Letters to Rudolph – Letter Station How-To

Tomorrow, is December 1st!post-52964-despicable-me-im-so-happy-gif-hivx

I’m so excited for all the wintery things: sweaters, lights, snow and Christmas!!

During this time of the year, we get families with small children that come through the showroom; due to the climate, these kiddos usually hang out with me while the adults do some shopping. In previous years, I just print out some coloring pages or put out some McD toys for their collective playing pleasure. This year, I’ve decided to be extra creative by devised a small letter writing station to Rudolph!20161130_151816

Here’s my set-up:

Santa and his elves are going into major OT, but they’re not the only ones working hard. Reindeer have been training none stop for their once-a-year trip around the globe.  They deserve some love too!

This project really is super simple and there isn’t a ‘right’ way to do it. Grab some paper and let a child’s endless imagination do the rest!  Since my letter station will be in the showroom, I had to stream line the activity – can’t have the kids here all day!

Here’s what I used for my Letter station:

  1. cute Christmas themed stationary ( I found mine online by searching for “Rudolph Letter Template” )
  2. origami envelop skillz ( jk, this tutorial was very easy! )
  3. cup of pencils/markers/pens
  4. not shown: stickers for stamps

I also created an “origin story” on the table for inspiration.  (Rudolph might be a bit OOC, though… ).
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Pre-printed the letter pages with the mailing address and fold lines on the back; just in case I’m not around to help with folding.  The Address reads, ” To: Rudolph Reindeer 1234 Dashing Way (get it? ) North Pole 82N114W (these are the coordinates for the “north pole”! I think…)

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To finish off my letter station, I upcycled a left-over “Love with Food” box into a mailbox!  Its Red and has a reclosable tab for easy “Letter Retrieval” ^^ .  The front has a plastic pouch which A. hides the logo, and B. It’s a great place to store a sample, in case I’m not around!

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Here’s how to make an easy mailbox:

  1. find a tab closed cardboard box 20161129_163023
  2. rotate box to find a single wall side and cut out a small rectangle. (picking a single wall side just makes it easier to cut out the rectangle)20161129_163032
  3. Optional: decorate the box for festive cheer!20161130_151936

If you can’t find a tab-closed box, just decorate a used tissue box (the top opening is the mail entrance and exit. )

The concept is all about getting kids to hand-write letters. Add Rudolph to your list when writing letters to Santa ( and maybe a letter to the elves, too? )  Its a great opportunity for kids to practice writing encouraging messages.

Let me know how it turns out. Happy Holidays, everyone!

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workshop photos!

Rhinestones make everything better- its a fact! That’s why little girls idolize ballerinas and figure skaters ( they sparkle! ).  Well I’m not little anymore but I am definitely a Swarovski girl.  Even my “edgy” statement pieces are littered with swarovski crystals !

Here’s a couple “in progress” shots I took while making bracelets for my sister’s four musketeers.  Someone asked for them…IDK if they follow my ramblings but here they are:

I had to sit on them because 2 of the musketeers can see my Fb and one of them follows me ( i think…..) shug…  Here’s all four of them wearing their new bracelets ( and everyone was wearing the same greens and blues! )

EZ peezy last minute gifts

These super cute ( and useful! ) tags were made in 20 mins – including the drying time.

My parents are heading to CA to meet up with some MIDDLE SCHOOL friends of theirs ( this is a people over 50 weekend)!  This means Gift making is in order.  Donna and Ray are awesome people, but our families aren’t super close so I had to think of something generic but personal all at the same time.  side note: utilitarian items are the ultimate ” I don’t know what you like, but I wanted to get you something”  ( ie everyone could use a nice pen, comfy socks, paperweight. etc ).  I knew wanted to contribute something nice, but I also wanted it to be personal.  Naturally I pulled out my leather boxes ( yeah….its grown to like 3 different boxes ) and started in one some luggage tags ( I’m obsessed with these ^^).   I used scraps from a “farm leather” scrap pack  ( these are thicker and stiffer pieces – like use on boots or saddles )  which gave me a super sleek  – dare I say professional? – finish.   The farm leather is also sturdy enough to leave a pocket in the middle of the tags – so theses can actually be used as luggage tags!  These will also work as bus pass holders or even as an emergency cash stash.

These turned out nicer than I expected, I’m super tempted to keep them ( LOL).

Upcycled DIY Awesomeness!

The whole situation, was a comedy of errors and weirdness until I realized the potential of my medium – boiling water and plastic utensils. I kid not my friends, a silent hand was guiding me to DIY awesomeness! I’ve got a origin story below ( or you can skip it and jump to the tutorial below! )

Late last night I was boiling some water ( can’t remember why – but probably to make some ramen….which I shouldn’t be eating ) when I accidentally dropped a plastic fork into the pot of boiling water. I quickly made a grab for some kitchen tongs only to find that all of them were crusted with food stuff from dinner. I turned to the sink to wash them but the dish detergent was empty but that wouldn’t stop me for long.  I redirected my aim for some hand soap to wash off the tongs. Now, armed with clean ( and rosemary sage scented ) tongs I rescued the poor fork from the pot of boiling water.  After fishing it out,  I dropped the fork into a cup of water nearby to let it cool; and that when I noticed it.  The fork had bent into a U shape in side the cup. Aha!!!! I can make a bracelet ( seriously, that was my first thought…..).

I fiddled with the fork again and found that a combination of tongs and forceps ( yup, still have random med-school supplies lying about) was the most controlled way to bend the fork into whatever shape I wanted.  The key is to control the water temperature ( steam is dangerous, it can cause burns….but I find wearing gloves too cumbersome while working. ), water volume ( make sure there’s enough water to prevent the plastic from burning. ) and not over working it ( the longer the plastic utensil stays heated, the more likely it is shrinking – pop it into some cooler water every once and awhile if your working on an intricate or tough bend. )

I also worked with a spoon, but the time and amount sculpting scratch up the spoon face too much. I think I’ll keep trying though because I see calla lily bracelets or hair sticks whenever I look at spoons now!  I don’t think knives will have nearly the same impact as the spoon or fork, but once the serrated edge is smoothed out it will make a wonderful cuff.

Okay here’s the  tutorial for Immersion plastic sculpting! (ie bending plastic in boiling water )

Materials

  1. plastic utensils ( save the plastic from your latest chipotle binge )
  2. Short/small sauce pot ( NOT pan, pot!)
  3. tongs, forceps, long handle tweezers/reverse tweezers
  4. long safety gloves ( I recommend them, but I don’t use them )
  5. bowl of warm water ( never put some thing hot into something cold )
  6. bowl of Ice ( IMPORTANT use if for those “Crap, I burned myself” situations)

Tutorial

  1. boil water in the sauce pot ( I would start with 4/5 full )
  2. once water has boiled immerse your plastic utensil in the water.  ( you may need to weigh it down or hold it down with your tongs)
  3. wait 1-2 minutes then gently bend the utensil within the boiling water.  use to 2 sets of tongs or press the utensil against the side of the sauce pot.
  4. once the shape starts to form pull it out and cool it in the bowl of warm water.
  5. Repeat as needed until perfect.
  6. once cooled, decorate with paint, glitter, rhinestones or wrap in fabric strips, beading wire or string!

Good luck!

Tangram Murals! a new take on Geometry

 

Another work mural featuring geometric shapes!  But this one’s inspired by one of my favorite  childhood  games/toys-Tangrams!  What is a Tangram? well….it looks like this

tangram

 

Look familiar? I though it might, these 7 shapes can make almost anything! I remember my grandmother and I used to make weird adaptations like Hello Kity, snoopy and Doraimon; but my favorites have always been the traditional bunch:bunny, fox, swan, flying bird.  This is a super fun and easy DIY for Big projects like my office murals or smaller projects that fit in a picture frame.  Read on for some tips on making you own Super Size tangram mural.

First, decide on a size.  I super-sized my shapes ( my wall is 6’x14′) but I didn’t want to go buy giant ( read, expensive ) paper, so I figured out all the right proportions to make a Large Tangram using standard letter size paper.   This took up take up 3 sheets of paper and I had some spare pieces left, but hey I have a 12″ x 12″ tangram!

Second, decide on a color  I picked blue ( I knew I wanted to make a bunny and…bunnies just scream blue to me ^^)  Optional, add other colors that compliment or offset your main tangram design.

Third, create your tangram shapes  generally speaking a tangram can be made from 1 square so use a premade template like the one above or see below for my guidelines on Super-sized shapes.

Forth, decide on your shape I googled “Tangram templates” and found a TON of helpful pictures.  For anyone interested in a long term investment, look for tangram books or puzzle kits! I posted a “bunny by numbers” picture below for anyone who wants to try it out.

Fifth, Build it! ( cue The Lego Movie soundtrack ! )

 

 Post-it model for Super-Size Tangram below:

 

( note that there are some extra pieces….. 1 extra #7 and 3 extra #4’s )

Here’s a Template for the bunny based on the numbered tangram

Bunny by Numbers

 

 

For the love of Crafting

I’ve been sitting on this post for a while, mainly because….well….I’ve been crafting.

Crafting  and general DIY culture is about grasping a self-sufficiency.  “How do I do that?” “How do I make it better?” floats though my head every time I see something that makes me say”ooooooo Me Likey” and “awww, that’s so cute”  ( which basically means my brain is spinning as soon as I step into a store ).    Really one could say its the ultimate a mental exercise – see, think, realize.   Beyond the comforting knowledge that dreaming up a bear shaped bookshelf is benefiting my neurons, Crafting can be down-right cathartic!  Pounding, smashing, tearing, and smearing new life into raw materials settles my mind and gives me a positive outlook on the day.  I try to make something, anything everyday.

The only draw back to this grand “DIY” mentality is time and money but mostly time;  now that you’ve mapped out all the pieces and a general method of assembly (“insert tab A into slot A” ) you need to put it together.  How long it THAT going to take !?!  and When are you supposed to find time to get all of the supplies for this “Live Changing DIY” ?   Don’t stress, just buy it online, seriously.   There are an endless number of art supplies, beading, canvas and etc suppliers online; many are brick and mortar store just down the street ( they won’t mind mailing you stuff, promise! )  I first stumbled into this stress trap during college when the urge to create something was unbearable ( and Ochem was a definite thing of the past).  I try to make a quick run to Paper Source, Archivers, or even Marshals but always got stuck in traffic, a long checkout line or worse – waste time in the clearance section ( “I NEEDS them ALL!” ).  Once I discovered Amazon, Etsy, and Archivers Annex my life was suddenly much happier ( if poorer ^^).

Now a days, my ultimate crafting solution is joining a Craft subscription ( or 4 ).  Every month the company sends out a box containing 1-4 various DIY activities ( see below for a breakdown and promo link for each of my existing subscriptions  and Pics of February boxes TBA).  There are tons of different types of Craft and DIY subscriptions for example: MyPaperPumkin sends paper crafts and stamping,  Home Grown Collective sends DIY remedies and recipes for the home, and Whimseybox sends rotating crafts.  Check out MySubscriptionAddiction’s page of Craft subscription boxes, it’s huge and the reviews are super insightful!  If you don’t like committing to monthly boxes, Brit+co and Darby Smart have a store of DIY and Craft kits for you to purchase ( no commitments here! )

The options are endless, so have fun and Create!

WhimseyBox ( Mid – Month)

  • Cost:  $15/month ( less with 6mo/annual subscription)
  • or $20/each WB + S/H
  • Pros: the name! ( Whimsey…box…) rotating crafts, fun new products, everything you need for the project, cute WB theme extras
  • Cons: actual project can be hit or miss
  • Promo Link: here ( $5 credit towards purchase or subscription)

Darby Smart Girl (Mid – Month)

  • Cost:  $12/2 months
  • Pros: Tons of supplies, quality and quirky items
  • Cons: it’s designed for teens ( oh well….)
  • Promo Link: Here ( Promo howdydarby for $10 gift card )

Darby Smart “to DIY for…” 

  • Cost:  $19/month
  • Pros: Tons of Supplies, rotating “craft” theme, projects can be as personalized easily
  • Cons: New Subscription so boxes are “hit” or “miss”
  • Promo Link: here  ( Promo howdydarby for $10 gift card )

HomeGrown Collective (End of Month) Featured image is January’s Box “Detox inside and Out” ( Very DIY Spa – like ^^)

  • Cost:  $48/month (less with 6mo/annual subscription)
  • Pros: 2-5 projects,  glass jars, organic/single source/domestic ingredients, useful projects
  • Cons: sometimes the project can be intense ( ie, DIY almond Milk = 3 hours + Failure….)
  • Promo Link: None