Whooooo needs Valentines?

Hi! Wow, it’s been a busy couple of months. For those of you who read the blog – thank you. And I apologize for the absence! We were in Scotland for three weeks visiting family, and then arrived back home to random snow and school closings. You’d think that would allow time for more posts, but I’m sure some of you know it’s a tiny bit challenging to get your own things done! But it’s also a treat to have your babies with you a little more and enjoy warm snuggles after playing in the snow together.

And…all of a sudden it’s almost Valentine’s Day! How did that happen? If you are in need of a last-minute Valentine for your children, I’ve created a free printable that you can share with friends: Flourish Owl Valentines  My daughter loves owls this year, so I hope you like these little birds! You can set this up on letter-size card stock, print at home, and trim. If you have an Exacto knife, it will be easier than cutting with scissors, just FYI. I gave my daughter Scotch glue dots and she attached little erasers I bought from Michael’s art supply (I’m there a lot, you’ve probably figured out by now). They had a little bag of owls, hearts, and fox erasers for about $2.

Happy Valentine’s Day to you from me. Enjoy your loved ones and stay warm!

Owl Valentine

Enjoy my free, printable Valentine! My gift to you.


Fun with letters

I hope you had a great Thanksgiving yesterday! Recently, I spent a fun afternoon with my friend Karen shopping for a new project. We found those fun over-size cardboard letters at JoAnn’s Fabric and Craft store. Karen got her own letters and decided to decorate those for her nieces, and I painted these letters for my daughter. I used a few coats of glitter paint and the letters really sparkle when the sun comes through her bedroom window. BTW, the pom pom flowers were used as decorations from my baby shower! Yes, that’s been five years. I’m truly not a hoarder, but she loves them and so do I. My lovely friends Karen and Jennifer made them. I really dislike the term ‘Black Friday’, but I do like getting deals. If you’re out shopping the Black Friday deals today, I hope you find some great gifts for those you love!

painted letters

Handpainted letters with my daughter’s name over her bed.

Family Art Project

So, the holidays are coming! And there’s never better motivation to spruce up the place as knowing visitors are coming soon. Our guest room is upstairs, down the end of a loooooong, trés dull, close-fitting hallway. You know that scene from Star Wars where the compactor walls are closing in on Princess Leia and crew? That’s pretty much what this hallway feels like, width-wise. And seeing that Thanksgiving is next week, I don’t have time to paint or replace light fixtures (or the inclination quite yet), but I decided to garner the help of my little in-house art assistant and do a series of small canvases to liven up the boring space. Eventually I plan to give the hallway a fresh coat of a warm café au lait color, but there isn’t enough time at the moment. (Excuses, excuses!) However, I’m really pleased that my daughter also loves to make art and will sit down and paint with me for a long time. Instead of being a perfectionist about the canvases, I decided just to have fun and reduce the palette down to two/three colors (turquoise blue, red and brown) and keep them all pretty simple. I got a package of 6 square canvases from Michael’s Art supplies store (at 40% off), covered our kitchen table in plastic and we had a blast. Results are below. Does knowing holiday guests are coming motivate you to work on your space? What kind of projects are you doing to get ready for this holiday season?

Little artist

Our little artist at work!

Group of Paintings

This helped to add interest in our endless hallway.

Wall Group 6

All six paintings, a mommy and daughter collaboration.

Elegant squirrels!

That title probably sounds crazy, but these squirrels definitely have some bling (for being fluffy rodents)! This was created for the pumpkin table at my daughter’s kindergarten fall festival. I needed to create a look for the Fall-themed party. But how to make Fall fun for kindergarteners, without having the time (or straw) to create a custom scarecrow? Leaves on their own are beautiful, but I wanted a character…. Squirrels! Kids love squirrels. Our family from New Zealand was fascinated with the gray squirrels here in Virginia, as they don’t have squirrels in New Zealand. The Kiwi kids squealed every time they saw one during their last visit. So, taking inexpensive foam-core board, I drew outlines for squirrels. After brushing on a smooth coat of ModgePodge, I shook on a thick coat of silver glitter. After drying, they were quickly cut out with my trusty Exacto knife. Then I added googly eyes and more of those pre-cut leaves from Michael’s Art Supply. Because the wind was supposed to be high that evening, I hot-glued them to wood boards to avoid them skittering away. The kids loved them! Plus, a bonus is that after the festival, I am using them to decorate our fireplace mantel for Thanksgiving. Love double-duty items!


The squirrels apparently love to frolic in the leaves.

Easy Autumn Bunting

I was asked to create a quick decoration for my daughter’s kindergarten class’ “pumpkin table” at her school’s fall festival. With just a day to put the decor together, and with everything else going on during busy October, I decided that a bunting could be quick and easy with a lot of visual impact. I couldn’t find the spicy orange chevron pattern that I wanted, so I created one in Adobe Illustrator. I printed the pattern, and added a green patterned paper that I already had on hand. I cut all of the patterned paper into 2.5-inch-wide strips, about 4 inches tall. Using a standard hole punch, I punched two holes on one end, and using my handing round-cornering tool (bought at Michael’s Art Supply store), then round-cornered the two corners of the opposite side from the punches. I planned to make my own glitter leaves, but during a quick lunchtime walk through Michael’s Art Supply store (again), I found glittery fall leaves in the perfect colors in a dollar bin! So much easier and faster (and couldn’t beat the $1 price).  I hot-glued leaves to random bunting flags, threaded basic jute twine through them all, and voila! SO easy. And it got lots of compliments at the festival. FYI, I discovered that rectangular flag bunting is a lot less time-intensive than triangular flag bunting. The whole project took about an hour.


Autumn Scarecrows

Last fall I was asked to help create a scarecrow design for Agecroft Hall’s scarecrow contest, which benefits area non-profit organizations. Along with construction-savvy couple Maura and Patrick, we created this swing set design for a local preschool (shown below). It won! So this year, we have made another scarecrow for the same school and the same contest. Say hello to Mother Goose! This year’s scarecrow is titled “Hay Bale Tales”. We racked our brains trying to find out a way to make a goose scarecrow that would withstand wind and rain for several weeks. Thanks to Maura’s old IKEA bubble chair holding up the middle and creating the overall body shape, we did it pretty easily. She has lovely, twirly corn stalks for a tail. Patrick (scarecrow builder extraordinaire) cut out several wood shapes and a rectangle for me to paint, which are now trompe l’oeil feathery wings and a storybook (detail, below). Fingers crossed that we help the school receive some money again this year!

Mother Goose Scarecrow

Our 2013 Scarecrow – “Hay Bale Tales”.

Blackbird pages

A closeup of the storybook. It’s all freehand lettering, so don’t judge too harshly!

Swing set scarecrow

Last year’s winning swing set entry.