Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Ella's Jewelry Box

So, I found this jewelry box in my local thrift store. It was $4.00. I thought about its potential while I walked around the store, and then I left it there. An ugly, lonely little thing, sitting on the shelf. 

The thought of fixing up that jewelry box tortured me the entire night. The next morning, I rushed back to the store, grabbed that hideous little jewelry box and held it tightly to my chest as though someone might take it from me. But they didn't, of course, because look at it! It was a special kind of ugly.

But the lines! The shape! The doors and the drawers! I loved them all. And the $4 price? Well, I loved that the most.

What I didn't love was the color of the wood. And all the scratches. And the painted flowers. And the nasty old flocked felt stuff that lined the drawers, oh my.

So I stripped the drawers:

And James and I filled the scratches and gave it about 100 coats of white paint:

And I mod podged some dark brown paper on the front (it's not yet dry in this picture):

And I mod podged on some pretty paper:

And I lined the drawers with matching paper from the same paper stack:

The back of the jewelry box refused to take paint, so I covered it with paper, too:

I filled it with new clippies and bracelets (and wrote a little note to Ella on the bottom of the box) and gave it to my sweet daughter on Christmas. 

She loves it.

And then today, because "We share in this family!" (as Ella is so fond of screaming at her brother when she wants something), it was also turned into Peyton's Droid Tri-Fighter landing pad:

So, here's the BEFORE:

And here's the AFTER:

Go, little jewelry box, go!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Fresh Christmas Wreath

I've been making this kind of wreath on and off since high school (which seems like four score and seven years ago). On meaning when I'm feeling all fancy and crafty, off meaning when I'm feeling lazy and would rather hang up the fake wreath I got at an after Christmas sale forever ago. Usually I opt for the fake wreath. But not this year! This year I'm all fancy with my fresh wreath. That totally makes me a professional wreath-maker. When I feel like it. Bow down.

Because it's beautiful, simple, and really inexpensive. 

And whenever I make a fresh Christmas wreath, I feel all One With Nature without actually being in nature, so it's a win-win for me. Do you want to be One With Nature, too? All the cool kids are doing it.

What you will need:

Christmas tree branches (I just grab some trimmings from the store's pile when I buy my Christmas tree)
Scissors (kitchen shears work well)
Wire hanger
Twist ties (the ones from the grocery produce section work well because they're green)
Glue gun 
Small ball ornaments (the cheaper the better! WhooYah!)


It's a good idea to cover your work surface because those tree needles are going to be everywhere. I use a really fancy specialty work surface protector otherwise known as the $0.50 on sale plastic party tablecloth left over from one of my kid's birthday parties. Because I'm glamorous like that.

Cut the branches into reasonable pieces. You want flimsy little stalks that you can bend. Try to get the ones with lots of green.

You'll need a bunch.

Grab your hanger and tear off all the paper nonsense.

Curve the top part into a little circle hook and the bottom into a large circle.

Turn the hook inside the circle. You can use that part to hang your wreath later. Or you can cut it off if it gets in your way. The large wire circle will make it easy enough to hang the wreath, so it's up to you. I only cut that loopy part if it still shows when I'm done with my wreath. The wire is sharp after you cut it, so you probably want to wait until you're finished with your wreath to decide.

Make it!

Start wrapping and twisting your branches around the wire circle form.

If you're careful, the branches will stay in place pretty much all by themselves, but a little support never hurt anybody. That's where the twist ties come in handy.

Here's a back view:

As you add new branches, you'll just tuck them into a previous branch and twist them around your circle form. Keep going until you have a nice, full shape. If you have any uncontrollable branch pieces that stick out, and they're driving you crazy, just cut them off. I like mine a little bit on the wild side, but you are totally the boss of your own wreath. You're not any more of a hero if you have to trim it. Sometimes it just makes me happy to cut off the sticky-out pieces.

What's that wreath? You got something to say? Take that! (Cut.) And that! (Cut.) I'm totally the boss of you, wreath! (Cut.)

It's cathartic.

And so is using that big word just now.
But maybe not the fact that I consider cathartic a big word. That might just be sad.

It doesn't matter, because I'm the boss of my wreath.


Glue gun on your ball ornaments.

Make a ribbon bow and glue gun that sucker on, too.

Beautiful and DONE!

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

Pretend-Professional Fresh Wreath-Maker, Out!

Monday, December 6, 2010

On Changing One's Name and Other Cuteness

Peyton and Ella were getting ready for bed a couple of nights ago when Ella made an important life decision.

Ella: "Mommy, I want to switch my name."

Me: "Okay, what do you want it to be?"

Ella: "Hello Kitty. Is that okay?"

Me: "Sure."

Peyton: "That's going to be a long name. I would just stick with Ella."

Ella: "Okay. That's long, so I'll pick Peyton."

Peyton: "No, Ella. You can't borrow my name. Right Mommy?"

Me: "That's true. Only Peyton gets his name."

Ella: "Why? Okay, never mind. All I want to pick is Hello Kitty or Rattlesnake."

Peyton: "Ella, Rattlesnake is too long. And it would be hard to write."

Ella: "Okay. I'll pick Hello Kitty."

Peyton: "Can I call you Kitty for short?"

Ella: "Sure! Sure Peyton! How about Hello Kitty Ruff Ruff?"

Me: "Okay. Why do you want to change your name? You don't like the name Ella anymore?"

Ella: "I do like it, but I just want a change."

Peyton: "Is it because Ella is funny and she's naughty a lot and she cries at the park?"

Ella: "No Peyton! My nickname is going to be Ruff."

Then she left the room to make her big announcement: "Daddy! I'm changing my name to Hello Kitty Ruff!"

The End

And, in related cuteness news, Ella gets sad when Peyton goes to school. She misses him a lot. Last night Peyton borrowed a piece of her stationery, wrote a little note on it, and taped it up on the mirror for her to find in the morning: 


Sunday, November 28, 2010

Our Family Christmas Tree Banner

As soon as I put the Christmas Tree Banner Craft Kit in my etsy shop, my mom ordered one. And not because I made her. I totally did no such thing. 

And then she had us each make a tree when we were at her house for Thanksgiving. She wanted to have a Family Christmas Tree Banner to bring out year after year.  And, yes, she's the kind of mom who still adorns the house with the holiday decorations we made when we were little little little. She's awesome.

So, after dinner, we got out the super-cute, biodegradable box:

And took out all the decorations.

Then we spread out all the trees and paper decorations and fancy embellishments in the middle of the table and got to the decoratin'. It was really fun! I mean, how often does your whole family craft together? Sure, the kids might do a craft with a grown-up every once in a while. But having the whole family - grandparents, parents, aunts, uncles, cousins - sit down and create something together, well, it's pretty special. When were all finished, we each signed our name on the back of our tree (even the little kids!) and we made sure to date the banner. Sha-bam!  It's a keepsake.

Here are my mom and her husband Tom as they decorated their trees. Tom is one of the best people I have ever known. Ever. I could not have asked for a better person to be a Tompa for my kids. We are so lucky!

Since my mom and Tom are the bosses of the whole family, we put their trees in the very middle of the banner. 

Our cute little cousin Noah. Check out his red, white, and blue tree. He was all about the buttons. So cool!

Peyton and Noah. Aren't they adorable?

Here's our little cousin Hayden getting a little help from my sister-in-law Ali (whose fantastic blog you can find here). Do you see how fun crafts can be even for the littlest ones? Hayden is only 20 months old and look at that great crafting smile! She's a natural!

Here's my brother Josh being... well, my brother. Guess what happens when I tell you I'm going to take your picture for my blog and you act like a goofball? That picture goes straight to my blog, that's what. Notice how he's holding his tree Just So. Hilarious! He took all of two minutes to whip up his tree. As he would probably say, "That's all I needed to create the best tree ever. Suckas!"

Ali and I were at the tree decorating table forever. Because we take pride in our work. And also, maybe, because we were doing just a tiny bit of talking. Or a lot. It's what we do.

The Noah, Hayden, Josh, and Ali section of the banner:

By now, my kids have each made many, many of these trees, but they still love making them! Here's sweetie Ella making her tree:

Don't worry - the glue dries clear! So if your kid insists on doing it ALL BY MYSELF! - go ahead and let her. The resulting tree might have glue all over it, but it will still be precious.

Me and my pumpkin-chocolate-chip-bread-eating-monster. Yum!

Peyton wouldn't let me take a picture of him making his tree because he only allows finished product shots. He's got a plan of greatness, that one.

Here's James making his cool retro pink tree.

Are you noticing a picture pattern with that girl? Like here or here or here or... any of the other three thousand pictures I have of her like that. Anyway.

Here are our trees:

This next picture has nothing to do with the Christmas Tree banner and everything to do with how awesome Tom is:

Happy Christmas Tree Banner Time!


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