Archive for DIY/How-To

Under Construction: Beau’s 2nd Birthday Party (The Details)

Planning events is one of my favorite pastimes. Being able to craft a party that utilizes a beloved theme AND makes someone feel super-dee-duper special is so much fun!

My son turned 2 in June, so beginning in January, I started brainstorming theme ideas for his party. He’s not much of a napper, so I start way in advance since I get very limited time each day to design.

The funny thing? I chose a Construction/Tool theme before he was all that interested in it, and through the planning process, he became more and more fascinated with diggers and dozers and dump trucks. By the time his party rolled around, he was obsessed, so it all worked out. ;)

Let me also say this: Having a Silhouette Cameo made planning this party SO much easier. When I did Beau’s Woodland Party last year, I cut everything by hand. Oy.

LOVE my Cameo…it allowed me to cut out the heading and the pieces I needed to create some excavators. I used Sticky Doos from Hobby Lobby to give the machines some depth, and tore pieces of brown paper by hand to give the ‘dirt’ a jagged look.

Next, I created favors for each of Beau’s little friends. My mom, ever the incredible seamstress, used tea towels to make each child their own tool belt with two pockets.

I cut various construction vehicle from vinyl to create stencils for painting.

And the birthday boy helped remove the vinyl once the paint was dry.

I designed hang tags for some baggies I had leftover from a pegboard project and filled each baggie with chocolate rocks I found on Amazon.

Each tool belt was stuffed with a mini machine and a baggie of chocolate rocks.

Treats for our pals, ready to go!

Since we live out in the country, I knew I wanted to mark our driveway with a sign of some sort. I used my Silhouette to cut out vinyl letters to mask off black foamcore board.

Then, I learned the hard way (with a piece not shown here), that foamcore board does NOT like spray paint. Must be the solvents or something in the paint, but it makes the board bubble up and the paper backing peels away from the foam. SUCH a mess.

So, cue Plan B…acrylic paint. I tried a brush, but hated being able to see the brushstrokes. So I switched to a brayer I haven’t used since my college days of linoleum block printing.

Because the paper soaked up the paint, it took several coats, but it worked pretty well. Once the paint dried, I peeled off the vinyl letters and cut a black strip around the outside edge to mimic a true traffic sign.

One project I do each year is an age shirt. Let me tell you, truck fabric is NOT easy to find! We ended up with this psychedelic construction vehicles print.

But, once the vehicles were isolated, they looked pretty cute on a plain, brown tee. I purchased orange and yellow tin buckets to hold snacks and forks. I happened to have some construction stickers laying around to decorate the tins. I found hard hats at the party store and added the CAT logo in black vinyl.

 

To keep stress low as the party approaches, I always make as much of the food in advance as possible. I knew I wanted to make dipped pretzel rods, so I was excited to read they could be done up to a week in advance. So, I dipped, sprinkled, and packed away our pretzel treats.

Sugar cookies are always a big hit, too. My parents sent me this set of tool cookie cutters they found on Ebay.

I like to use this cookie recipe, as it holds a cutter shape really well and isn’t too sweet (the icing covers that!). I made royal icing in gray, brown, and yellow and got to work outlining and flooding all the cookies.

Cake decorating is a lot of fun to me, too. I had seen this tutorial about making striped cakes, and I knew it would be perfect for our construction zone theme.

Because the recipe makes two cakes, I was able to practice and perfect my angles. And my mess-making skills.

When it came time to decorate the cake, I pulled inspiration from multiple sources. I have a copy of the book What’s New, Cupcake? and it gave me the idea to create ‘trees’ from Tootsie Rolls and sprinkles.

And of course, Oreo cookie dirt! I made Beau his own little cake mound out of scraps and trimmings.

I used fondant to make miniature traffic cones, then added dyed coconut grass and chocolate rocks to round out the landscaping.

Of course, there was a dump truck, hauling a load of rocks from the quarry.

A little construction zone tape put the finishing touches on the cake display.

I knew I wanted some sort of edible “boulder,” so I made chocolate popcorn balls using this recipe. I made them late the night before the party and wrapped them tightly in cling wrap so the popcorn would stay crisp and not get soggy.

To set off the area in the kitchen where the food would be set up, I hung a black curtain over the windows. Then I created a banner from cut letters and shapes attached to satin ribbons.

As for party ‘entertainment’, what’s better than a bunch of rocks and dirt to dig through?!

I set up our pop up tent and draped a tarp over the top for shade. Orange safety netting, marker flags, and painted signs rounded out the construction zone look.

Stay tuned for pictures from Party Day so you can see all these details in action!

Name That Glass

Even before I treated myself to a digital cutter, I knew I wanted to try glass etching. I’d heard it was really easy and I knew what I wanted to try as my first attempt.

My husband and I belonged to a Bible study where each couple in the group took turns bringing either an entree, side dish, dessert, or soft drinks.

Every Wednesday, as we threw away paper plates and plastic cups, my stomach turned. I hated seeing all that trash week after week, so I proposed we buy reusable dinnerware. I offered to take up a collection and do the shopping myself.

I found a set of glasses for about $1 each. Problem is…in a group, you set down your Coca-Cola, walk away to get seconds, and then can’t remember whose glass is whose.

So, I used my SIL’s cutter (since I hadn’t purchased my beloved Silhouette Cameo yet) to make a personalized stencil for each glass, one per group member.

I finished off the edges with masking tape to prevent any leakage from the etching cream.

I pressed firmly to make sure there were no bubbles in the stencils.

Then I gooped over each one with a nice, thick layer of glass etching cream and let it sit for 10-15 minutes. That’s it!

Then, I rinsed off the cream, peeled off the stencils, and TA DA! Instant personalized glasses!

The group LOVED these and it made it so easy to keep track of our drinks!

Since then, I’ve done many more glass etching projects: mustache drinking glasses, a monogrammed 9×13 baking dish, picture frames, candy jars, flower vases, beer mugs, etc.

These may be simple projects, but their uniqueness makes a huge statement! Etched glass is perfect for weddings, showers, parties, and one-of-a-kind gifts.

How about you? Want anything etched? Tell me your vision and I can make it happen!

#106: Dessert Cups

In September 2009, I started a cupcake adventure. (At this rate, I may never finish! And, I’m not sure I even want to, so, ha!) If you haven’t read about it yet, you can do so here.

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Need a simple way to make a dessert that doesn’t require many ingredients? You’ve come to the right post!

Ingredients:

  1. Candy Melts by Wilton or Make’n Mold wafers or other baking chocolate (regular chips in chocolate, white chocolate, mint, etc. work fine, too.)
  2. Cupcake papers (save your cute ones for another project…this is a good chance to use up those out-of-season or mismatched ones!)
  3. Fruit or other “filling.” I chose to use thawed, frozen strawberries from my grandparents’ farm. Yummy!

You start by melting the wafers in a microwave or double boiler.

You then use a pastry brush to get a dip of chocolate…

And “paint” a layer of chocolate all over a cupcake paper like so:

Here’s what a single layer looks like. You can tell by the transparency of the chocolate in the bottom that it’s important to do several coats! At least with candy melts. I’m not sure you’d have the same problem with chocolate chips or other baking chocolates.

I did a total of three coats and had some issues getting a smooth coating. The first coat was a little tricky to get on, and after that, subsequent coats of warm chocolate kept melting the previous coats.

So…they looked a little globby, but since they were going to be covered up, it wasn’t a problem! :) I refrigerated them for 15-20 minutes to make sure the chocolate was nice and set.

Once the chocolate had cooled and hardened, next came the really fun part! Peeling off the paper! The three coats made them nice and sturdy, but I still worked carefully to remove the wrappers.

Here they are peeled and ready to be filled!

I drained my strawberries and placed a scoop in each cup. I wish I had had more berries to go around and some whipped cream to top them off!

The original recipe suggested drizzling the fruit with raspberry sauce, but I just sprinkled each one with a pinch of sugar instead.

Darling!

Since making these, I’ve thought of so many fun ways they could be used! Mini ice cream bowls, “baskets” for Easter treats, pudding cups, yogurt parfaits.

You could even use them as mini serving bowls to hold nuts, mints, sprinkles, garnishes, and other small party foods.

And since Candy Melts come in so many colors, you could even make these bowls in pink or blue for a baby shower or in a bride’s wedding colors.

The best part? No dishes to wash…just serve and eat!

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Easy Charms: A How-To

I needed a Christmas gift idea for my 9-year-old step-daughter. Even though she is easy to please, it can be hard to come up with original ideas for her (are tweens just generally hard to buy for, or what?!)

After rummaging through my scrapbook paper and crafting supplies, I decided to make her a set of one-of-a kind charms. They were SO easy and fast to make. I’ve included step-by-step instructions so you can make a set for someone special…or yourself {you ARE someone special, after all!}

I thought I would use basic acrylic tiles, but then I found these amazing charms by Tim Holtz. I bought mine at Hobby Lobby for $9.99 (less 40% thanks to their online coupon!). I already had the paisley paper and the two other necessary supplies…

…Mod Podge:

…and jewelry jump rings:

I chose which tiles I wanted to use for Jo’s gift and traced around them on the scrapbook paper, choosing various designs from within the pattern. I then used a scissors to cut out the swatches.

Each tile got a thin coat of Mod Podge.

And the corresponding paper swatch was attached to the back of the tile.

Repeat for all tiles.

Here’s how they look from the front. So cute, huh?!

Next, I used a bookmaking awl (a large needle would also work) to punch holes in the top of each of the charms.

I recommend punching from the back through to the front. This way, the ‘ragged’ edge around the resulting hole ends up inside the hole of the tile, giving each charm a clean look.

Next, grab a jump ring and place it over the jaws of a needle-nosed pliers. Gently open the jaws to stretch the ring open.

Thread the opened ring through the hole you punched in the last step and use the pliers to squeeze the jump-ring back shut.

Viola!

Now they are ready to go on a chain!

Here’s the set…different shapes, different sizes, all corresponding and ready to be mixed and matched.

A bought a set of ball chains and they were the perfect finishing touch for these tiles.

I had so much fun making these…good thing that package of charms has 48 pieces! Our girl may be getting another set for her birthday! :)

You could make these for any holiday or occasion. They could be jewelry or key chains or wine glass markers or tags for your kids’ stuffed puppies….the possibilities are endless!

Have some fun with these! I’d love to hear what you create!

–Abbi

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