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Sunday, August 29, 2010

Chalkboard painted cigar boxes


A friend of mine recently gave my daughter and I a half dozen wooden cigar boxes. My daughter was thrilled, immediately thinking of crafty ideas.
A few days later, she found a box of chalk that I bought and said "What's this for?" and I explained that I was making some chalkboard painted wood magnets. She said "So you have chalkboard paint?" 
So we decided right then that two of the boxes would be painted with chalkboard tops and filled with paper, pens, chalk and other art supplies.
First we deodorized the boxes which still smelled strongly of cigars with a quarter cup of  baking soda in a coffee filter. We just left it in the box with the lid closed for 24 hours. It worked very well.
Then we took different methods to paint it to see which turned out better. Her's turned out best. 
I sanded the top of mine, and put a thin coat of chalkboard paint on the box, let it dry an hour, then another thin coat, then another hour and one more thin coat.
She used a dark shade of card stock and cut out a square to fit on top of the box. Glued it in place with a thin layer of PVA glue, let that dry, then put on 3 thin coats of the chalkboard paint letting them dry an hour between coats. We both used foam brushes to apply the paint.


You can see the difference here. How very smooth hers turned out compared to mine. Even with sanding time, the wood quality is very grainy. It still works, but it's not as smooth. 
After they were done, had 24 hours to cure and we conditioned the chalkboards by covering them with chalk and wiping it off, we folded dividers out of card stock and glued them in.

(She loves everything blue this year)
We are letting them set plain for a bit while we decide how to decorate them, but they are usable right now and she likes the look of the cigar box with the shiny black top. She will put her markers, pencils and chalk in the dividers on the bottom and put in a couple sketch pads. 
I'll put origami paper and chalk in mine, plus a sketch book and a pencil for ideas.

We used FolkArt 2517 8-Ounce Chalkboard Paint, Black for ours, and I like it a lot better than the spray on chalkboard paint that I've used in the past.It's thick and spreads nicely with a foam brush and comes in just a bunch of colors.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Mediterranean Cooking In Alaska

We went to the local Greek Festival last weekend. It's a cultural event as well as being a fund raiser for the local Greek Orthodox Church, Holy Transfiguration Greek Orthodox Church.
There was dancing, there was perfect cups of syrupy thick coffee with a gorgeous crema on top. There was feasting.
So many kinds of food, so we all ordered different things so we could try as much as possible. Salads with marinated olives, kabobs served on pita breads with a tangy tzatziki on the side and baklava. Oh I do love the sweet, nutty layers of a real good baklava. Not the kind that all you taste is sweet, but the sort with sweet and spicy and nutty all encased in flaky layers of filo. *moans*
In a uniquely Alaskan moment (remember, Anchorage is an urban community), an announcement was made to be careful. "A pair of black bears has been seen in the area. If you see them when you are walking back to your cars, wait and let them leave the area."
Part of the raising funds is to try and build a new church, and towards that goal, they did what a lot of churches did and printed a cookbook.  Tastes Like Home- Mediterranean Cooking in Alaska has lots in common with other church cookbooks. It's filled with just tons of family favorite recipes. Hundreds of recipes separated into appetizers, salads, main courses, desserts, etc. A difference though is that all these recipes are checked. They've all been tested, organized, edited and checked for availability of ingredients by one woman. Laurie Constantino. (link is to her cooking blog, well worth checking out)
It's a cookbook filled with traditional recipes, tips on variations contributed by members of the church, and adaptations to traditional recipes to ingredients that can be found in the US and Canada more easily.
The cookbook has some Alaskan variations, halibut and salmon for example which are so easy to get fresh here. But comparable substitutions can be made. If you have an interest in Mediterranean cooking, this is a great resource.
You can find the cookbook for sale here. I really recommend it.
Oh yeah, and it has the recipe for that baklava.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Composition Notebook Style Pencil Boxes

Print at 100 ppi! These were a lot of fun to make, but I'm afraid that I still haven't gotten more ink to print up a model. I hope you like them.
Click on the images for the full sized versions.



If you have a moment, and a Threadless account, I have a few slogans up to check out.



Friday, August 20, 2010

Wood Necklace Project- super easy and quick


I'm so happy with how this turned out, and they are very easy to make and modify.
You'll need wood shapes, sand paper, paint, a drill, a strand of plastic beads and a couple big jump rings, and Mod Podge
You can also use decoupage, stickers, rhinestones and glitter to decorate.

The shape I picked up was a bat shape. I love Halloween. Really truly. 
First I decided how I wanted it to hang from my strand of beads. Since it's a bat shape and the head is below the wing tips, I drilled holes on the wing tips.


Removed the label, and sanded it smooth on both sides. Then painted one side, then the other with acrylic paint. I used DecoArt Metallic Blue with a bit of a purple mixed in. On the front, I sprinkled glitter on it. 
After that dried, I coated it with a thin coat of Mod Podge and let that dry. Repeat on the other side. I got some Mod Podge in the holes, and just used a scrap of wire to clean the holes back out while it was still wet. 
Then another slightly thicker coat of Mod Podge on the front, and I put the rhinestones on that. The rhinestones have a sticky back, but it didn't seem secure enough. Putting them in the Mod Podge made them a lot more secure. 
After that dried, put the jump rings in the holes and hang it from the strand of beads.
Super easy, super quick. Now I want to get a lot more shapes and make a bunch more of these.

I used my Fiskars craft drill. The craft drill is a nice non-powered option for wood and plastic and I use mine on resin, polymer clay, wood, plastic toys I want to make into beads and other light craft drilling. 
The beads I used were part of my collection of throw beads from Mardi Gras. I have hundreds of strands sent by friends hanging on my bedroom wall. For people who don't have hundreds of strands of Mardi Gras beads, you can get the same sort of beads at party supply places and sometimes at Claire's and other similar accessory stores. If you have lots of Mardi Gras beads you want to get rid of, you can send them to me!
This is another fun project to do with kids. With very young kids, I used to use thick tempera paints with mine. I'd pick 2-3 colors that worked harmoniously together so they wouldn't  turn to mud and I did the sealing. With slightly older kids, decoupage on simple shapes make very fun necklaces that can reflect interests. For tweens, teens and adults, almost any scrapbooking technique for embellishment will work on these sorts of necklaces.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Citrus gift boxes- 3 sizes!

I just finished the listing for these box templates at my Etsy store and made up these.
I made all 3 sizes in all 3 fruits. 100 ppi, but the templates in my Etsy shop are 300 ppi, and 3.75 for all 3 templates.
As you can tell from the photo, I need to refill my ink cartridges! If your cartridges are fuller than mine, they will print out better. :) Click on the images for the full sized versions. Also, if you liked my watermelon box, take a look at my entry in the current Spoonflower contest. The theme was surrealistic fruit. I made a watery watermelon!








Book Review- Decorating With Papercraft

Decorating with Papercraft: 25 Fresh and Eco-Friendly Projects for the HomeDecorating with Papercraft : 25 Fresh and Eco-Friendly Project for the Home by Clare Young is a new and fun collection of paper projects.
The introduction includes a bit on the history of paper and the tools and techniques you'll need to complete the projects in the book.
Then you get to the projects. The projects use all sorts of paper, from tissue paper to card stock, re-purposed paper like from pages of books, newspaper or maps. They are diverse. Really showing this wonderful medium to it's best advantage. The projects are well explained with complete supply lists and templates.
Techniques include paper mache, folding, cutting, piercing, piecing, decoupage, sewing, folding curves and others.
Some of the projects are things you'd expect, pinatas, stab bound books, and photo cubes.
But then there is a lot of whimsy that would be wonderful for decorating. A cute airplane covered with old maps that would look great in a child's bedroom. A mobile of pretty little birds in patterned papers. Delightful decoupaged dimensional letters that would look good on a shelf. Many kinds of flowers made out of different materials, and a wonderful tissue paper wind sock that would blow and move very easily even indoors because it's so light.
There are also designs that are very stylish. Simply but impeccably made, they would look gorgeous in any home.
Lampshades, mobiles, candle shades, bowls, books, and sculpture, this book has a lot of great ideas.
I liked every project in this book, and found it inspirational for gift giving ideas, projects to do myself, and projects that I could do with my teens. My favorite projects are the Asian Flying Fish wind sock, the Airplane Mobile and the Simple Bowl.
You can get the book directly from the publisher here, or you can get it from Amazon.com (The link is an affiliate link and helps pay some of the costs of maintaining this site.).

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Paper punch pins

When I first envisioned this, I was working on an easy way for my daughter to make pins based for her fandoms that didn't involve me pulling out my button machine and trying to figure out where the cutter to go with it is. After testing the idea with a safety pin, a scrap of card stock from an empty cereal box and a piece of a crossword.. I got inspired to make a few using some of my other punches.

Any circle tag design would work as well. Including the name tags I posted a couple days ago.
Just print out the design, use a 2 inch circle punch to cut them out, and glue to a second 2 inch circle cut from card stock. Great use for using cereal boxes! Then tape a safety pin to the back. If you need to write on the front or color them, do that, then cover with Mod Podge. The crossword puzzle pin was made using this method and a 1 inch circle punch with a tiny size 0 safety pin. 
For the punched pins, I got a little fancier. Using regular pin backs and gluing them in place with a strip of paper. 
Cut two circles of decorative card stock, then punch your design on the color you choose for the top circle. For the apple design, I coated the bottom layer with glue then put on some red glitter. The leaf is cut from a separate piece of green card stock and covered with green glitter and glued into place. The top pink piece has the dots and the apple punched out to show the glitter coated card stock under it. Glue everything into place, put on the pin back, then cover with a couple coats of Mod Podge. The other 2 pins have punched appliqu├ęs. The blue and pink one has a second circle cut out of the pink with a 1 inch circle punch, then that has a heart and more dots punched. Put the whole thing together, cover with Mod Podge. The witch pin has the black top layer with a 1 inch circle punch to make the full moon, then I punched the witch from the black and put her in flying across the moon. I put a light sprinkle of silver glitter on the first coat of Mod Podge, then sealed over that when it was dry.
 

Super easy!!! Almost anything you'd do as a circle gift tag can also be done as a pin, or you could even make the pin the gift tag and write a note on the back and sign it then attach it to a gift.

Alaskan Fry Bread- printable recipe!





Alaskan Fry Bread  Serves 8

Alaskan fry bread is different than fry bread down south. Instead of being made with baking powder, water, flour and salt, it is made with yeast, flour, dry milk,water, salt, and usually some sort of sweetener. Just like a yeast bread recipe.
Traditionally, I've seen it served hot with a drizzle of honey, or with jam made from local berries.

The first recipe I learned was:

1 cup of milk lukewarm (made with 1/4 cup instant dry milk and luke warm water)
2 tsp. yeast or 1 envelope
2 Tbs. sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
3-4 cups flour

shortening or oil to fry it in

Sprinkle yeast in the milk, let it set for a couple minutes to make sure the yeast is alive. If the milk gets a bit foamy, it's alive.
Stir sugar and salt into the milk, then add 2 cups of flour and stir it in.
Slowly add the rest of the flour, when you can't stir, knead it in. You might need a handful more or less of flour.

Set in a greased bowl, cover and let rise for one hour.
After it rises, punch it down, and split the dough into 2, then each of those pieces in 2,then each of those pieces in 2. 8 balls total. Roll the pieces into a ball shape and pat and pull them flat. Cut 3 or 4 lines through the dough and stretch it out slightly.
Set the pieces aside and heat up the oil.
Again, traditionally, Crisco is used because it kept well. I use canola oil.
Put 3 inches of oil in a heavy big skillet. Heat it up.
When the oil is hot*, put in the dough, a couple pieces at a time. Fry until it's golden on one side, flip over and fry the other side.
When it's golden on both sides, pull out and set to drain on a couple paper towels.

*Mom always checked the oil by sprinkling a bit of water in on her finger tips. When it skittered, the oil was hot enough. I don't recommend this method because it's just barely possible it could cause a grease fire by causing oil to come out of the pan

Well, I love baking bread. I make up recipes for bread regularly. So it was only natural that at some point I'd start playing with my old fry bread recipe. My family is wild for whole wheat breads, and I like fry bread plain. Nothing on it, but just a little sweeter.

So here's my family's fry bread recipe:
Again, we do use instant dry milk.

1 cup luke warm milk
2 tsp. yeast
1/4 cup honey!
1 tsp. salt
3-4 cups of whole wheat flour

shortening or oil to fry it in

Same steps, and sometimes I'll add in a bit of cinnamon. It's one of my favorites for packing along when we go hiking or on a day trip. I'll pack it layered in an air tight box between paper towels. That helps keep it very soft.

A little history, if you want to skip it, just scroll down to the printables!
My mother came up to Alaska in the 60s as a Vista volunteer. It was one of the best times in her life. She taught school in villages, and came away from it with a deep abiding love for Alaska, and the people and way of life up here. And the occasional craving for Spam and pilot bread. The first recipe is the one I learned from her.
The beadwork on the printable is based on Athabaskan beadwork. I'm half Athabaskan so it seemed appropriate. Athabaskan beadwork before missionaries and traders was based on geometric patterns. That changed with missionaries and glass seed beads. Now most traditional Athabaskan beadwork is floral motifs done in couching method on moose hide or other rough tanned leather. The motif I chose is Alaska's prickly rose.
The printables are at 100 ppi, click on the images to get the full sized version. If you print them on US letter sized paper at 100% they will have perfectly even borders.

Blank version





Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Printable Name Tags


Working on a bunch of things at once. I really need to work on getting better organized.
These are some 2 inch circle name tags I made up. Later today I'll be posting a project that also uses 2 inch circles that you can use with these. Or you can just print them out, cut them out, put some re-positionable glue on the back and use them as is. I hope you like them.
You can download the 300 ppi PDF file here. It has a whole bunch of colors on one page.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

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