Thursday, December 27, 2012

What A Merry Christmas It Was

I'm ashamed to say that when Christmas time comes around I sometime get a case of the Gimmes.  I really have no problems making a wishlist and have no shame in making one.  My mom asks for it.  It makes her life easier.  I don't spend a lot of money on myself save for the occasional new release DVD that I can't pass up, a really good sale at Old Navy, or new workout clothes.  So it's fun to fantasize about bigger ticket items like a Kindle or a Keurig. 

I got a lot of gifts this year.  Paul and I both tend to go overboard and my mom goes overboar every. single. year.  She loves buying gifts for everyone and seeing their faces when they open the perfect gift.  And every year she says she's going to cut back.  And she never does.  I guess I get it from her.

But this year, even though I got a ton of gifts (including the aforementioned Kindle and Keurig), those had nothing to do with this being one of the best Christmases I can remember.  It may even be better than the year I got a Fisher Price record player, but that was a really great year, so I'm not sure.

This year, for the first time since Paul and I have been Paul and I, he didn't work on Christmas OR Christmas Eve.  we were able to spend all our time with our families and each other and it was really nice.  After shifting some schedules we got to spend quality, non-rushed time with both our families and we were able to focus on the moment instead of rushing to get to our next destination. 

We got to open gifts together just two days early, which beats our previous record by about a week (This year we opened them on the 22nd at about 11 PM.  Last year Paul called me while I was at work at least a week before Christmas and told me I had to come home righ away because he just couldn't wait any longer.)
Paul loves me enough to encourage my mania and buy me a One Direction hoodie.
We got to watch our niece discover all her gifts from Santa (even if she was burnt out before she'd even made a dent. 

We got to discuss merits of eating ranch dressing with pizza. 

We got to see my cousin DeeAnn and her husband, Jac, who we hadn't seen in three years.

We got to watch the people we love open the gifts that we spent so much time picking out. 

Sunday, December 9, 2012

12 Crafts of Christmas: Clay Pot Christmas Tree

I became obsessed with this project and decided I needed to do it when I saw it on Pinterest.  The inspiration comes from The O'Donnell Nest.  We approached the project in different ways, but I love both end results.
Clay Pot Christmas Tree
What You'll Need
Clay pots in varying sizes. The second smallest size will be used for the third tier of the tree and the base. I played with all the sizes in the store until I foun a combination I liked. That's right, I sat criss-cross-applesauce in the middle of that aisle stacking pots and it's okay if you do the same. 
Clay Dish. To find the right size, I turned all the dishes upside down and set the largest pot on them until I got to the one where the pot resing just outside the ring on the bottom.
Light green paint. Obviously I chose spray paint, but if you want a different color you can use acrylic.
Maroonish red paint
1-2 round sponge brushes. I used two so I could have size variation.
Brown Felt
 Wooden star. Mine is from the wooden craft section of Michael's.
Hot Glue
Yellow paint
Sponge brush
Dowel rod. It needs to be thin enough to fit into the hole in the bottom of the pot.
Knife or small saw
What You'll Do
1.  Paint your pots.  You're going to paint all the pots but the base and the dish.  I sprayed a coat of white paint first to lighten up the clay and cut down on green coats. I sprayed them upside down first and then right side up.
2.  Once all your pots are dry and looking snazzy, it's time to paint your "ornaments." Dip your round sponges in paint and polka dot the pots until you're happy.
3.  Once everything is dry, attach felt to the inside of the pot using hot glue.  I just did a strip around the top.  This will keep the pots from sticking to each other when you dismantle the tree for storage. It will also keep them from rubbing against each other when they next inside each other. the color doesn't matter because you can't see it once the tree is assembled.

 4.  Once the glue has dried, stack your tree.
5.  Put your dowel rod through the hole at the top of the tree and slide it through all the holes until it hits the plate that the larget pot rests on.  Use a pencil to mark the rod an inch above where it emerges from the pot.
6.  Using a saw or a knife that you don't plan on using again, saw off the end of the dowel rod. 
7.  Using a sponge brush, paint the star and the area of the dowel rod that will be visible.
8.  Once dry, hot glue the dowel to the star.
9.  Finally, assemble your tree.  Place the bare pot upside down, place the dish upside down on the bare pot, and then stack the rest of the pots on top.  Finally, slide your dowel with the star attached down the center of the pots. 
I may go back and add glitter to the bases of all the pots, but I haven't decided for sure yet. I was going to put it on the floor by the fireplace, but when I trie it out it was too small, so instead I put it on my hodge podge of a mantle. This cute little guy would also look great in a kid's room or an office that's in need of Christmas cheer.

12 Crafts of Christmas: Santa Planters

I was really on a roll this weekend with finishing up projects and actually writing about them.  That is probably due, in no small part, to the final paper deadline that is looming in my very near future.
I like to think that today's project could make a great gift for neighbors, teachers, coworkers...anyone! Also, like all my favorite projects, it's SUPER cheap to make.  I already had some of the items on hand (and you probably do too!) so I only spent about $5.
Santa Planters
What You'll Need
Clay Pot. Do you realize how cheap these suckers are?  Like, less than $2.  Crazy!
Red Paint.  If you've read any of my posts involving paint before, you know I spray paint everything and this was no exception. I use Krylon Fusion. You can get it at Walmart and it's the best I've found.
White paint or primer (optional)
Painter's tape
Black acrylic paint
2 Sponge brushes. You could just use one and wash between uses, but a lot of times you can find them for 20/$1 at Michael's, so I just stock up then and throw them away as I use them.
Metal Washer. I went to Lowes and got a pack of 4 for something like $1.50. 
Mod Podge
Gold or silver glitter
Hot glue gun
What You'll Do
1.  If you're using primer, apply a layer of it to the pot.  I just used .99 white paint to dull up the base color so I wouldn't need as many coats of red. Let dry.
2.  Paint the whole thing red.  I painted the inside too.  I applied 3 coats. I sat the pot upside down for the first coat and flipped it right side up for the rest.  Let dry completely between coats.
3.  Bring your pot inside.  Put painter's tape around the bottom of the lip of the pot. Mine wasn't perfect, but you can't really tell.

4.  Using a sponge brush and black paint, paint the area above the tape black, including the rim.  Let dry.
5.  Using a sponge brush, apply a layer of Mod Podge to one side of the washer. Immediately sprinkle glitter over the washer and shake off the extra glitter.  Set aside to dry.
6.  Once the first layer with glitter is dry, apply a thin layer of Mod Podge on top of the glitter and let dry. The top coat will help the glitter stick to the washer. 
7.  Apply hot glue to the back of the washer and attach to the pot's "belt."
I'm going to fill mine with homemade candy or cookies for a Dirty Santa party, but you could also put a plant in it (I'd get a plastic liner if this is the case), put some foam in it and make a cookie or cake pop bouquet, fill it with fresh oranges, or really anything that you can think of.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

12 Crafts of Christmas: Photo Coasters

Alright guys, I'm a slacker.  I promised you 12 crafts and I'm pretty sure I won't be able to deliver.  But that doesn't mean I'm not going to try.  Today's project is SUPER easy and anyone can do it.  And if you already have the basics on hand it will cost you less than $5!!
Photo Coasters

What You'll Need
Coasters.  Mine are tile and I got a set of four for $1 at Big Lots. You can also use cork. You could also make coasters out of tiles and cork.  Whatever floats your boat.
Mod Podge
Sponge Brush
What You'll Do
1.  Trace the coaster on the back of the picture, making sure the part of the image you want on the coaster is where you want it.
2.  Cut out the picture. You may have to do some trimming. Just eye ball things.
3.  Using your sponge brush, apply a layer of Mod Podge on the coaster.
4. Place your photo on the Mod Podge, smooth out any air bubbles, and let it dry. 
5.  Once dry, apply a thin layer of Mod Podge to the top of the picture, brushing all in the same direction.
6.  Once dry, apply another thin layer of Mod Podge, brushing in the opposite direction from step 5.  I brushed horizontal first and vertical second.
7. Let dry completely.
I experimented with an already pretty blurry picture of my god son and I love the way it turned out.  I made a full set as a gift, but since the person I made them for may be reading, I'm not sharing those yet.  Although I did use the leftover coasters to make two more for Paul and myself.

I think the possibilities for these coasters are endless.  Along with photos you could use favorite passages from books, children's book illustrations, sheet name it! They would make great stocking stuffers or gifts for teachers.