Thursday, September 25, 2014

Nature Party Table Runner

I used my Silohuette Cameo to make many of the items for my son's recent nature themed birthday party. One of my favorite projects is the table runner pictured below.

The boys are playing "guess how many critters are in the jar."
 Since its a bit hard to see the runner with all of the party decorations on top of it, I took a couple of pictures of it at home to share with you. 



I used basic quilting techniques to trim the green fabric with the brown and chevron fabrics. If you have never sewn something like this before, this is an easy to follow tutorial.  If you are not a sewer, you could use seam tape to hem the edges of your runner. Although the fabric border looks nice, its not necessary. You do not need to know how to sew to apply the animal tracks. You will need a Silhouette Cameo or similar product. Before cutting the tracks out of brown fabric with my Silhouette,  I ironed Heat'n Bond Ultra Hold to the back of it. I left the paper backing on while cutting. 


After cutting I peeled the Heat n'bond paper backing off and ironed the prints on to the runner. That's it. It was super easy and the kids loved trying to identify the tracks (deer, bear, bird, and raccoon).  

If you love this runner, but don't feel like or have the tools to make your own, you can purchase this one via my Etsy shop



Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Campfire Cake How-to



There was lots of inspiration for this cake to be found on Pinterest. These two were my favorites:

via Shower of Roses 

via Hostess With the Mostess
Instead of candy or cookie, I used fondant to make my logs and fire. The rest of the cake (two stacked 9" rounds) are covered with chocolate buttercream icing. To make the logs, I baked a box of Betty Crocker cake mix (my cake making go-to) in my meatloaf pan.  I am sure there is a more technical name for this pan, but you get the idea. 


After taking the cake loaf out of the pan, I cut it in half - lengthwise. Next I trimmed the edges with a serrated knife to round it out a bit. I cut four 3 1/2" long logs out of the two long peices. I wrapped each log in fondant colored with brown food coloring gel. Quick tip: I've found the best way to color fondant is to mix it with food coloring in a stand mixer using a pastry hook. I trimmed the fondant on the ends of the log using a utility knife. After the logs were placed on top of the cake - in an "X" shape with a hole in the middle - I painted on the lines of the log using a paint brush and food coloring gel slightly diluted with water. 

I also used fondant to make the flames. This was a total experiment - thankfully it worked. I rolled out white fondant to approximately 1/4" thickness - maybe a little thinner. I used my utility knife to cut out flame shapes. I cut each flame individually. Unfortunately I didn't take a picture but the illustration below shows what the flames looked like. I laid the flames on a cutting board dusted with corn starch and let them dry for a couple of days. 



To color the flames I used Wilton Color Mist. I had never used this product before so I didn't know what to expect.  I'm please to report that it worked really well. I used red, orange, and yellow mist to color my flames. I used multiple colors on some flames and as promised the product created an airbrushed look. 



I did not insert the flames into the cake until the party. I was afraid that the moisture from the cake would cause the fondant flames to soften and droop. This did not happen and they stood up perfectly.  to stand up the flames, I simply pressed them in the cake between the logs. 

The cake looked really cool when I lit the candle and dimmed the lights.  You know you've made something cool when you can instantly quiet a room of mostly 6 and 7 year old boys.


Monday, September 22, 2014

A Nature Themed 7th Birthday

My little nature loving boy was super excited when I asked him if he wanted to have his birthday at  Brookside Nature Center, one of the many fantastic nature centers in the DC area. He was even more excited when I told him that he and his friends would get to meet and touch real live frogs, snakes and turtles.

I had a lot of fun creating the decorations, cakes and favors for this party. I plan to post how-to posts for some of the more complicated projects (table runner, cake, trail sign, and backpacks) in the next couple of weeks.


The nature center has a great mural in the party room that provided the perfect backdrop for the party decorations. They also provided the cute bird tablecloths (below).




Other than the cake, the food was very easy to prepare. Since the party was at 10 AM, I decided to serve "heavy snacks" including trail mix, marshmallows dipped in semi sweet chocolate, little sausages, and strawberries. Because the party was at a nature center I tired to be as green as possible by using biodegradable or reusable products. 




I made little fact sheets to add to the educational value of the party. They also added some color to the big party table. 


Although, the nature center provide a very educational and fun program!




Before leaving each guest received a little backpack containing a pencil and a nature journal. 




Friday, September 5, 2014

She's So Fancy

I finally finished my most recent project for AWider Circle (AWC). As you may recall from past posts, I'm working with AWC to spruce up donated furniture items that they distribute to DC area families in need. This is my dream volunteer gig!

I've set a goal for myself of completing one piece a month for the organization. I picked up my latest project, a child's table and chair, at the beginning of the summer. Unfortunately, I forgot to take a "before" photo! Basically the table was white and a little dirty with some pencil and crayon marks on the top. The chair was bright orange. I don't think they were donated to AWC as a set. 

I wanted to do something really special with the table. After consulting my four year old daughter, I decided to give it the Fancy Nancy treatment. If you are not familiar with Fancy Nancy, she is the subject of a series of children's books written by Jane O'Connor and Illustrated by Robin Preiss Glasser. Nancy likes all things fancy - like feather boas and French words. She is a favorite in our house. 


I think the table is now the perfect spot for fancy tea parities or creating works of art. 




There wasn't much to this makeover other than painting and sewing a simple cushion for the little chair. 
I really love how it turned out and so does my daughter - so much so that she was mad that she doesn't get to keep the table. She changed her tune when I explained that the table and chair will go to a child who probably doesn't have many toys, and that making another child happy is a really special thing that she gets to be a part of. 

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Pinned It Made It: Rock Cacti

Where did the summer go? Sorry for the lack of posts. We had a very busy summer filled with vacations, camps, crafts, and so much more. Today is the first day that both kids are in school. Now that I have a few more hours in my week I hope to up date the blog on a more regular basis. 


I found this cute little craft from the Craftberry Bush blog via Pinterest a couple of weeks ago. I thought it was super cute and couldn't wait to try it with the kids. We spread out the project over a couple of evenings to allow for drying time etc. 

Pinned version via Craftberry Bush blog

Night 1: 
Collect rocks. We went for a walk on a trail in the woods near our home before dinner. I instructed the kids to look for smooth round rocks in a variety of sizes. We found more than enough. When we got home I set each of them up on the deck with a bucket of soapy water and an old toothbrush and let them wash the rocks. We left the rocks outside to dry. 

Night 2: 
Paint the rocks. I did not prime the rocks before painting. I gave each child a paper plate with a few green and yellow paint options and let them paint their hearts out. The only rule was that they had to cover every surface of the rocks with paint. They usually love any project that involves paint. We set the rocks on wax paper to dry overnight. 

Night 3: 
Embellish the rocks & assemble the cacti.  To embellish the rocks, we used brown, green, black, and orange Sharpies. I like the white paint in the original post, but sharpies were easier for my kids (ages 4 and 7). We tried out different patterns on paper and looked at pictures of cacti for ideas. 

I used a fast drying silicone adhesive to attached smaller rocks to larger rocks. The kids offered input on which rocks should go where. 

Night 4-5: 
Set cacti in pots. To hold the rock cacti in place, I decided to set ours in plaster of paris. I mixed the plaster per the instructions and poured it in into my little terra-cotta pots (~l/2 inch from the top of the pot). I left the price tags over the holes on the bottom of the pots and no plaster leaked out. I let the plaster set for a bit until I could push a rock into it with out the rock sinking (like the consistency of wet sand). I arranged my cacti then let them dry over night. As a final step, to hide the plaster, we topped off the pots with some gravel I had left over from another project. You could also use sand from the sand box. 

I know it sounds like a lot of steps, but it was very easy. The kids loved seeing their creations come together and I love that they now each have a little plant that doesn't require any care. 




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