Thursday, January 30, 2014

Home: Our Happy Tree on Canvas

In the 6 1/2 years Kyle and I have been married we have moved 8 times. Yes, we've moved twice in one year, two times. We have been pretty transient. College will do that to you. Now that Kyle has a "real" job, we bought a home, and we are grown up people, we are finally settling down in one place for a little bit.

We haven't ever felt compelled to do much decorating in our apartments. We knew we wouldn't be there long, so we just didn't. 1 1/2 years later, our home is still the same way. Most of the walls are bare or have one lonely picture hanging on them. It's time to change that! We're here to stay and we want to make our home feel like we belong there. 

Kyle is a designer. It is his profession, but also it is innate in him. It is what he loves to do. He has a constant flow of ideas running through his head. Not a little trickle, but a real stream of ideas. And it is starting to rub off on me as well. Kyle had an idea to create a large painting of a tree to place above the couch in our living room. 

We wanted it bright and happy. We love color! We went with lime green and as close to cyan as I could find. It is hard to find a good cyan. I was surprised at what a difficult time I had finding just the right blue. P.S. That lime green is the same green Kyle used to put an accent stripe around the sewing desk he made for me last year.

We laid out our canvases, on our guest bed of all places, down in the basement away from child hands. We put on a light coat of gesso to prime the canvas for painting. And then got to work.

I don't have any pictures to show of Kyle actually painting on the tree. My hands were full and I just didn't think to use a tripod. Kyle made a file of the artwork and using our projector, projected the image onto the wall. I held up each of the six canvases while Kyle worked quickly to paint in the image.

It turned out pretty awesome. We both love it. But, it needed a frame. Last summer, Kyle tore down our old decrepit deck, and saved the reusable wood. He took a few pieces and made a frame. 

The frame really finishes it off. What a happy tree! And that is the beginning of the never ending task of decorating our home.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Kids: Sight Word Memory

Confession: I am not very good at pretend play. I just get bored with it and have a hard time coming up with anything to contribute. I do enjoy watching and listening to Hailey imagine a whole world beyond my grown up visibility. One of the best things of Hailey getting older has been the addition of new ways to interact with her. She is now old enough to play games, and she loves it. Oh yay! I love to play games. That I can do. Even slow, easy to play, mind numbing games... I can do that. And am happy to.

Hailey has a pretty good understanding of letters and the sounds they make. She has begun sounding out words and showing some interest in reading. She isn't completely ready to read yet, but on the path to get there. In an attempt to help enlarge her interest in reading I made a memory game using sight words.

My idea is that even if she isn't in the mood to learn to read the words at the moment she will at least be able to start recognizing those words as she is exposed to written words just in the everyday things we do. For example, today at church we were singing out of the hymn book. I pointed at each of the words as we sang and she followed along. She excitedly picked up on the word is a couple of times and pointed it out to me. 

The game is played just like any other game of memory. There are 36 total cards, 18 matching sets. Flip over the cards two at a time, if they match keep them and go again. If they don't, flip them back over and it is the next person's turn.

To make things a little easier, while we're still learning to recognize each of the words, instead of turning the cards back over when they don't match we leave them flipped up. I find it can take too long the other way and she loses steam. This way the game goes a little quicker, but she is still able to pick out matches. The more we play it, the more words she will learn to recognize.

Follow the links below to download your own copy. There is one file for the fronts, another for the back. Print the fronts out on cardstock. Reload them back into your printer and print the back on them (you will need to enter in 6 copies for the back, there is only 1 page in the file.) Each printer is different on whether the already printed side goes face up or face down. On my printer, Canon MP970, it is down.


Looking for more sight word games? Check out for more fun games to play with your beginning reader! There you will also find strategies for teaching sight words to your child and master lists of sight words, including flash cards to print out to assist in teaching your budding reader to learn how to read.

Linked up at:
We Made That
The Life of Jennifer Dawn
Peek-a-Boo Pattern Shop
The 36th Avenue

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Kids: Edible Apple Igloos

Brains are funny. Funny amazing. It baffles me how much information is stored away for another day. Sometimes we really have no clue that our experiences have been carefully tagged, organized, and tucked away. That is until that tag pops up again and our brain jumps into action, "Look, here! Remember this. Or this..." And then we are shot back into time.

My brain went to work one day when Hailey brought home from preschool a picture of an igloo she had colored. Instant memory: I was sent back to when I was about her same age (four). I have a distinct memory of making igloos out of apples, peanut butter, and marshmallows. I mentioned that to my mom, "I remember making igloos, did we do that?" Baffled, she said, "You remember that!?" Nice work brain. (High five!)

So... what did Hailey and I do? We made igloos!

Here is what you need:

  • peanut butter
  • marshmallows
  • apple
  • cutting board
  • knife (one for cutting, one for spreading peanut butter)

step 1: Core and cut your apple in half. If you have a handy-dandy apple corer that would be ideal. I don't, so I just cut away the core as best as I could with a knife.

step 2: Spread peanut butter on the outside of the apple.

step 3: Stick marshmallows to the peanut butter all over the apple.

Ta-da! An igloo. Now go eat it!

Linked up at:
We Made That
The Life of Jennifer Dawn
The 36th Avenue

Monday, January 20, 2014

Home: Painting the Front Door

We bought our house 1 1/2 years ago. It was built in 1987, which really isn't that old. I was born before then, so it can't be old! But, it has reached the age of needing updates. Mostly what it needs is a good coat of paint everywhere. One of the first places to start was our front door. Take a look at the before.

It's just so blaaaaah... and the paint is chipped to the metal. 

 I hated that when people came to our home, the first thing they saw was our old beat up front door.

The inside wasn't much better. When the previous homeowners painted the walls and trim they did a pretty sloppy job of it. They painted right on the door and the hinge! 

 I'm not a fan of the wall color, but that has to stay for now. But look, the front door is the same color. It sinks right into the wall. So boring...

My husband is awesome. Seriously awesome. He spent 1 1/2 days painting that front door. It took quite a bit longer than we originally thought it would. But it was so worth the effort. 

To start with, since the paint was chipped down to the metal, we had to strip all of the paint off the door. There it is, bare, right down to the metal. The red spots are areas where Kyle filled in a couple of larger dents in the door with some bondo (auto body filler).

Then came priming.

And then painting. Look at that bright red! We really wanted a red-orange, which it is. But it is heavier on the red side than we originally wanted. I still love it though! The color we chose was Grenadine by Behr. It was nice and bright and happy. And definitely not boring.

Now look at that happy door! Isn't that more inviting?  

We even painted the inside the same color. I love the pop of color it adds. It was definitely needed.

And now our house is easier to find. It's the one with the bright red door! (Yes, we still need to paint the trim. It's somewhere on our long list of updates to make.)

Friday, January 17, 2014

First Birthday Cupcake Toppers

I think parties are fun. Who doesn't? Party pooper... In college we threw some fun parties, like a fish themed birthday party for our goldfish. Yes, our goldfish actually made it to his birthday. He was a trooper of a fish. Seriously. It was a sad day when he died. We had a funeral.

But I digress...

I really don't go all out for parties. I'm not a big party planner. I think themed parties are fun. But they can get expensive! It adds up quick. But, I feel like when it's your very first birthday you deserve a little something special. Even if it's just a few streamers, a pile of balloons, a special birthday shirt, and a fancy topper on your cupcake.

After screen printing Keira's birthday shirt, I used the same design to make some cupcake toppers. I changed the wording from I'M #1 to KEIRA IS #1.

 I Love them. That's right, with a capital L. I made a birthday poster for my little girl and even put one on there too.

Want to make some? I made a file with five different colors, purple, orange, green, blue, and red. I took off the name, so they just say #1. I assume most anyone else wanting to use them won't be throwing a party for a little girl named Keira. Keira isn't that popular of a name. :)

Print the file out on cardstock, cut the fingers out, and tape a toothpick to the back. That's it!

Click on the image to download the file, or follow this link.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

DIY Screen Printing: Nylons, an Embroidery Hoop and Mod Podge

For a few years now I have wanted to try my hand at screen printing. I think it looks so fun! So when my baby girl turned one and needed a 1st birthday shirt, I thought I'd try it out.

You know those foam fingers at sporting events? They say things like, "We're #1!" and are larger than life. How about a foam finger #1 birthday shirt? I had this idea in my head for a few months and was so excited about it. So, I did a little internet research on at home screen printing on the cheap, and got to work. I'm no expert, but I'll show you what I did and what I learned.

First you'll need:
  • old nylons, or other tight woven thin material (I read mention of using tulle. I started with that, but the fibers weren't tight enough, the gaps were too big and it was hard to get good definition. It looked pixelated. If you understand the way resolution works, it is the same concept.)
  • embroidery hoop
  • mod podge
  • fabric paint (I used acrylic paint and mixed it with a fabric painting medium)
  • paint brush/toothpicks
  • credit card or other object with a straight edge, it must be wider than your image

step 1: stretch the nylon tight over the embroidery hoop and secure it into place. 

step 2: You can do this next step two ways. You can print your image out in reverse and place the hoop on top of it with the nylon side up. (This is what I did.) Or, what I think would be easier, is to print your image out just like you want to see it and put the nylon side down so it is touching the paper and then trace the image onto the nylon with a pen or marker.

step 3: Using mod podge, paint any areas of the design that you don't want to be color when you screen print. For me it was the outline of the hand. Make sure you flip the hoop over so the nylon is not touching the paper (the image will be reverse), otherwise it will stick to the paper as the glue dries. 

I used a toothpick to paint the detailed areas and a foam brush to do the bigger outside areas.

step 4: Wait for the mod podge to dry. It will dry clear and harden.

step 5: Now your screen is ready to use! But first you need to mix together the acrylic paint and the fabric paint medium. Follow the instructions on the bottle. For me it was 2 parts paint to 1 part medium.

step 6: Now the real fun begins. Place your screen, nylon side down, on top of your fabric. Squeeze or pour a generous amount of paint in a line across the top of your image. Now, do as I say, not as I do. I took this picture on my very first attempt, and I didn't do it right. The paint should go all the way across your image and be enough that as you pull it down the screen you have enough to fill in the image. This is done in one step. Only pull the paint across the screen one time, so be sure that when you do it that your card is sliding over the whole image. Not like how I show it in the picture below.

I definitely recommend practicing. It took me a few tries to get the hang of how much paint and how much pressure to use.

When you are ready, make sure to remember what you learned, and don't go against your better judgment. Like I did. I said not to go over the image twice, but I did. When I printed on the actual shirt I was so nervous it wasn't going to come out right that I went over it a second time and put too much paint into the image and lost some detail. Darn it!

After the paint dried I went back over it with a toothpick and touched it up. I pulled out some white paint and mixed it with the fabric medium to add the details back into the image.

step 7: To heat set the paint, after it has dried, place a cloth over the image and press an iron to it for a few seconds.

This method of screen printing isn't perfect. But it was cheaper, and it worked for what I was using it for. I actually think it gives a pretty good distressed image, when you do it right and don't use too much paint. :)

Little one year olds don't care what their shirt looks like, plus they look cute no matter what they're wearing. That's the advantage of being a baby. Actually, in the end I'm pretty happy with how it turned out. It was a fun project and definitely something I'd give another try at.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Sunbeams Lesson 1: I am a child of God

I am currently teaching the 3 year olds in primary at church. At first I was a little skeptical and not so excited about it. Turns out I really enjoy it. Of course. They are so fun and cute. And full of energy. Plus they are easy to teach and actually answer questions, even if they aren't sure what the answer is. How could you not enjoy being around people who are excited over what the color name of their crayon is? Like orchid or apricot. Or macaroni and cheese.

I team teach, meaning I teach every other Sunday. I like it that way. It can get to be a bit much to teach every Sunday. I did that with the 12-13 year olds. Never a break. Anyway... I taught the first Sunday of the year. The first lesson in the manual is the most simple, yet the most profound lesson. I am a child of God. This simple understanding is one of the greatest principles of the gospel. We are children of a Heavenly Father. We are created in his image and have every potential to be just like him, as we have the same potential to grow to be just like our earthly parents. I love this.

As a child in primary long ago, I remember receiving a small circle with the phrase I am a child of God written in it. It hung on my bulletin board even until I was a teenager. I may actually still have it preserved in a box with other special items from my growing up. In preparation for this lesson I decided to make something similar for my class.
For my class I typed in each child's name so it was personalized for each of them. I know they don't read yet, but the first word kids learn to recognize is their name. And they love to see it written. I also wanted to personalize it for each of them, so hopefully they might begin to internalize the idea that they truly are a child of God.

I printed the circles out on cardstock and cut them out ahead of class. I brought tape with me and put it on the back so it could be stuck to the child's shirt.

I like to give the kids some sort of handout to take home with them that relates to the lesson. Mostly this is so the parents know what we talked about, so they can reinforce it at home if they'd like. My daughter is 4 and I can hardly ever get an answer out of her when I ask her what her lesson was about. Usually her response is the very broad answer of Jesus.

At the end of class I had a coloring page for the kids to color and take home as well. Coloring in sunbeams is a requirement, isn't it? :)
The coloring page is actually one from the nursery manual, I just revamped it a little bit. You can find the original from here.

After putting in the effort, I thought, why not share it? Click the images above or the link below to download the PDF files.

i am a child of God circles
i am a child of coloring page


I realize it has been about 7 months since I last posted. I haven't abandoned this blog. Promise! I have more to come. :)
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