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. 

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Stenciled Bangles

Once again I'm participating in the Craftaholics Anonymous Summer Gift Exchange. This time around I have been paired with a lovely mother of 4 from Tennessee. She is also a runner and will compete in her first half marathon this fall. While searching Pinterest for Inspirational Running Quotes I came up with an idea to make her something fashionable, fun, and running related.

A few months ago I Instagrammed this inspiration picture (via Real Simple) - follow me @mandyfarn. 

I looked for similar types of bangles at my favorite thrift stores, but only found a couple of smooth wooden bangles. While looking at quotes on Pinterest I recalled the bangles and thought it would be really cute to use my Silhouette Cameo to stencil "run and be happy" around one of the bangles and a pattern around the other.

First I cleaned sanded and primed the bangles. 

post cleaning and sanding 
Next I painted one a shade of pink Mystic Paint called Pretty Petals and the other a color called Iced Aqua. Both bangles required two coats of paint.

I used Silhouette Studio to layout my designs (measured to fit the height and circumference of the bangles)

After cutting out my designs in vinyl, I carefully transferred them to the bangles. Next, I painted a thin top coat in my base color (to seal the edges of the vinyl). Once it was dry I painted over the stencil with my second color. A warm grey called Calla Lilly (also Mystic Brand) on the blue and Iced Aqua over the pink. I did not paint the insides of the bangles.

The blue bangle has layer of paint over vinyl to seal the edges before the top coat,  pink does not. 
I let both bangles dry for a couple of hours before removing the stencil. As a final step I sealed both bracelets with a clear coat of poly spray. I did try to use the vinyl as a more traditional stencil (filling in the negative space of the stencil) but I couldn't get the letters or shapes to lay flat on the bracelets.

I love the soft color combinations and the hit of the base color that can be seen on the inside of the bangles. Wearing them together would be a bit much, but they work very well alone. Next time I might try spray paint or a thinner craft paint.

Both of these bracelets are going to my Summer Gift Exchange partner. I can't wait to make more - plus now I have an excuse to visit my favorite thrift stores.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Follow Me on Instagram

With my transition from an office job to the position of full-time Mommy, I naively thought I'd have more time to blog. Although I may not blog more than once a week, I am busy creating and making. Lately I've been sharing highlights of my adventures with my kiddos as well as crafty project updates, inspiration, etc. via Instagram.

Come follow me @mandyfarn.


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