork look more significant when they come in a decorated tin. All you need to do is slap on a bow or ribbon and you’re done! Quick, pretty, reusable gift wrap. I like.
    I saw how Cheryl & Co. make their famous cookies and brownies. The process is kind of like how you’d do it at home with real butter, eggs, and sugar but on a much bigger scale. I was impressed that Cheryl & Co. doesn’t add extra preservatives to their cookies and that they can still be frozen for up to six months.

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    Cookies cooling and waiting for butter cream frosting

    Tuesday, November 3, 2009

    Candyland Cake

    Little Mr G. had a birthday. Birthdays mean cake. No crappy grocery store bakery cake for this kid. Mr G’s mom made a cake from scratch, plunked it on a clean and reused cake plank, and decorated it to look like one of his favorite game boards.


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    Photo curtesy of Mr. G's mom

    Candyland!

    With real candy, yo.

    Coolest. Cake. Ever.


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    Thursday, October 29, 2009

    Decorate Your Pumpkins with Stencils!

    Husband wanted to carve pumpkins this year for Halloween. Intricate carving with stencils kind of pumpkins like the Bruce Campbell/Evil Dead pumpkin our friend carved last Halloween. I wasn’t surprised. He's been talking about  it off and on ever since he snatched up a pumpkin carving kit on super duper mega sale last year after Halloween.

    Looks like we’re decorating pumpkins this year.

    We gathered our supplies. Pumpkins – check. Carving Kit – check. Stencils – check. Paints – check.

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    Can you believe we got these little beauties for $1.99 each?! First we went to the North Market for pumpkins. They only had one and it was a little bigger than a softball so we passed. Then we trucked over to Aldi to grab milk and saw what was left of the Halloween pumpkins for sale. They were the right size and on sale for $1.99. Yes please.

    Chances ae the pumpkins were so cheap because they were a little dirty and the backsides are a little mottled but some water, dish soap, and a few squirts of vinegar from a spary bottle took care of the dirt. Using the front side of the pumpkin dealt with the mottling.

    Big Game Bargain Huntress score!

    *bows deeply*

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    Husband plunged a knife into his pumpkin and scooped out its brains!

    We saved the seeds for roasting and the stringy pumpkin goo. Husband says the goo is what you’re supposed to use for cooking. I think it’s the rind. Does anyone know for certain?

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    I got my spider stencil off the internet and printed it out on the backside of some junk mail.

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    I used the stencil to paint my pumpkin because Husband said he can’t trust me with knives (he’s right.) Well that and I wanted to keep at least one pumpkin intact to use for food after the holiday.

    Also I can’t draw worth squat without a computer. Hence, the stencil.

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    As you can see, I choose to paint my pumpkin in the style of a 5 year old child with no arms and no legs. When I told Husband my plans he shouted, “Like Matisse!” Goofball.

    If you’re thinking “Hey that looks a little like the bug that’s on the Method bottle!” you wouldn’t be wrong. I had to use their stencil so I could enter my pumpkin in Method's pumpkin carving contest. The winner gets cleaning supplies. I figure after this little adventure I'll need a slew of cleaning supplies to clean up the leftover pumpkin chunks and goo.Wish me luck!

    Husband carved his pumpkin following the lines of a stencil that came in the kit. I think his came out much better than mine.

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    You can bet these little beauties will grace our porch on Beggar’s Night.

    Updated 11/4/2009: Hey guess what? Method did a random drawing on their pumpkin carving contest entries and I won! My prize is a bunch of Method cleaning supplies. Yay me!

    Sunday, October 4, 2009

    What Are Your Favorite Homemade Gifts for Men and Boys?

    OK gang. I need your help. Even though I try to Christmas shop for ideas and gifts all year round, I’m a little behind this year. Yes, I realize that it’s barely October and I should be writing about Halloween and Fall wonderfulness and not Christmas. I will write about that later, I promise.

    PhotobucketIt’s just that Crunchy Chicken with her Homemade Christmas Gift Challenge and Renovation Therapy’s making cloth gift bags early, both got me in the mood for making Christmas gifts now. Which is a good idea all the way around. I’m in desperate need for a project. Preferably one that doesn’t involve ripping the kitchen apart like the one I just finished. Projects keep me off the streets at night. You really don’t want a (sort of) suburban girl like me gone wilding now do you? Of course you don’t.

    I’m sewing things for some of the ladies on my list. I’ll write about that later after I deliver a birthday gift. I don’t want to ruin the surprise on the off chance she reads my blog (Hi Mom!)

    Blitzkrieg and his dog cousin Chopper are set.

    My problem this holiday season is I don’t have any ideas on what to make for the guys on my gift list. For the side of the family that does Christmas stockings, last year I helped Santa fill them by making peppermint chocolate bark for the guys and peppermint sugar scrubs for the girls. That might happen again because it went over big last year.

    Other than that I’m stumped.

    Women and girls are easy, most crafty things are women-centric (soaps, jewelry, scarves, etc.) and being a girl I have some insight on what the women on my list might like. Men are a little more problematic because I have no experience being a dude.

    What are you favorite gift ideas for boys and men?

    And a couple of the guys are my list are tween boys. They are way past the age of most handmade little boy toys (*snif*.) They’d rather play video/computer games so I usually go with that. They eschew handmade toiletry items because they are, well, boys. And as of this writing girls are still kinda icky so smelling like a manly man for the ladeez isn’t on their radar – yet. Thank goodness! I’m not ready for that.

    Are you making anything for the men on your gift list? What is it?

    Guys, what was a favorite homemade gift that you received? I’m really looking at you to help me out on this one. Especially if you got a homemade gift that didn’t quite hit the mark. I really like to know about those too. Help a gal out, I’d really like to know. Thanks!


    PS: Just so I’m not jumping the seasonal gun too much, here’s a picture of a scarecrow I made last Fall.

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    Happy?

    Wednesday, August 19, 2009

    How to Make Nontoxic Blowing Bubble Mix

    As The World’s Most Fabulous Aunt (trademark pending) I like to do fun things with my nieces and nephews. Preferably in a way that won’t kill them. Or maim them. Because hoo-boy! Parents can get testy when you return their kid to them with a chunk missing.

    Not that I would know anything about that.

    When I have kid visitors, I like to have something fun for them to do. One way I keep the older kids from gluing their faces to the hand held video games they bring with them (a little rude, yo) and keep the younger ones from climbing up my walls (taking full advantage of their normally eagle eyed parents being distracted by visiting and chatting with say, me) is to make and blow bubbles! Of course this being The Condo I like to do it green and on the cheap if I can help it. Here’s how.


    Make and Blow Green Bubbles!

    You will need:

    Wednesday, July 22, 2009

    Christmas Shopping Tips that Save Time and Money

    Here’s a big tip to help you save money this Christmas. Start your holiday shopping now. Early. Way early. July early even.

    Don’t go hating. At first, I thought this was nutty too. And of course I mocked the friend who told me that he finished his Christmas shopping in September because it seemed waaaaaay too early to think about such things.



    That was about the time that Husband and I were getting serious in the relationship department. Well, we’re not usually serious (ever!) so let’s be more truthful and say we were moving from the boyfriend-girlfriend stage into this could be THE ONE stage.

    Awwwwww.

    That meant that my Christmas shopping list doubled because Husband’s family was added to my own list. That’s a lot more people than I was used to shopping for. And it's grown. After many years of marriage, I now have 35 people on my gift list and that’s just immediate family and their offspring. So yeah, I have incentive to shop early and year round for all of my holiday gifts.

    Especially since Husband hates to shop and I end up doing most of it.