Monday, April 5, 2010

Back From Hawaii

We just got back from Kauai and it was so hard to come back! The weather wasn't perfect but, hey, we were in Hawaii -- rain in Hawaii beats rain in Seattle anytime. Go-chan loved the water and just loved being outside -- it made me feel guilty that he's usually indoors when we're here at home because of the bad weather. But spring is on its way so hopefully we'll be out playing in the sunshine soon!

I discovered my new favorite photographer on our trip. That makes me sound like I had a favorite photographer before this. I'm not an artsy-fartsy kind of person, I don't collect art or know art or anything like that so the fact that I am blogging about this guy means I really really like his stuff.
While the in-laws were grocery shopping, I went poking around in the little shops around Princeville. There was a small art gallery tucked into one corner of the shopping center and one of their featured artists is Clark Little. Apparently he's fairly big time and he's been on the Today Show and all that which just shows how out of touch I am. I'm just glad I found him when I did.
Oh my god, I love these pictures. I think they're so incredible. I don't surf and never have and would probably drown if I were ever caught in waves like these but something about these pictures just make me stop and stare. I so wish I had the money to buy one of the big pictures but had to settle for the small $20 matted print. I really want his book -- it's a huge coffee table photo book with just picture after picture of shore break. It's $100 so maybe I'll just wait until my birthday and hint to the parents. Go check out his site and stare in awe. I'd love a huge Cast Away shot in our bedroom.

I've got lots more to blog about but am somewhat exhausted -- we got in last night at 11:30pm so I'm still trying to catch up on sleep.
Hope everyone had a happy Easter!

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Hoppy Easter!

Happy Easter! Here are a few of the Easter treats I made my son as well as nieces and nephews. It was a hit! Instead of Easter baskets that you don't know what to do with after Easter is over, I made bunny bags to put their treats in. Since all of them are 3 and under, I didn't want to put any candy so goldfish carrots and I sewed Peeps bunnies and eggs for the girls!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Fun While We Fly

Flying with my child stresses me out. We're flying to Hawaii this weekend and, while I can't wait to be in the sun and on the beach, I really wish they'd invent the whole "Beam me up, Scotty" technology that they had on Star Trek so we don't have to do a five hour plus airplane ride. I'm originally from Hawaii and my parents still live there so we fly there at least twice a year and you'd think it'd be old hat by now but it's not. Sometimes Go-chan does great and sometimes he does...not so great. This will be the first time he has his own seat while flying to Hawaii which I think will be WONDERFUL and my husband will be with us -- usually it's just me and Go-chan visiting Grandma and Grandpa -- so hopefully this should be smooth, flying. I have a bag of toys that I hide and bring out only for the airplane but I also had a couple ideas for some activities that I thought Go-chan would really enjoy. Of course I waited until the last minute and had to stay up late a couple of nights but it's worth it if they'll keep Go-chan occupied for an extra ten minutes.

The first is a slot box. Back in February I made Go-chan a box for his Valentines and he still plays with it, dumping out his letters and then sliding them back in through the little slot. I decided to make him a little one that we could pack in our carry on.

Small cardboard box w/ lid (I got mine from Joanns)
X-acto knife
Cardboard (not pictured. whoops.)

1) Cut a slot in the box top

2) Cut a piece of fabric, making sure it's large enough to fold down and cover the sides.

3) Cut out the slot in the fabric -- I positioned my box top on the wrong side of my fabric, traced the slot opening lightly with a pen and then cut it out -- and start mod-podging the fabric onto the box top.

4) To do the corners I cut a small, right triangular notch out of the fabric at the corner, making sure to line up the straight edge with the end of the box top. I then glued down the overlapping flap and then glued down the remaining side (see the 4th and 5th pictures above).
5) Once all your fabric is mod-podged on, let it dry and then apply another layer over the fabric to really seal it and make it durable (this IS for a two year old).6) Do the same for the box bottom. Let both pieces dry THOROUGHLY before putting the lid on -- at least a couple of days -- or you'll have to pry the top off. Not that this happened to me or anything...

Now, you could obviously stop right there and have your child use coins or old credit cards or postcard scraps or whatever to put in. But if you're crazy like me, you want to make something fun to slip in. So I made some little fabric squares.

7) Cut cardboard into squares, about a good half inch shorter than the slot in your box.

8) Cut your fabric into squares, small enough to fit into the box slot, two squares of each fabric. FYI, I used fleece, felt, and some random picnic print remnant.

9) Sew the two squares together with the smaller cardboard square sandwiched in the middle.

10) Give it to your two year old and watch his eyes light up!

The second thing I made is a little lace-up card. At our home preschool class we had an activity that involved lace-up pictures and Go-chan loved it -- he spent a good amount of time threading his lace through the holes and anything that makes him sit still is a plus.

Three or four sheets of cardstock
Hole punch

1) Cut your cardstock into whatever shape you want your lace-up card to be. I was in a rush so I just did a rectangle. You'll want several pieces of cardstock cut into the same shape (I used eight).

2) Use your hole punch to punch holes into one piece of cardstock. Use this piece as your "template" fur punching holes in all the other pieces. Obviously you need all the holes to line up when you stack the cardstock.

3) Mod-podge the layers together and then give the whole wad of paper another coating. Let it dry! (FYI, I first tried using some foam board I had on hand but my hole punch wouldn't work with it. I didn't have any good sturdy cardboard so I had to improvise. Obviously if you have sturdy cardboard and/or a Cropadile you can use that or even thicker board and skip all the mod-podging.)
4) Once it's dry, your paper stack should be pretty stiff. Mine got a little curved because of the mod-podge so I let it sit under a heavy book overnight and it straightened out.

5) Thread an old shoelace in and have at it!

Here's our whole airplane arsenal, including our newest additions. Stickers and coloring books are a given. The magna doodle has been a big hit in the past -- we like to write different letters and shapes. Go-chan loves to play with the syringe. He pulls it out then puts it back in, pulls it out, puts it back in. Who knew a syringe could be so mesmerizing? We use the tape to make funny faces. And the Leapfrog toy that lights up and makes noises and has lots of buttons to press. Hopefully this all works. It might be a moot point however since I'm afraid Go-chan might have an ear infection. I'm taking him to the doctor this afternoon -- cross your fingers! I'll let you all know how he does on the flight and if my homemade toys were a hit!

Monday, March 22, 2010

Family Tree Artwork

I am so proud of this one but, I can't lie, it wasn't my idea in the first place. I saw this project on one of the many blogs I peruse and was totally inspired to do my own. Of course, I had to tweak it a little to make it my own.
First I did a little sketching. I initially drew trees similar to the one in the original project but I then decided they weren't really my style. I thought I'd try to go more realistic but then realized, hey, I'm not that good a drawer. So I googled "picture of tree" just to see what came up. There were two that I really liked: The Plain Tree by Henri Matisse and The Tree of Life by Tim Parish. I played around and sketched both of them and ended up going with the Parish inspired one, mainly because it was easier and also because it gave a lot of room for writing family names.
I got two canvases, sketched my tree on, painted them brown -- I purposely left it streaky because I thought it looked cool and that way I could also still faintly see my sketch -- and then used black paint and a steady hand to paint in the tree. I won't lie, it took a loooooong time to do the curly, tapering branches. I had to buy a new, fine tipped brush because my old one wasn't holding a fine enough tip. I then cut out leaves from some green handmade paper and mod-podged them around the tree. Use a paint pen to fill in the names of the family, slap another couple layers of mod-podge on to seal the whole thing and, ta-da! My own art to hang in our bedroom! Love it to bits and pieces.I hung them over our bed which took several tries because I am HORRIBLE at hanging things. It always comes out crooked or uneven or too high or too low. My plan is to paint a coordinating green "frame" on the wall around it which I think will really make it pop. Mr. Cakes doesn't understand painting a frame (he said he's never heard of people doing that) to which I reply, "Please leave the decorating to me".

Home Depot Workshops

Home Depot offers a variety of free workshops, what I call make and takes!

On the first Saturday of the month, kids can attend a FREE workshop at The Home Depot. The workshops are designed for kids ages 5-12 and they must be accompanied by an adult. They are called “How-To Clinics” and they stress safety, do-it-yourself skills and they build confidence.

The Home Depot's Kids Workshops offer useful projects including the creation of toolboxes, fire trucks and mail organizers, as well as more educational projects, such as a window birdhouse, bughouse or Declaration of Independence frame kit.The workshops teach children do-it-yourself skills and tool safety, while at the same time helping to instill a sense of accomplishment. Additionally, this fun time allows for quality one-on-one time between adults and children.In addition to the newly constructed project kit, each child receives a kid-sized orange apron, similar to The Home Depot associates' aprons, and an achievement pin.

The next two workshops will be held on April 3rd (Butterfly House) and May 1 (Picket Fence Planter).

Home Depot also offers free "Do-It-Herself" workshops as part of the Home Improvement Club. The next “Do-It-Herself” workshop is Thursday, April 15th from 7 – 8:30 pm. The free workshop will feature the Martha Stewart Paint workshop.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Beers Need Sweaters Too

Yes, just the thing you never knew your beer needed -- a sweater! I had read that felted wool is a great natural insulator and I've seen other people make coozies out of felted wool so I figured it was my turn to try my hand at it. I was on a big sweater felting kick a few months ago so I have ridiculous amount of felted sweaters stuffed into my closet, begging to be turned into something incredible. I was able to whip up this quick beer sweater in just a night for a birthday gift. It's the perfect present for someone you know but don't know well but know well enough to know they like to drink beer.
First things first, you need a felted wool sweater. Felting a sweater is easy -- all you have to do is go down to Goodwill, find a couple of sweaters in colors you like, bring 'em home and wash them in hot water and a little detergent with a tennis ball for some friction. All the fibers shrink down and your sweater basically becomes felt. Here's a good tutorial for felting sweaters with lots of tips as far as what kind of sweater to pick and warnings about your washing machine and dryer. It's super easy. The hardest part is controlling yourself at Goodwill and not buying every wool sweater you can find. Well, that's the hardest part for me.
Once you have your felted wool, it's time to cut it up! I used one of Mr. Cakes's empty beer bottles that was sitting in our recycling bin to measure. I ended up cutting out a rectangle 10" long and 5" tall, giving lots of extra room length-wise. Keep in mind when measuring that you want the coozie to fit snugly around the bottle and that your felted wool stretches. I then cut out a circle for the bottom -- I used something just a smidge smaller than the beer bottle bottom, again because of the stretch factor.
Next I got out my needle and thread and sewed the two short ends of the rectangle together. I wrapped the felt around the beer bottle and pulled it tight (but not too tight) so I could see about where I wanted to put my seam. My piece of wool didn't have a "right side" -- both sides looked the same -- but if you use a sweater with a "right side" and an "inside-out side" then you want to sew the ends together with the "right side" on the inside. You get me? Because you'll be turning it inside out so the seam's on the inside and the "right side" is on the outside. Anyway, to stitch I used three strands of black embroidery floss, small stitches, and went over the seam several times to make sure it was tight since there'll be a lot of pulling at that seam every time someone slides a beer in. Trim the excess fabric along the seam, flip your little cuff of felt inside out and you can see your coozie taking shape.

Not flipped (see the seam on the left?)
Take your little circle of felt and stitch it on along the bottom. I was going to do it the same way I did the side seam so that the stitching wouldn't show but that made the bottom really bulky and lumpy which meant more potential for a party foul, ie a beer falling over which no one wants. So instead I stitched along the outside using a...I don't know what kind of a stitch this is called.
Now it's time to decorate! I used felt letters that I cut out using my Cricut and stitched them onto my coozie. Ta-da! Remember to trace the letters backwards so you don't see any pen marks when you stitch them on.
You can use so many things to decorate! Felt, embroidery, buttons, fabric paint, applique...I see myself making another beer sweater in the near future. One thing -- if I do letters again, I'll probably stitch them on at the very beginning, before I stitch the coozie itself together -- I think it'll be a lot easier. I also think I want to add little sleeves to the next one so it'll be a true beer sweater. A sweater for every beer!

Deal of the Week-Cricut Expression Machine

If you don't already have a Cricut, you must run out to the store and get one NOW! Seriously, it will save you a lot of time, frustration and heartache with many different projects. If you are an avid scrapbooker, it is a must have. They can be pretty pricey, depending on which one you are looking at getting. Cricut has three different models-Personal Electronic Cutter Machine, Cricut Create Machine, and the Cricut Expression Machine and soon they will be coming out with a Cricut Cake Personal Electronic Cutter Machine for baking enthusiasts.

The deal that I found is for the Cricut Expression Machine. This particular model usually sells for $350. However, Oh My Crafts is selling the Limited Edition Holiday Expression Machine along with 1 Storybook cartridge and 1 Accent Essentials for $249.97 and if you use coupon code GREEN (discount of $49.99) and choose the UPS Ground shipping ($13.28) at check out your grand total (after shipping) is $213.36! Now that is the best deal that I've seen thus far for the Cricut Expression Machine. Happy shopping!

As Jen had mentioned in an earlier post.
"If you don't have a Cricut, then you need to go out and buy one. Just kidding (kind of) -- you'll have to use your computer to find fonts and print the words out, trace them onto cardstock and then cut them out. Or make friends with someone with a Cricut. Side note: I LOVE MY CRICUT. It was my push present/Christmas gift (our son was born in December) and it took me a while to start using it but now that I have, it's the most fabulous thing ever. It makes so many projects so much easier."

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

My Wedding Cranes

Three years and twenty-two days ago, Mr. Cakes and I got married. And in my unbiased, completely impartial, totally objective opinion, it was AWESOME. I loved our wedding. More specifically, I loved our reception. A night of drinking and dancing and I'm the center of attention? Yes, please. It was definitely a labor of love -- I made the save the dates, invitations, favors, programs, place cards, centerpieces, and crossword puzzles (Yes, crossword puzzles. That's how I roll). I was so in my element! But my most favorite creation from our wedding is our cranes.
I'm half Japanese and the Japanese tradition (although I think it's now actually more popular in Hawaii, where I'm from, than it is in Japan) is for the bride to fold one thousand and one, let me repeat, ONE THOUSAND and ONE origami cranes for her wedding. It's supposed to show her patience, dedication, diligence, commitment, blahblahblahblah...or it's also just another reason to show off her mad crafting skills.
I knew that I wanted to do the thousand cranes for our wedding but I also knew that I didn't want to display them in the what has become the usual way. For one thing, those creations are amazing and beautiful but they're just really not our style. For another, those bad boys cost some major bucks -- I've seen as much $2000. What?! I wasn't shelling out that kind of coinage when I knew I could make something myself that I would love just as much if not more. That's how my frames o' cranes came about.
I got seven square shadowboxes at Ikea, and ordered online red origami paper in different prints (our colors were red and cream). Altogether I probably paid under $100 for everything. I wanted my cranes to be small so I ended up cutting my 3"x3"origami paper down 1.5"x1.5". Then I started folding. We had just over a year between getting engaged and getting married so I had a lot of time to fold which was good. I think it took me probably four or five months of folding cranes to get to 1000. Folding a crane is pretty easy -- folding a thousand, still easy, just tedious. Folding a thousand the size of a quarter...I like a challenge. I suggest having a lot of reality shows to watch in the evening while you fold to help pass the time.
When I had all my cranes folded, I cut a piece of black card stock to fit the shadow boxes and then proceeded to glue every single last one of those cranes in rows. I was also insane and decided to number them as I went so, if you look really closely at the pictures, you can see little gold numbers scribbled to the bottom right of every crane. I tried to have Mr. Cakes fold a couple cranes but, to my nitpicky eyes, his cranes were not worthy so I did them all myself. I did, however, have him him fold one -- the very last, 1000 and first crane, in big gold paper and had that one framed by itself:

Isn't that cute? In the end, I think they came out fantastic and they are being displayed proudly in our living room. It's almost like it was fate because the seven frames fit perfectly in the little space right above our main window. I had the suggestion that I should have tried to spell something out or designed some kind of a pattern with the different cranes which would have upped the insanity factor by a few more notches but would have been really cool.
What about you guys? Anyone else have cool crafts or projects they did for their wedding?

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

I hope everyone's having a great St Patrick's Day! We didn't do anything too exciting -- I had a path of "gold coins" cut out from paper leading from his room down to the living room where I hid his pot of goodies. It was simple and Go-chan loved picking up the coins as he went. The first thing he said when he saw his pot was "Football!" His daddy will be so happy.

Monday, March 15, 2010

March is National Craft Month

March has been designated National Craft Month by the Craft and Hobby Association (CHA). Craft stores around the country will offer special classes, demonstrations, tips and projects to get customers involved. Craft and hobby retailers nationwide will offer a variety of fun-filled craft activities to introduce families and kids to the joys of crafting.

Here are a few places you might want to check out:
*Jo-Ann Fabrics and Craft Stores
Jo-Ann Fabric and Craft Stores is inspiring creativity with special in-store demonstrations and exciting new projects and products to celebrate National Craft Month. To introduce customers to new products and techniques, Jo-Ann will hold the following demonstrations in its large format stores:
March 13: Provocraft Cricut and Gypsy papercrafting machines, Fiskars papercrafting tools
March 20: Yudu Personal Screenprinter, Plaid Simply Screen
March 27: Easter Foam projects

Michaels, North America’s largest arts and crafts specialty retailer, celebrates National Craft Month in March with weekly in-store demonstrations, workshops and a new series of how-to webisodes.
Michaels National Craft Month events include:
Saturday, March 6 (10 a.m. – 1 p.m.): Nick and Nora yarn doll demonstration with Vanna’s Choice(R) Lion Brand(R) Yarn. Cost: FREE
Sunday, March 7 (1 p.m. – 5 p.m.): Art workshop for customers to make decorative canvas panels for the home using paints and brushes. Cost: FREE workshop with purchase of 3-pack canvas panels.
Saturday, March 13 (1 p.m. – 5 p.m.): Beading workshop where customers can make and take four new unique jewelry pieces. Cost: FREE
Sunday, March 14 (1 p.m. – 3 p.m.): Customers will learn to transform an ordinary 3″ clay pot and saucer into a garden ladybug. Cost: FREE workshop with purchase of $1 clay pot.
Saturday, March 20 (1 p.m. – 3 p.m.): T-shirt decorating with fashion paint and Michaels Birthday Bash celebrating the “It’s My Birthday” kids’ party program. Cost: FREE workshop with purchase of t-shirt.
Sunday, March 21 (1 p.m. – 3 p.m.): Easter decor workshop for customers to learn to make an egg-stravagant Easter chick inside a craft egg. Cost: FREE workshop with purchase of craft egg. Saturday, March 27 (10 a.m. – 1 p.m.): Kids can create spring projects like flowers with new Crayola(R) Model Magic(R) Presto Dots. Cost: FREE
Sunday, March 28 (1 p.m. – 3 p.m.): Wilton(R) cookie decorating demonstration. Cost: FREE

*Home Shopping Network
HSN is airing a month-long series of special scrapbooking, crafts and sewing shows to celebrate National Craft Month in March, the network said Wednesday. Throughout the month, exciting new products from some of the biggest names in the business, including Provo Craft, Singer, Brother and Anna Griffin, will debut on HSN and

Personal Family Squares

I made these a while ago and have gotten quite a few compliments on them so I thought I'd share it with all of you. I really love the way it came out and it was super easy -- I think I made all three of our squares in one evening. Granted, I stayed up til midnight, but still, it was one night.

All you need is:
Canvas (I used 8x8s)
Cricut (or scissors and some patience)

First you've got to brainstorm! Think up some words for each member of your family -- adjectives, phrases, things they love, things the like to do, nicknames, etc. I had the hardest time thinking up words for myself so had to ask Mr. Cakes and other friends and family for ideas.

I really wanted the letters to pop so I painted the canvas black -- obviously you can use whatever colors you want to go with your decor. To figure out spacing and how big to make the letters, I cut out a piece of paper the same size as my canvas and just wrote the words out in pencil so I could erase and play around with it and see around how big I wanted which words. (PS, the big black paper at the top of the canvas is my "crafty" way of protecting my son's and husband's privacy. I couldn't figure out how to add a black bar to a photo.)

I then used my Cricut to cut out the different words. If you don't have a Cricut, then you need to go out and buy one. Just kidding (kind of) -- you'll have to use your computer to find fonts and print the words out, trace them onto cardstock and then cut them out. Or make friends with someone with a Cricut. Side note: I LOVE MY CRICUT. It was my push present/Christmas gift (our son was born in December) and it took me a while to start using it but now that I have, it's the most fabulous thing ever. It makes so many projects so much easier.

Once I had all my words cut out, I laid them out on the painted canvas to make sure that my spacing was right and that I liked the layout and that words didn't blend together or anything. I really tried to put different fonts next to each other so that there was a clear distinction between words and also tried to leave a pretty clear space between words for the same reason. When I had the words laid out just right I used my little paintbrush and Mod-Podge to glue the letters to the canvas and then gave the whole thing a couple good coats of Mod-Podge to seal it all in. Let it dry, hang it up, and you've got great, personal decor!