October 31, 2011

Pumpkin Carving and a Birthday Party

Happy Halloween! More importantly, happy birthday Dad!

We had a really fun time celebrating Dad's birthday on Saturday night. Mom bought a bunch of pumpkins, and we spent a good chunk of the evening carving them.

For anyone who's looking for a last minute pumpkin carving template, here's the site where we got ours. (Mine says "BOO" and Charlie's is the wizard. He's way more talented than me.)

Dad did the cool candle, and Daniel made his own eyeball template:

Some more photos from the evening:

I love little details. Can you tell? :)

There were a lot of pictures with knives like this. A little creepy. I'll spare you the rest.

However, this next one involves a fork, so I think it passes muster:

Charlie, the pumpkin pro, at work.

Mom didn't have a pumpkin to carve. But she does have some cute slippers:

Of course, I made everyone save their pumpkin seeds so I could roast them. Does anyone else do this? They're so good!

We also busted out of our buster bar mold and ate banana split trifle instead.

Enjoy your evening!

October 30, 2011

Inspiration: Save It, Save It, Save It!

I'm talking about pictures. Pictures you find in magazines, in Pottery Barn catalogues, on web searches, in blogs... any image that you can tear out and file or right click and throw in a folder. Save it!

Maybe you already do this. If not, start! I look at a lot (a lot!) of home/DIY/decor/design photos. It's one of my favorite activities. I'm sad to say that I look forward to looking through my latest issues of BHG more than picking up Sherlock Holmes Volume II. And I love Sherlock Holmes.

It's really quite simple. Save any pictures that you like. For any reason.

You might like the duvet on the bed, or how the console table is styled, or the paint color used, or the over all theme of the room. I've saved pictures because I like the lighting. If there's anything that you like, that inspires you, or that you want to remember for future reference, save it! I've saved pictures that I don't even know why I like them. I just do, for some reason. And that's reason enough!

I often think I'll remember that good idea of that thing I found on etsy that I could totally make myself, but guess what: I don't. Because there's 206 other ideas like that jumbling around in my brain. So if it's filed in a binder on your shelf or in a folder on your computer, it's now saved and waiting for your perusal.

Here's the random assortment of pictures I've saved from the last week or two:

Not a lot of continuity. But the only continuity needed is this: there's something that I like about each photo. I like the quote on the sign, the vibe of the bedroom, the teal gradient on the dresser. If I'm in creative mood but have no set ideas, I look through my 281 (and growing!) Picasa folder of inspiring images.

So start saving!

October 22, 2011

DIY Subway Art Tutorial

Happy Weekend! I have a fun, inexpensive, and easy project for you: subway art!

There are many tutorials floating around the blogosphere. Some are are incredibly simple and some are incredibly time consuming, frustrating, and carpo-tunnel inducing. I actually tried BOTH ways, and can you figure out which one worked best? :)

Here's what you need to make a-la-easy subway art:
  •  Wood Board (Whatever size you want your sign to be. Mine was about 2' x 3')
  • Modge Podge
  • Paper print off of your sign (the same size as your board). I got mine printed at Office Max for a whopping $4.00.
I created my sign in Publisher. I first created a custom size document (2' x 3') the same size as my board so that all of the text would fit perfectly. I played around with fonts, sizes, and spacing to get the look I was going for. Then I filled in the background with black, and kept the words white.

I put my document on a flash drive, brought if over to Office Max, and had it printed out. Yes, they can print documents this size! And if you're using only black and white ink, it's super cheap.

I then covered my board with a thin coat of modge podge and laid the paper sign down on top of the wood. Be VERY careful- you only get one shot at this! I had Charlie help me lay out the paper and make sure everything was lined up.

Try to flatten out any bubbles or folds in the paper (this is inevitable- Charlie actually rolled the sign down with a rolling pin! It seemed to help). Some bumps and folds are okay, hardly show, and give the sign a "rustic" quality.

Add two more coats of Modge Podge over the sign to seal the paper. Wellah! You're done!

Charlie put some screws in the back and hung a wire between them for easy hanging. I'm lovin' it!

When I first ran across this way to make subway art, I turned up my nose at it and thought that a piece of paper modge podged to a board would look crappy. (Newsflash: it looks great!) I originally tired the "real" (ie:  time consuming, frustrating, and carpo-tunnel inducing) way to make my sign. At this point I need to put in a disclaimer:

DISCLAIMER: There is nothing wrong with going this route. It is the more common and "normal" way to make DIY art. Many fine bloggers have attempted this way with fabulous results, and they are my subway sign superheros.

Here's a wonderful tutorial if you want to go the ol' "paint and sticker letters" way.

Originally, I was in trouble before I started. I used a  laminate board and the paint had nothing to stick to. After 12-15 hours of cutting out minuscule letters, peeling off the sticker backing, pain-stakingly lining every single letter and word up on my board, and painting it all twice, I sat down with HUGE anticipation. This is how it came out looking:

And an up close shot:

Ah! Terrible!

I may or may not have sat dejectedly at the kitchen table with cramped hands and few frustrated tears rolling down my cheeks and spilling onto my sign. (How emo of me.) Such is the life of a DIYer. It can't all go your way.

So seriously folks, the paper modge podge sign is the way to go. And if you want to do it authentically, start with a board that will actually absorb paint!

PS. I'm linking this projects up with Home Stories A to Z's linky party. Check it out!

October 20, 2011

A New View on Halloween

Our church sends our a weekly newsletter called the Star (or, if you get it via email, it's the eStar:).

There was a great, thought provoking article on Halloween. It's definitely worth the five minutes it takes to read.

Some snippets:

"What if the main issue became whether our enjoyment of Jesus and his victory over Satan and the powers of darkness might incline us to think less about our private enjoyments and more about how we might love others?"

"What if we capitalized on the opportunity to take a step forward in an ongoing process of witnessing to our neighbors, co-workers, and extended families about who Jesus is and what he accomplished at Calvary for the wicked like us?"

I'm definitely challenged by David Mathis to think outside of my timid, self-aware box and to look for opportunities to be bold for Jesus.

October 17, 2011

North Shore Trip

This weekend my family took a trip to a beautiful cabin in Tofte, Minnesota. Tofte is about 60 minutes northeast of Two Harbors, and 30 minutes southwest of Grand Marais. It was relaxing, beautiful, and VERY cold and windy.

We bummed around Grand Marais and ate at The Angry Trout:

We celebrated a birthday:

No, that isn't birthday cake. It's buster bar (oreo layer, ice cream layer, peanut layer, fudge layer- also known as manna from heaven). This is what my family does instead of birthday cake, and it is much, much better, my friends.

We did a lot of this:

And this:

We had magnificent views out of the window:

Doesn't Lake Superior look like it's silver?

We hiked around Temperance River:

We found some rocks:

And juggled some rocks:

My family is pretty great, too:

Charlie took this last picture of Daniel. I can't take credit :)

Here we are. This would be a potential Christmas card picture if it weren't for the Napoleon Dynamite Butterfly Hands.

What fall or winter trips do you have coming up?

October 10, 2011

Chalkboard Labels

We've got big glass canisters sitting on our kitchen counter that I've always thought would look cute with chalkboard labels. So yesterday I made some. This project is incredibly easy and incredibly cheap.

Here's what you need:
  • Some type of sticky label. A name tag would work perfectly.
  • Chalkboard paint (I used spray paint)

Now spray paint the labels (obviously:). Let them dry for about an hour, and PRESTO. You just made yourself some chalkboard labels.

I found it easiest to write on the labels before I pulled of the backing and stuck them onto the jars. The great thing is if you need to wash the jars, or decide you don't like the labels, you can peel them right off. I figured if they leave a sticky residue, that's why Goo Gone was invented. No harm done.

There you have it. Practically free chalkboard labels.

October 5, 2011

Fall Photoshoot

I'm trying to gear up for a few "portfolio building" photo shoots. Yesterday I went to a park a few blocks from our house to practice shooting in manual mode (as opposed to automatic), using the viewfinder (as opposed to looking at the screen), and to play around with focus and depth of field. The more I use my camera, the more I love it! Here are my favorites:

Isn't God a creative artist?