Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Custom Coloring Book

Its been a while since I've made a custom coloring book wedding favor. I was delighted to be contacted by a bride last week with a last minute request for her wedding this coming Saturday. She supplied me with so many fun details (Disney proposal, top secret groom's cake, a beautiful venue…) that it was hard to decide what to include in the book.

I just sent her the PDF and I hope she loves it.

I love designing these books. Its so much fun to work with people as they plan for one of the happiest days of their lives. If you are interested in commissioning a book, hop on over to my Etsy shop for more details. I've also done books for children's birthdays and other special events.

Monday, September 21, 2015

American Ninja Warrior Party

Everyone in our house loves American Ninja Warrior (ANW). If you don't have any idea what I'm talking about, click here. My son may be the biggest fan in the house, so when we moved to our new home with two acres of yard, I offered to throw him an ANW themed party for his 8th birthday.

I'm certainly not the first person to throw an ANW party and I found a lot of great inspiration on Pinterest. The first thing I did was plan the course. Here's what I came up with.

Our backyard is a big hill so I put most of the obstacles on the flattest portion of the yard. To wear the kids out, I started and ended the course at the top of the hill.

1. Box Jump

My husband and I built the boxes out of scrap wood. I used my Silhouette Cameo to make the stencils to decorate the tops. I designed the ANW looking logo and used it on the kids t-shirts and signs for the party.

2. Pool Noodle Tunnel

I bought the pool noodles on Amazon. I used wood stakes from Home Depot to anchor them into the ground.

3. Laser Walk

This slowed some of the kids down but a lot of them flew through it. To make it I drilled holes in the tops of wooden stakes and threaded, and zig-zagged blue rope through the holes (like a laser). The goal was to get through the obstacle without touching the blue rope. That's my mom supervising. I stationed a grown-up at any obstacles where I thought kids might need help. A few kids got tripped up by this obstacle, but they all got back up and kept on running.

4. Balance Beams

I used scrap wood and bed risers from Ikea to construct the balance beams. I painted blue squares (with grass friendly spray paint) on the ground before and after each obstacle. The kids were told to start and end each obstacle on a blue square. I did this to ensure the course was fair and that no one cut corners. I used the same paint to paint arrows pointing the way from obstacle to obstacle. Each obstacle was also marked with a sign. To make the the signs, I painted pieces of cardboard silver, trimmed each sign with duct tape, then added a vinyl number cut by my Silhouette Cameo.

5. Plasma Scooter

The goal here was to scoot from one side of the basketball court to the other.

6. Trampoline Target Jump

Trampolines are used frequently on ANW, so I had to incorporate one on our course. Thankfully, a neighbor loaned me hers. The goal of this obstacle was to use the trampoline to jump onto the target on the gym mats. Someone in my neighborhood had put the mats out with the trash a week before the party - SCORE! I used duct tape to make the target.

7. Slack Line Walk

This was the hardest obstacle, but the kids loved it. I stationed a parent here too. I bought the line on Amazon and picked this particular one because it came with a training line. It was super easy to install and I plan to leave it up until it gets cold.

8. Haystack Wall

I had to do a fair amount of calling around to find a garden center that would deliver haystacks for a reasonable rate. I used plastic stakes to cover the stacks with an old sheet. The sheet helped to stabilize the stack and made it a bit more comfortable to climb over.

Before running the course we gathered all of the kids in our basement to watch about 15 minutes. of the 2015 ANW finals.

Next, I had all of the kids walk the course with me and asked for volunteers to demonstrate each obstacle. I made a balloon arch the morning of the party and had the kids line up behind it to wait for their turn to run the course.

I had a few kid and adult volunteers hold a crepe paper finish line. I think the kids really liked this. I also blew an air horn at the start and finish of each run. We did keep time, but we didn't announce or give an award to the winner. The fastest time was 1:21 and the slowest time was 3:09.

As each contestant finished the course, they were awarded a cookie medal.

I used this recipe to make the cookies. It was definitely one of the tastiest sugar cookie recipes I've ever used. I used a drinking straw to cut the hole for the ribbon prior to baking. I also gently pressed a star cookie cutter (just to make an imprint) into the top of each cookie before baking. The star imprint made applying the icing much easier. 

The sugary fun didn't stop with the cookies. After everyone had run the race, it was time for cake. 

I started with a sheet cake that was baked and iced by Safeway. I made the ANW obstacle topper out of dowels and wood scraps (from the model building section of any craft store). I used hot glue to attach everything, then reinforced the joints with Crayola Model Magic.  Once everything was dry, I sprayed it with silver spray paint. I used wire to add the Twizzler ropes and Model Magic to make the 8. I used my Silhouette Cameo to cut the Ninja Warrior and star stencils, and Wilton Color Mist to spray the stencils.  I was happy with the way these turned out, but I think they would have been much crisper if I had used freezer paper - I used card stock.

The kids didn't care about the stencil lines. They were blown away by the cake.

After cake we let the kids play and rerun the course until they were exhausted. I even managed to get a group photo of all of the Ninjas.

Each guest got to keep their shirts as a party favor. I made the shirts using my Silhouette (what did I ever do without it!?!). I got the shirts from Walmart.com for less than $3 pp.

The party was a blast and my kids are still enjoying all of the obstacles. One kid came up to me and said, "Thanks for inviting me. This party was epic!" That compliment pretty much made my year.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Master Bath Renovation

Although we moved into our house in March the hubby and I still haven't moved into our master bedroom. We've been living in the guest room in the basement. It is lovely and comfortable, but its not our room. With our master closet and dressers a floor away, I've been living with a limited wardrobe. If it were't for the cleaning, cooking, and errand running I'd feel like I was on vacation.

Anyway, the reason we haven't moved into the master is the master bath renovation. The master bedroom actually had two bathrooms when we moved in - his and hers. We demolished hers (a pink 80s showpiece) during our first round of renovations prior to moving in. We transformed it into a large walk in closet with a stackable washer and dryer. More on that soon.

At the beginning of July we contracted a company called KBR to renovate the other master bath. To refresh your memory here's the original floor plan.

The hers bath is the one with the tub. As you can see, there were 4 closets in the room - 2 in her bath, 2 in his, and 2 facing into the master. I don't how the former owners remembered what was in what closet. With the hers bath converted to a large walk-in closet, we didn't need all of the other closets in the room. We decided to gut the entire his bath, to make one large master bathroom. The former his bathroom had a large sitting/dressing room and a tiny shower, bath, and toilet space.

View walking into the dressing room area.

Weird little table across from vanity in dressing room. I do plan to repurpose this elsewhere in the house. 

View from dressing room into actual bathroom. 

Tiny shower

Original 70s tile and wallpaper. I actually kinda like both. Just not in this space. 

 We worked with an Architect to figure out the new floor plan.

We wanted to maximize the windows in the room and did not want to move them. One is actually in the new shower and the other is over the tub. We made a few adjustments to the plan to keep costs down - we didn't end up raising the ceiling above the tub, we did not add frosted glass to the wall between the shower and toilet, and we went with a traditional door vs. a pocket door.

We are in the final stages of the renovation and I can't wait to share the finished space. In the meantime here's a sneak peak of some of the finishing touches.

I'll share all of the design details and sources when I share the finished bathroom - hopefully before the end of the month!

Thursday, September 10, 2015

All About That Base

One of the pieces of furniture I got at my grandmother's house is a long sideboard. Its not very deep and has lovely delicate lines. I put in my foyer along with a bowl of antique fishing floats that are similar to these, that also belonged to my grandmother, and a mirror that my mother gave me from her home shortly after I got married. The long table needed a pair of green lamps (the dining room is green I had my heart set on green lamps), but everything that I found that I liked was $200+ per lamp. Lamps are so expensive!

So I turned to the second hand market place - Etsy, Ebay and finally Craigslist, where I found a pair of lamps that fit my budget. The Asian celadon lamps were the color, size and shape I was looking for, but I didn't like the bases - a bit too ornate and fussy for my taste and they didn't come with shades. They were only $35 for the pair, so I decided to get them.

As soon as I got them home I started taking them apart. Thankfully they were easy to dismantle and within a few minutes of playing with them I had the ornate bases off. Note, that in order to take a lamp a part, you have to undo the wiring in the bulb socket. This is not difficult, but if you've never done it before, take pictures so that you know how to put it back together. There are also tons of youtube videos on the subject of wiring lamps.

These lamps had a wiring system that I was not familiar with, but really liked. Most lamps are wired like this:

These lamps had a little thing that you threaded the wire through, them clamped down. I cannot find a picture of it anywhere. They probably don't make them anymore, but it was super easy to use. If anyone knows what I'm talking about, please tell me what they are called.

After taking them a part and successfully removed the ornate bases, I started looking online for new simple brass bases. I wanted something similar to this:

In my search I came across mylampparts.com. The site is pretty basic and the product pictures are not the best, but at $12 per base, I decided to give it a try. 

As soon as my bases arrived I assembled the lamps. The bases were exactly what I had in mind!

The new bases made a world of difference. Next I went on the hunt for the perfect shades.  I was having a really hard time finding the size shade I wanted for an affordable price (less than $100!), when I finally found fenchelshades.com. Their shades are custom made, to size, in the USA! They are also very affordable. When my shades arrived one had a dent in it. I filled out a form on their website and they followed up with me immediately to replace the damaged shade.

The table and lamps make the foyer feel like it has a purpose. I plan to style the table a little bit more and will share in a future post. I couldn't be happier with my updated Craigslist lamps and now I won't let something like an ugly base be a deal breaker.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Bike Swap

Having a boy and a girl is great and I wouldn't want it any other way, but there is one teensy downside - hand me downs just don't work. Not for clothes, not for shoes, not for toys, and not for bikes. When we gave our son a new bike for his birthday, we told our daughter she could have his old one. At first she was excited at the prospect of a "big kid" bike. But then she proclaimed, "but there is nothing girl about it!"

She's right. Its blue, grey and black. In her mind, all boy colors. Here's his bike on the day he got it, his 4th birthday. He turns 8 in a week, so he got a good 4 years out of it!

 Of course his sister had to give it a try. She looks so tiny! Its hard to believe that she can ride it now - without training wheels no less. 

To make it more her style I knew I'd have to paint it and replace the blue accessories (handle bar grips etc.) with colors she likes. Before painting the bike, I removed the tires, the tire splash guard things, chain/gear cover, and all of the existing decals. I also cleaned the bike really thoroughly. I taped and covered everything I didn't want painted like the pedals and gears. I decided to keep the grey and black, and paint only the blue. I used frog tape and plastic grocery bags to cover the areas I didn't want painted. Of course I neglected to take a picture of this. Eventually I'll get the hang of this blogging thing!

While the paint was drying (I used left over white appliance spray paint from this project) I used my Silhouette Cameo to make decals to dress up the bike. We call our daughter little B so I cut out a bunch of yellow bees, as well as purple and yellow flowers, and polka-dots (per her suggestion). I also cut out some strips with a scalloped edge to trim the transition sections between the new and old paint (although, the frog tape made VERY crisp lines). 

I kept the tire splash guards black and covered them with bees and flowers. The handle bar grips are new from Amazon. They were a little long so I cut a section out of the middle before sliding them on.  They are very snug so I'm not worried about them sliding apart.  The bike seat cover is also from Amazon

I removed the old blue bar covers and used them as patterns to make new ones. I had some iron on fabric laminating sheets in my craft stash which I used to make the pink and rainbow fabric water proof. That is my very last scrap of rainbow fabric. I think I bought it for her second birthday party. The basket is from her old bike. 

I ordered the flower spoke clips on Amazon and let her clip them on. 

Its definitely a custom bike! I have a few more decals that I'm going to let her stick on this weekend. Hopefully we'll get another 4 years out of it! 


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