Saturday, December 14, 2013

A Little Holiday Zentangle Tutorial

It's holiday time. I like to make something to give to my co-workers, but this year I was struggling to come up with an idea. I've decided to make some holiday Hershey Kiss pretzels and Rolo pretzel bites but I wanted a tag to go on each bag of goodies.  I found some wood flower shapes at the Dollar Tree and inspiration struck. I created some wooden Zentangle tags that can double as a Christmas ornament.

I gathered my materials:

  • wood shapes(the package had 10 shapes for $1)
  • red and green acrylic paint
  • paintbrushes
  • black Sharpie
  • old plastic lid for paint
  • paper to protect my work surface
  • DMC thread

First I watered down some red acrylic paint.  There is no exact science to this; just squirt some paint on an old plastic lid, add a little water and mix. I painted one side of my wood pieces.  I did a couple of coats until I was happy with the color then set them aside to dry. 

Once they dried I flipped them over to paint the backside and the edges of my wood pieces. Then I set them aside to dry again.

After letting them dry, I used the black sharpie to Zentangle on the front of each flower shape. Note: I tried drawing on the wood first then painting but it didn't work as well.  Painting first stopped the Sharpie from bleeding across the wood. Plus the black turns out lighter when you draw then paint over it. After trial and error, my advice is paint first, then draw.

Here's a group of the Zentangle tag/ornaments I finished. I wrote To: and From: on the backside with Sharpie so they will work as a gift tag on my holiday goodies.The last step is to drill a hole in the center and thread a piece of DMC through. Tie a knot then hang them on your tree or attach them to your Christmas gifts.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Oh Christmas Tree

We got our Christmas tree set up last night.  I love sorting through the ornaments and reminiscing as we hang each ornament.  Our tree is a combination of purchased, handmade and handed down ornaments.  It's full of memories for each of us. We actually have more ornaments than we have tree space.

This year I have a small "handmade" tree in the front foyer.  The tree isn't handmade but it's filled with handmade ornaments from the Year of Enchantment swap, this year's bird ornament swap and ornaments I've made with my own hands. Keeping with the handmade theme, Melinda made the table runner under the tree for me as part of the Christmas in July swap. It's a perfect base for my handmade tree. I love that this tree is full of ornaments that were lovingly made! It makes me smile every time I walk by it.

Happy holidays!

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving

I love this little card!  It's sweet so it's definitely a keeper.  I couldn't stop chuckling every time I looked at it. I love that Chunk is a turkey!  She explained that pilgrims didn't have pet dogs instead they had turkeys.

Hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving surrounded by your family and friends!

Monday, November 25, 2013

The First Snow

For kids the first snow is always exciting.  I went to let Chunky out on Saturday night and what did I see . . . SNOW!  I didn't even know it was supposed to snow. Chunky ran around like a crazy little dog, eating snow while the girls went outside to play and create in the snow. Don't you love these little snowmen by the pool?

Here are two crazy girls enjoying the first snow.  Laughing, yelling and just having some good old fashion snow fun.  I wish I still thought the first snow was magical.  The older I get the more it just feels COLD and reminds me of the months of snow and shoveling ahead.  On a plus note I guess the older I get the faster time goes so before I know it the snow will melt and it will be spring again. Until then the girl and the dog will enjoy the snow and I'll enjoy the hot chocolate!

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Painted Wine Glass Tutorial

I was never a wine drinker until recently. Now I like a nice glass of wine, but the glasses are really plain. I decided to try painting some wine glasses to brighten them up a bit. I bought some Folkart enamel paints and the rest is history.  Now I enjoy my wine in a decorated glass. I can't help but smile when I look at my decorated glasses . .  . they make me happy! Here's a quick tutorial to get you started on creating your own.  I dare you to try it!  Disclaimer: Once you've experienced the joy of drinking wine from a decorated glass it's hard to go back to a plain glass.

Wine glass
Rubbing alcohol
Enamel paints(I use Folkart enamels)
Paint brushes, Q-tips or foam circles
Paper towels


Step one: Gather your materials and get ready to create a fun wine glass.

Step two: Wash your wine glasses and dry them. I've had luck purchasing my wine glasses at the Dollar Tree. They're a big glass but I don't mind.

Step Three: Wipe the outside of the glass with rubbing alcohol. This removes the oils that your hands leave behind. (I've skipped this step before and the glasses turned out fine, but the directions on the paint include this step.)

Step Four: Start painting.  I paint on my glasses but don't paint too close to the rim. You can use paint brushes, Q-tips or foam circles to apply the paint.
I did a circular design for my glass using a set of Martha Stewart foam circles I found on the clearance rack of my local craft store.  They work really well for making polka dots.   If you don't have foam circles, that's okay, I've used the eraser end of a pencil to make polka dots.

Note:  If you're worried about painting free hand you can draw your design on with sharpie and paint over it. You may want to coordinate the color of the sharpie with the color you'll be painting so the Sharpie won't show through.

Next I add a design to the base of the glass.

Step Five: Once you've finished painting allow your glass to dry for 1 hour.

Step Six: Place your glasses on a baking sheet then put them in a cool oven.  Turn on the oven and set the temperature to 350. Once the oven reaches 350 let your glasses bake for 30 minutes. When they've finished baking turn off the oven and leave them in the oven to cool.  

Step Seven: Once your glasses have cooled, wash and dry them again. I hand wash all of my painted wine glasses and haven't any problems with paint chipping or coming off.  The paint bottle says they should be top rack dishwasher safe, but I've never tested it.

Step Eight: Pour yourself a glass of wine, then sit back and admire your new wine glass!

Painted wine glasses make great gifts for family, friends and neighbors.  They are pretty, inexpensive and totally unique. Kids can even do this project. My 9 year old daughter painted the other two glasses in the picture.  She also painted two last year as a gift for her teacher.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Something From School

I'm a special education preschool teacher.  I teach three, four and five year olds.  Due to the nature of my job it's not often I can share pictures from my classroom, but today I have something I can share.  I went to a fabulous workshop this summer where I learned about caring for about Monarch Butterflies. The workshop is offered by The Monarch Teacher Network. Our first preschool unit is "Changes All Around Me" so this fall we have been raising monarch caterpillars in my classroom.

Here we have one caterpillar in it's chrysalis and a second in a J getting ready to go into a chrysalis.  This rearing cage in made from a tomato cage and tulle, it's been great for raising our caterpillars. I learned how to make it in the workshop.

Today, two weeks after the first caterpillar went into it's chrysalis I arrived at school to find two beautiful monarch butterflies.  The children haven't seen them yet as my students don't attend on Fridays. I've emailed butterfly pictures to all the families and have my fingers crossed that the flowers and the apple juice I left in the rearing cage will tide them over until the children & I arrive on Monday morning.

We've been working on patterning in preschool so we looked at the patterns on our caterpillars to create these paper caterpillars.

We also created these little butterflies by rolling marbles in orange and black paint then cutting them out to be the size of an actual monarch. We're participating in the Monarch Butterfly Symbolic Migration. Our paper butterflies were tucked into the larger butterfly before being mailed off.  They will eventually be sent off to children in Mexico to symbolize the journey Monarch Butterflies make each fall.  Then in the spring we'll receive a set of paper butterflies made by children somewhere in North America to symbolize the Monarch's journey North in the spring. I'm excited to participate. It's been a lot of work to care for these little creatures but it's been well worth it.   My kids have been so excited to see how they have changed.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Zombie Making

Fall is here and Halloween is just around the corner.  It's the perfect time for making some zombie dolls.  I recently participated in the Alice in Wonderland Zombie Swap. Zombie doll making is so much fun, it was hard to stop when the swap was over.  I know for most people that sounds weird.  Seriously some of my family, friends and neighbors think I'm a bit weird making zombie dolls. Worse yet I mail them to other people. They don't really get it, but that's okay I have a group of zombie making friends that do.  After the Alice in Wonderland Zombie Swap, a group of us decided we weren't ready to end the zombie making fun so a challenge was issued . . . make a zombie doll for yourself. 

A few years ago I did my first zombie doll swap with Val & Friends.  I saw a cartoon about zombie rehabilitation where the zombies were re-trained to do work by hanging a stick with a dangling brain in front of them. You know, dangling the proverbial carrot only in this case they like brains.  The idea intrigued me so I created this little guy here.  His name is Dead Fred.  I was so sad to see him go. I've often thought I'd like to make Dead Fred again for myself. When the zombie challenge was issued, I immediately thought about Fred. I dug up pictures so I could  re-make him, but true to myself I had to change it up a bit.  This time he's made from recycled wool sweaters and coats, one of my favorite mediums.

 Meet Dead Donald the newest zombie in town.  Like Fred he's part of the Zombie Rehabilitation program. I have his brain all made I just need to rig it up on the stick.  Even though he's not quite finished I couldn't resist sharing him. He's much bigger than I planned but I like how he turned out. I think we'll go sit down on the couch together and read the second book in the Alice in Zombieland series.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Good Mail Can Make You Cry

Have you ever gone to the mailbox and found a random package you weren't expecting?  That happened to me this week.  When my husband brought in the mail, there was a surprise package from my friend Val.  It's not my birthday, a holiday or even a package for a swap.  Val sent me a thanks for being my friend package.  It brought tears to my eyes and then it made me smile. Val made this cute little voodoo doll and sent it to me. Isn't he so cute?!!  I love him!  After I wiped away the happy tears I had to stick him with the pins she sent.  He really didn't mind.   I have to admit I have crochet envy, as I only know how to crochet a chain. I adore the amazing crochet creations Val makes and now this one is mine.  Thank you so much Val!  You made my day! Thank you for being my friend!

Friday, October 4, 2013


I had the opportunity to become a Life is Good Playmaker this year.  Playmakers are a group of people who are trained to bring joy, optimism and a love of life to children who have been affected by trauma, violence, illness and poverty.  You can learn more about Playmakers or look at the schedule for future trainings at the Life is Good website. I've been a teacher for almost 20 years so I've attended a lot of trainings and workshops during that time.  The LIG Playmakers training is by far the best training I've ever attended. 

Yes, the fun starts here.  During the Life is Good Festival a few weeks ago I got to meet and work with a group of LIG Playmakers to play games and spread good vibes through play. It was a lot of fun to help kids into sacks then watch the laughter and joy as the hopped across the field.

Here's our sack race crew for the first shift on Sunday.  In case you haven't done a sack race in a few years, it's much harder than I remembered.  I was super slow and quickly realized it was way more fun helping the kids race than racing myself.

This photo comes from the LIG Playmakers.  These are the people who volunteered to play games with children and their families.  I'm in the back on the right hand side(the dark blue sleeve.)

Playmakers rock! I got to meet the Chief Playmaker, Steve Gross. He's in the middle in the brown shirt.  He was super nice. Really all of the Playmakers I've meet are nice, it goes with the whole Playmaker philosophy of spreading joy. It was so much fun to meet other Playmakers and spend the weekend playing with kids and their families.  I'm looking forward to the LIG festival next year.

For my crafty friends, I just had to share this picture.  This is Emily, she's one of the awesome Playmaker trainers. Can you believe she made this amazing dress from a ripped parachute?  Isn't it fabulous?!

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Life Is Good Festival 2013

I volunteered at the Life Is Good Festival a couple of weekends ago.  It was fabulous!  I had fun and got to see some great music to boot.

The proceeds from the festival benefit the Life is Good Playmakers, who help children in need. I'll share more about the LIG Playmakers in another post. In the meantime the theme of the festival was Good Vibes Save Lives.

 The festival had music, games, food and art.  You know we can't resist an art project.  My girl and I each painted a square tile. The tiles had a number on the back and had specific colors that could be used. This is my daughter's tile.

He're my tile. I included my name and a bit of a zentangle flavor on my tile.

The tiles were place into slats to create a large mural. You can see our tiles two rows to the right of the letter N in this picture.  Each person who painted could make a monetary donation. The donations collected benefit the The One Fund Boston.  $538,150 was raised from these donations over the two days of the festival.

This is the finished mural.  Isn't it awesome!  I love that our artwork is part of a larger piece, created by a community of people who want to help others. You can't see our tiles in this picture with all of the people, but the tiles are there(behind the head of the guy in the blue shirt.)

Best of all the festival ended with almost two hours of Jack Johnson.  Those of you who know me, know that he's my favorite.  I love to listen to my Jack Johnson albums when I sew. My husband and my daughter attended too so we enjoyed the show as a family.  It was awesome!  It turns out Jack and his family walked around the festival like the rest of us. Of course I was disappointed that I didn't see him but really it's probably for the best.  I'd like to think I'd play it cool and act normal but in reality I'd probably act like some crazed fan and make a total fool of myself.

The festival was great! I'm already planning to volunteer again next year.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Outdoor Art

We took our art outside recently and explored sidewalk chalk photo art.  My girl, the girl next door and I headed outside with a box of sidewalk chalk and some ideas.  We each created one scene ourselves then took turns having our photos taken in each other's art.  It was a lot of fun!
My girl made the beret and and paint brush, I added the paint palette.  It turned into a family project when we enlisted my husband's help to climb up on a ladder to take the photos. The pavement was pretty warm and the sun was so bright that it hurt to open your eyes. Try as we might, we couldn't keep our eyes open for most of the photos.

My girl drew this one. She wanted it to look like she was floating away with the balloons.

I wanted to create butterfly wings for us.  In the photos of me you can tell I was uncomfortable laying on the hard, burning pavement.  I looked as stiff as a board and couldn't keep my eyes open.  So here's a picture of the girl instead of me.

The girl next door drew this one. Both girls decided they wanted it to look like they were running in this picture.

We had a great time creating these. Next time we need to do this earlier in the morning before the sun heats up the pavement and burns out our eyes.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

The Zombies are Here

 It's back to school time but I couldn't resist joining the zombie doll swap hosted by Val.  Stop here to see the amazing zombie dolls everyone has created! My zombie came in the mail on Friday.  Just look at the packaging, I knew it was going to be good.

The theme of this year's zombie doll swap was Alice in Wonderland. My very talented partner Kathy created this amazing zombie Cheshire Cat for me. Thank you Kathy!! Check out Kat's blog to see how she created this amazing kitty.

 Here's my zombie horde with their newest additions.  I couldn't resist making myself a Cheshire Cat to keep, he looks a bit impish or devilish but I think he's charming.  Both Cheshire Cats seem happy to have a zombie horde to join. They're one big happy, bloody family. Aren't they cute, in a bloody zombie sort of way?!

The Cheshire Cat on the left is the one I mailed off to my partner.  He's got a removable dead mouse that attaches to his hand. I was sad to send him off as I can't tell you how many hours I spent creating him, but it took a very long time. That's why I created a second simpler one for myself.  I really enjoyed creating these guys. I'm already thinking about more dolls I could make.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

A Girl & Her Dog

Having a pet is an important part of childhood.  Sometimes having a dog is a pain; like every time he eats her Legos, chews up a brand new Sklanders figurine or jumps up and scratches her because he's excited she's home from school.  Having a dog can be a pain but having a pet to love can also be great. Here she is giving Chunk a hug while he waited for the vet to come give him a check up.  He gets nervous, so she pets him and hugs him to make him feel better. What a sweet moment!

My girl loves to craft and paint.  Last month, she painted this picture of she and Chunk.  It's just so cute!  For back to school night she wrote ten important things about herself.  "I adore my dog Chunk!" was on the list.  It's a good thing because . . .

this morning he chewed up her stuffed bird. She was upset but she forgave him.  That's how it is with a girl & her dog.