Saturday, May 28, 2011

Punch Collages

This week I saw this collage idea over at Ucreate with Kids (Tutorial and idea from bright eyes + blue eyes). It seemed like a great weekend project for the kids, especially with the rain today.

The kids started with their paintings last night after dinner.

With and without the brushes.

These are the pictures they created for their collages:

And Katelyn's finished work:

And Erin's:

All of the kids made something really beautiful and were so proud to hang it up. For a full tutorial (and a really cute video of the original artist) take a look at bright eyes + blue eyes. For reference, we used 12 x 12 canvases, I think her's is a little bigger.

Linking up at:

Monday, May 16, 2011

The Worst Trip I Ever Took

What was your worst trip EVER?

For some reason this story popped into my head today and now, many years later, I can see how it's a little funny. A little. Do you have a trip like that? So bad at the time but later you can start to at least laugh about how bad?

I was living in Oregon and we made a trip to see extended family in Boise (about a 9 hour drive). I was pregnant and cranky and really would have rathered be home. My car had a loose belt and squealed something awful (we had tried the soap trick to shut it up but it never worked very well). I had tried to tighten it myself but it's really a 3-man job in that car and the shop wanted $150 just to do that and nothing else. They told me the worst that was going to happen if I left it the way it was is that it would sound bad. And it did. But sounds bad was cheaper so sounds bad it did.

On the way to Boise a deer hit my car (no, not the other way around). We had slowed down when we saw a few deer crossing the road and even stopped for them. When the one deer made no motions to cross the road to join his buddies we started driving slowly only for it to freak out and run into the front passenger side of my car. Since we were moving, the passenger mirror hit the deer in the head and gave it a good brain duster and left a LOT of deer hair all over the side of the car. We did stop, but the deer ran off and we just had to hope it was okay and continue on. About an hour later we realized it had popped the mirror off the holder but we decided not to go back for it. We figured we wouldn't be able to find the right spot in the dark anyway (it's a *really* long straight stretch and any guess as to the exact spot could be off by miles anyway). Down one mirror.

While we were there the car broke down and we had to take it to a shop whose owner turned out to be a liar and a ripoff artist who charged us hundreds more than he said he would for the job, money we couldn't afford. Unfortunately, we were a long way from home and really had no options but to pay the man so we could get our keys and go home after what was already an exhausting trip. Down a couple hundred $$$.

We got on the road and breathed a sigh of relief, happy to finally be headed home. On the way out of town I was going a little fast (about 80) and a deer jumped in front of my car (a theme?). Anyway, I stomped the brakes and we stopped just fine. Whew! We got going again and about a little while later the landscape opens up. The only thing to either side of the car for MILES is low grass and nothing else. You can see everything. So, I wasn't really worried about deer because you could see them coming in that area. So instead of the deer, the State Patrol got me. He said I really needed to keep it under 70 in case a deer jumped out in front of my car. I figured I probably shouldn't press my luck and tell him that I had stopped for the last one just fine when I was going faster and that the one that did hit me did it anyway when I was only going 15, so speed probably wasn't much of a factor. Anyway, I got a ticket. Down a couple hundred more $$$.

Then the storm clouds rolled in. What was a clear and dry road quickly turned to snow and ice and we crawled through it. That is until about 5 miles outside of Burns where we ran out of gas... In a construction zone... On a one-lane bridge... In a couple feet of snow in the dark. Did I mention it had gotten dark and was still snowing? Sigh... So my husband and his friend (wearing a thigh-high leg brace) got out and pushed us off the bridge and sort of off to the side (as much as the snow would allow) so that traffic, if it came by, wouldn't hit us.

At this point I should mention who was in the car. Me, pregnant. Husband, has developed a bad case of the flu on this trip. Husband's friend, wearing a thigh high leg brace. Husband's friend's girlfriend, whose English still needs practice and probably weighs about 100 pounds soaking wet. And one of us is going to need to go get gas because this was before any of us owned cell phones and not a soul was driving by. So husband decided he was going to have to do it since clearly the rest of us wouldn't do well at it and he left. Since we were still partly blocking the road he had us leave the headlights on so we wouldn't be a surprise in the dark if a car did happen to come along.

The nearest gas station was 2 miles ahead but had closed due to the late hour and he ended up having to go about 5 miles to get to the next gas station. The police passed him *3* times and, despite him trying to flag them down, did not stop to help. When he finally got to the gas station I almost couldn't believe him when he told me what he saw. The police car was parked in front of the gas station and they were sitting at a table inside having coffee and... eating donuts. OMG, the stereotype of all stereotypes. He thought about saying something but figured that instead of a ride back to the car he might get arrested if he opened his mouth so he got the gas and came on back. Probably not much of a surprise, his flu later turned into pneumonia.

So he gets back to the car and puts the gas in. We all get back in the car and get ready to go and... the car won't start. The lights had now been on for a couple hours with no charging and the battery had died. At this point we figured we should probably go wake a farmer up and ask for help. The one bright spot to this entire trip was a farmer who not only got out of bed very late one night to give us a jump but told us we should have asked him for the gas as would have given that to us as well. Thank you random farmer for being so kind to us that night.

Luckily, that ended the bad luck for that trip for the most part and we then made the last 5 or 6 hours without incident. How about you? What was the worst trip you ever had? Can you laugh about it now?

Saturday, May 14, 2011

No Cost (but time) Wall Art

I originally saw this phrase in a picture on Beth's blog (love her blog!) but I'm not sure where the original came from. Any ideas? If I google the phrase it gets a ton of hits from everywhere. Anyway, I loved it and during a few quiet moments yesterday (staining) and today (painting) I finished it right up.

I was really bummed that the second line came out a little crooked but my very sweet husband pointed out that since it is "we do second chances" it's a little poetic. So, yeah, I oopsed but I kinda like it that way.

Total cost for this project? $0

-The wood is scraps left over from building the boys' headboards (I didn't even cut them down for this, these are the size the scraps were already).
-The stain is left over from the coffee table I built last year.
-The piece screwed into the back to keep it square is scrap from the new dollhouse floors.
-Add a little paint from the craft box and a stencil from the Silhouette machine and done.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Once Upon A Dollhouse: Completed

The severely beaten dollhouse of my childhood is finally safe for my own kids to play with!

The rest of the dollhouse story can be found at
Part I
Part II
How to do the stairs

One last glimpse of the derelict that she was:

A few little painted details add some fun to the house:

I had a lot of fun painting the playroom and added the flower to the floor on a whim.

A clock (made from a scrap piece of round cardboard we had lying around) adds to the wall and a chandelier hangs in the 2-story room. The railing is gorilla glued in place and hopefully can stand up to the kids.

I added a house number of 1972 for the original year it was built.

Finally she has been moved from the hiding place in the back of the garage into a new home to be played with in safety.

I added this post to:

Monday, May 9, 2011

Once upon a dollhouse Update

Last week we started renovating the sad neglected dollhouse of my childhood. You can see the rest of the before pictures in this post but I have a couple refresher pictures here.

Cool but kinda gross, yeah?

Now all of the holes are filled in, there has been a lot of sanding, a little priming and now the first coats of paint are on.

Kinda hard to tape off the inside of a dollhouse from the outside. Isn't that mess of construction paper and painter's tape pretty?

The outside has the main paint color on now. I need to paint the patio and the ground and I'm not sure if I want to add something else out here. Mostly this side will be against a wall in my home so it won't be seen much but... Well, I guess we'll see what happens after I get the inside taken care of.

So, below is the basic layout of what I'm doing. I added a banister to a half floor in one room and started the paint job details in a couple other rooms. I need to fix the paint in the living room where the primer didn't take well but I have an idea to take care of it. In the meantime I've been having fun crafting chandeliers and miniature artwork for the house to personalize it. I hope the kids like it when it's done (and thankfully it's now safe). I also hope they value it a little more than I did so many years ago.


The most amazing things may also be the smallest.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Foolproof way to make a kid smile for the camera

Have you tried saying "Cheese" and it doesn't work? They stare at you grumpily or give you that fake smile that looks like a grimace? Let me share with you a trick I learned from my mother. Tell them to NOT smile. Really.

It goes something like this (speak like you are serious but be smiling a little yourself):

Non-smiling child
"DON'T you smile!"
The child looks surprised
"I mean it!"
Small smile starts
"I see that! Wipe that smile off your face RIGHT NOW!!"
Big open grins and belly laughs
Keep talking as long as you are taking pictures, with variations on the theme. "Don't you dare" does wonders, too.

Since daddy has been doing a lot of business in Seattle he needed to demonstrate how far it is from Reno to Seattle.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Animal Ark Wildlife Sanctuary

I have lived in Reno for 8 years-ish. When I first moved here I heard that there was a zoo and I took my kids out there. It was, um, well it was bad. The poor animals looked sad in little dinky squares with not much natural shade, plants etc. The kids didn't like it and we never went back. Not long after that I heard that there is also a wildlife sanctuary here but after my zoo experience I never went out there to have a look around. That was a mistake! We took all of the kids out to Animal Ark on Saturday and it was wonderful.

The viewing areas had a nice view of most of the animals and this big boy came right close up to see us.

The animals have nice big spaces to move around in, the big ones are rotated often so they aren't out all day and there is a lot of natural shade and interest in their homes.

We were there around the time that they were changing the bears around and the kids really enjoyed watching it. They placed fruits all around for Yogi (yes, the bear) to find and we were able to have the pleasure of watching it.

I tried to get a bears-eye view but Glenn caught me.

But after the bear was done I did round them all up for a silly face shot. Everyone tried something except I think K2 thought I told him to pick his nose...

And then they all ran away from me, haha. If you live in the Reno area and have thought about going to the Animal Ark I would certainly recommend it. We'll take the kids there again.

On Sunday we took the kids to my mom's house and just played around.

What did you do over the weekend?

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Rainbow cake

I'm not sure where I first saw the rainbow layer cake but I've now seen it on quite a few blogs. Of course I was dying to try it myself because I was sure the girls would flip for it. I didn't want to make a full six layer cake so I made 6 thinner layers (from a doubled cake recipe that would normally make 4 layers) and it worked very nicely. If you do the same just make sure you keep a close eye on them in the oven because thinner cakes won't need to bake as long.

And of course since it was rainbow on the inside we made some rainbows on the outside, too.

Can you tell in this picture that it is a tiny bit lopsided? Hmm, yeah. I tried to level them but unfortunately it got away from me a bit, hehe.

To continue the tradition of 2 dozen balloons on the kids' birthdays I filled K's bedroom and added a little something to her whiteboard, too.