Monday, September 15, 2014

Paper Plate Masks and Using What You Got

paper plate mask
Today we are kicking it old school. Let me take you back, way, way back to your elementary days, the days when ordinary items were the craft supply of choice. Things like card board tubes, paper lunch sacks, and the humble paper plate, could hold hours of fun and creativity.  Those days can still be yours my friend.

Behold a chic version of a kid classic, made with only colored paper, Elmer's school glue, string, and a paper plate. Scissors are the only tool you really need, although I used some circle punches I had lying around. Please don't go buy a circle punch. They are handy, but the point of this craft is to USE WHAT YOU HAVE.

It is so easy to run to the store and buy more stuff, especially hobby/craft stuff. Trust me. I know. But unless you will use up what you are buying quickly or will use it repeatedly in the next year, forget about it. Resist. See if your kids don't have more fun making do with what's at home.

My kids had a blast helping fashion and fringe the paper feathers on the perimeter of this mask. They also helped me place and glue down pieces. Now they are feeling inspired by my "mom" mask and can't wait to make their own. The best part is that my kids are young enough, that they will probably spend hours pretending with their finished masks. Older kids might have fun using their masks for a party or halloween costume. Or maybe they could be part of the costuming for a kid directed play? The sky is really the limit.

If you want more awesome mask inspiration, check out My mask was inspired this mask I saw in the October 2009 issue of Martha Stewart Living magazine. (I periodically check old magazines out at the library, especially as holidays approach. They offer tons of great ideas and inspire even more.)

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Painting the Front Door and Why Renters Should Care about Curb Appeal

We are renters and we count ourselves very fortunate to be in the lovely little ranch we are in now. It is just the perfect fit for us--a great yard, lovely neighbors, enough space, and even some room to grow. To top all that off, we have the best landlords! A renter's life doesn't get too much better (unless of course you have two bathrooms). However, the one thing that really could use more love is the curb appeal.

Ranch style houses aren't known for interesting architectural detail like a victorian or colonial. Ours is very plain and everything, except the lawn, is brown. Talk about drab. Here's a visual:

ranch house paint door

Pretty flat huh? And this is with plants. It used to be muddy brown dirt in that planting bed to match our muddy brown house.  I have been itching to break up all that brown for almost two years. The most renter-friendly solution? Paint the front door (provided your landlord will let you). What easier way to give your home a little punch? As a renter, I can't change the architecture, but a little paint is feasible and cost effective. So finally, I painted the front door. Want to see?

Paint front door green

Ta dah! Isn't it lovely? It isn't the bold red I was originally thinking as the husband vetoed that one, but it isn't brown either. (Insert satisfied smile here.) I am glad we went green because our landlords left the color choice up to us. (I told you they were the best.) Red might have been too much for them, but who doesn't love green? It's an easy color to live with.

There are lots of great door painting tutorials out there. I found perusing ones like this very helpful.

Next up on my curb appeal mission are the shutters. They are looking pitiful. Since our landlords are thinking about replacing the ancient windows it is the perfect time for the shutters to be resurrected from their dingy, faded existence.

Now to all of you out there who are thinking, "Why would you put all that effort and even some money into a house you don't own?" I say to you: this house is our home for now, even though we don't own it. I want to improve our neighborhood.  This is a way of giving back, to leave a place better than you found it.

We are the only rental on our end of the street and maybe the entire street. All our immediate neighbors have been working hard on improving their curb appeal. Why not join in? When you invest in your community and in your neighborhood, the emotional and social benefits far outweigh the costs. Besides, these little projects are a great opportunity for us to learn and prepare for homeownership.

I am grateful for our landlords. We haven't always had it so good. I know a lot of renters still don't have it this good. To the landlords of the world I shout, "Be cooler and take care of your properties!" Maybe then you'll get a green door too.

green door
We have got to do something about that light.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Travel Art Inspired by Ikea BILD Poster

Have you seen this great London poster at Ikea? I love it. For $12, I just might buy it too, but a friend of mine wasn't crazy about the silhouettes. I completely dig the silhouettes, but her dislike sparked an idea. What if you personalized a map with you're own silhouettes? You could have little cutout silhouettes of you and your travel buddies sight seeing on any map of your choice. Maybe something like this...
London skyline tube map
Silhouettes of Me and London, Superimposed on a Map of the Tube
Are you catching my vision yet?

Or you could customize a city skyline collage featuring your favorite sites. Each of the silhouettes, above and below (except the London Eye), were made using my own travel photos. (In case you're curious, you can find the London Eye graphic here and the cloud graphics here).
DIY London Skyline Art
These two pieces weren't too difficult to do digitally. A few photos, a little image editing software, and you're in business. I whipped up mine just using Microsoft Word and the techniques in this post. Of course, you could do it the handmade way too. After all, there is something wonderful about creating with your hands. *sigh.*

For digital collages, you'll want to keep in mind image quality and size. Some of my old travel pictures were a bit pixelated so I probably won't be able to print this art bigger than an 8x10. That's okay with me, but it's a far cry from the Ikea version which is over 2 ft. x 3 ft.! Now that's some serious wall coverage.
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