November 29, 2010

Try Shutterfly Photo Cards

I have used Shutterfly for holiday cards, birthday announcements for my kids, regular photo prints and enlargements, and photo books.  I find the quality at Shutterfly to be great, the service and shipping to be fast, and the product options endless.  Many of my friends upload their photos to Shutterfly as a "safe keeping".  Then, they are sure to get them printed easily and add to their baby books, frames, and dad's office.

As I said before, I ordered my Christmas photo cards early this year.  However, we send out a lot of cards and I had to skimp on my list a little.  So, for the second round, I like this simple and cute photo card from Shutterfly!  

They have so many cute cards...after looking through, here are some of my favorites:
Bright Merry Story Card, Cranberry Joy Card, Glitter Glamour Joy Card, and the Love 2010 Card.

You can choose a card with one photo, several photos, and even one with room for text and updates about the year's happenings in your family.

Besides your photo cards,

you can find other great gift ideas like wall calendars,

or photo mugs,

or even birthday invitations and announcements!

The options are endless at Shutterfly!  Go ahead, take a peek and enjoy browsing around.  Remember, Thanksgiving has passed and Christmas is on its way soon, so get your cards printed now!

If you are a blogger and you'd like to share, you can receive 50 free cards from Shutterfly by entering here.

November 28, 2010

Grocery List

Unfortunately, I am not good at meal planning.  I know it helps with shopping and the stress of "what's-for-dinner".  I'm trying to get better at it - and limit the number of times I visit the store during the week.

One thing that has helped me is this weekly meal planning sheet from Aby Garvey at Simplify 101.  The list has a place for your daily schedule that helps you see how the day's activity is going to affect your meal plan.  We live a crazy life (as all of you do, too!) so this is a helpful feature for me!  Continue on to read her "10 Tips to Simplify Meal Planning" for more great tricks!

Right now, Aby is offering a free one-on-one organizing session with a lucky winner from her blog!  Check it out and leave her a comment to WIN!

November 23, 2010

(Un)Crafty - Lamp Shade Redo

The lamps in my house have had many lives.  I think lamps are expensive and hard to choose.  All of my lamps have come from clearance somewhere and have then been given some sort of fix-it treatment or makeover.  The lamp in our living room is the latest revamp.  I painted the base with a spray primer and then a classic gray gloss coat.  Next, all I had to do was recover the shade.  I followed Alissa's tutorial for covering a lampshade.  It was easy and turned out so great that now I want to recover every single lamp in the house!

It started with my shade - in terrible condition from many-a-redo - and just enough fabric.

My crafty sister helped me because she has done lamps in her house, too.  We traced the shade on paper, then used that as a pattern to cut the fabric.

We used this spray adhesive to stick the fabric to the shade.  It was so easy!  We sprayed the fabric with the adhesive, then just smoothed it over the shade.  Seriously easy.

I trimmed the edges down.  Then I took the hot glue gun to the edges to fold them over nice and tight.

The final step for me was to add this bias tape (available in every color!) as a detail around the top and bottom edges.  This is totally optional.  I just used fabric tape (called Res-Q Tape) - a double sided tape especially for fabric from JoAnn's to stick the tape to the shade.

Here you can see the detail of the bias tape.

The finished product.

I am so happy with the new life this has given my super old super cheap lamp.

And she looks pretty in my living room!  Hooray!

November 20, 2010

(Un)Crafty - Glass Rock Magnets

This is a truly uncrafty project - perfect for people like me!  Last weekend we were in a snowstorm and it was perfect for staying in and crafting away.  So we did!  I was with my mom and sister (helpful to be around super crafty people when I'm less-than-crafty) and we did zillions of these glass rock magnets.

Tools you will need:
- glass filler rocks (available at Michaels and other craft stores)
- a clear gel adhesive (like Martha Stewart clear gel adhesive - available at Michaels)
- hot glue gun
- magnets
- scrapbook paper
- scissors

Glass rocks have one domed side and one flat side.  Lay them out flat and get ready to trace.

Since each rock is unique in size, I traced one at a time, then cut around the traced circle and left the corresponding rock on top.  That way, I didn't lose which rock fit on which paper.  Once I had several, I cut them and glued them all together.  As you can see, my son had a little play-doh fun going on at the same time.

Once the paper is cut, apply a small amount of the gel adhesive and press together.

Once the adhesive seems dry, you can apply the magnets.

Use your hot glue gun to attach a magnet to the back (the flat side) of each rock.

I really love these magnets!  It was such a fun, easy project!  They look so lovely and decorative on my magnetic board.

These magnets are so inexpensive, you could easily make seasonal sets to give as gifts!  I think these might be great teacher gifts...

November 19, 2010

Starbucks Doubleshot Cupcakes

Ok...these are the first cupcakes I have ever made from scratch.  It was a big deal.  They are nothing short of amazing.  If you are a coffee-lover like me!  They have a great consistency, are soft, and not too sweet.  The recipe is from Hope Studios.  I am copying the recipe on this post, but its a little less decadent than her recipe that includes buttercream frosting, caramel, and chocolate covered coffee beans.  Find her exact recipe here.

Starbucks Doubleshot Cupcakes

1 2/3 cups (8 1/2 ounces; 240 g) plus 2 T sifted all-purpose flour
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa
1/4 t. baking soda
1 t baking powder
1/4 t salt
1 cup (2 sticks, 230 g) lightly salted butter (not margarine), at room temperature
1 1/2 cups (10 1/2 oz; 300 g) granulated sugar
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1 small can Starbuck's Double Shot Espresso and Cream (6.9 oz can)
1 t. vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Measure flour, cocoa, baking powder and soda, and salt into a bowl and whisk to mix. Set aside.

Cream together the butter and sugar until smooth. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating after each addition.

Alternately, add the dry ingredients and the Starbuck's Double Shot, beating after each addition, beginning and ending with flour. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and the beaters. Stir in the vanilla extract.

Spoon batter into the cupcake papers, 3/4 full. Bake in the preheated oven for 20 to 25 minutes. Cool completely.

Thanks to Hope Studios for great recipes...I'll be trying this Cinnamon Streusel Cake soon!

Thanksgiving Centerpiece

This is what's planned for our house today:

Photo from Mommyapolis
I love this little craft from Mommyapolis.  I've been wanting to do this with my boys and we have the perfect little pumpkin!  I figure this is a good time to get our Thanksgiving centerpiece all set to go!  Can you believe the holiday is next week?!

November 8, 2010

(Un)Crafty - Chalkboard Charger

Maybe I'm becoming a little less "uncrafty" because lately I feel inclined to make-something-out-of-something-else.  A little confusing.  For example, I found this metal charger on clearance at Target a while ago and knew it could be something neat...

I liked the circular shape and the cut-outs.

It was even more on $2.06 or something.

I had bought this chalkboard spray paint on clearance at Michaels and I was just waiting for a chance to use it.  So, I scuffed up the metal, wiped it off with a wet rag and primed it.  
Total time: 5 minutes or less!

Then I sprayed a few coats of chalkboard paint all over the charger.  I think I found out why the paint was on clearance: the nozzle drips and leaves yucky blotches all over the piece.  But, I plan to sand it and try a couple new coats for a more even finish.

I think I mentioned before, but I'm not really crazy about wreaths, which is why I love this chalkboard charger on my front door for now!  Total time for this project: about 30 minutes (more for each coat of spray paint applied).  This piece can also hold magnets and be used in many placed throughout my home!  Definitely worth it!

November 2, 2010

(Un)Crafty - Subway Art

A few months ago I embarked on the journey of creating my first piece of subway art.  You've seen all kinds of subway art all over Blogland lately and I was dying to try it on my own.  Well, the journey was not exactly blissful.  This quickly became the project from you-know-where.  Yikes.

I started with visions of creating something like Vivienne or Ashley at Lil' Blue Boo.  In the end, mine doesn't really look like either of theirs...oh well.

I started with a simple word document on my Mac.  I added words that are meaningful for my family in different sizes, but all in the same font.  I spaced the words so that each line filled the page to the edge.  I printed the page on a regular letter size piece of paper and then took it to FedEx Office (formerly FedEx Kinkos) and had it enlarged to the size of my canvas (24 x 30).  I spray painted my canvas white.  Then I used spray adhesive to attach the large paper to contact paper and cut the paper into strips, as you can see below.

I laid the strips out on my canvas to check the spacing.

Then I marked where each line should be and where each letter should be.

The next step was to cut out each letter.  It took me forever.  I would recommend a different strategy!  It took lots of patience and a sharp scissor to get all those little letters nicely cut.  Keep in mind, everything had to be done while the kids were napping, after bedtime, or some other rare time when I was "off the clock".

Finally I got all the letters cut out and stuck on the canvas.  Because I attached the paper to contact paper, I was able to pull the backing off and stick the contact paper to my canvas.  Here's the bad news: it didn't really work for me.  The sticky part of the contact paper didn't want to adhere to the canvas - I don't know why.  So, I ended up spraying each letter with a removable spray adhesive (3M, of course) and sticking it on the lines I drew.  Even with the spray adhesive, the letters weren't adhering as well as I wanted.

Here you can see the letters stuck to the canvas and the original word document I used.

My intent was to get the letters stuck on really well and then roller-paint a dark grey color over the whole canvas.  I envisioned nice neat and clean words on the canvas.  However, I could tell right after I stuck the letters on that they wouldn't stay stuck with a roller going over them.  Bummer.  By this point, I was desperate to finish the project and checked the cabinet for spray paint.  I had a full can of black, so I decided it was my best bet.  I sprayed the thing like crazy and was happy with how easy it was to get it covered so quick.

After the spray paint...

and with the letters pulled off.

The lines were really not clean, so I tried to touch up the edges with a white paint pen, but it was just too daunting of a task.  There was so much to do and I didn't have any patience left.  So I started thinking of what I could do to rough it up a little and make it look like I wasn't trying for it to be so perfect.  Keep in mind, its a canvas, so it pretty delicate.  Sanding wasn't really an option.

I decided to use a metallic glaze to see if I could give it a more vintage look.  This is the result.  It looks like a white-washed canvas after several coats of the glaze and then wiping it off with a wet rag for texture.  I feel like the project was a failure so the canvas is hiding on a wall in our bedroom for now.  Hubby says he really likes it and he likes the white-washed look much better than the contemporary look of the black and white.  I would like to see if I could get Hubby to build a vintage-y frame for the canvas, then maybe it would look more complete.

Overall, this project was SO MUCH WORK...especially for feeling a little like it failed.  But, as always, its fun to have a project and see it through to completion, even if its a different result than I first desired.  For someone UNCRAFTY, like ME, I think my next subway art venture will include vinyl letters or chipboard - something less committal!

If you would like more information about the products used or more about my method (and my recommendations for changing the process, contact me!).

November 1, 2010

Some days are like that...

Today was just one of those days.

You know what I mean, right, mamas?

We all have them.  For some reason, sometimes its hard to admit that we have them.

Let me explain:

My youngest woke up super early which means its going to be a tough morning from the start.  My oldest woke up wanting his Daddy (who was already at an early breakfast meeting).
We tried to run errands and get to storytime at the library in the chilly early morning weather.  We accomplished both but only with both kids crying: sometimes at the same time, sometimes at different times.  I was getting those looks.  You know, the ones like: "What is wrong with those children"?
Luckily both kiddos napped well but I accomplished almost nothing while I tried to clean up our disaster of a house: laundry, dishes, toys, art projects, Halloween treats, you-get-the-picture.
Then I ran around town with my screaming one-year-old to print photos and buy poster board for a project.  The big boy was with my hubby for a quick visit to the hockey team's captain practice.
When we got home, hubby left for work and big boy had an accident in his pants (and on the floor).  Oops.  Then I stepped in little boy's dirty diaper (in the bathroom, thank goodness) while I was giving the boys an early bath.
While getting their picnic dinners ready, I spilled yogurt all over the kitchen (yep: cabinets, appliances and floor).  I'll be scrubbing up after the kids are in bed.  Yay.
Hubby is gone tonight until who-knows-when.  Oh well.
Let's hope bedtime is a breeze (yeah, right).

It was just one of those days.

But I'm okay with that because I know we all have them.  Sometimes I feel like I have failed when I have a day like that.  But what do we tell our kids when something doesn't turn out just right??  We smile and say, "Sometimes that happens".

I'm giving myself the same grace.

I'm telling myself, "Some days are like that".  I've had them before and I'm sure to have them again (LOTS!).

A day like that doesn't mean I am a failure, it means I am human.  I am a mama.  And happy to be a mama....

even with days like that.

Our picnic dinners happen sometimes when hubby is working late and consist of: deli meat, cheese, crackers, fruit and yogurt prepared by Mom.  They get to eat at the kids' table downstairs and watch a kids' show while I get a moment of detox!  Win, win!