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Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Anchors Away

I'm a bit teary-eyed while working in the office today. This morning, my older brother David is headed out on another deployment. In case you've missed it any of the 35798234 million times I've bragged on him before:

 He's a Naval Academy grad

A super incredible helicopter pilot (he flys SH-60s)

A husband to my awesome sister in law Melissa

And a soon to be dad!

He's also a hero. A real live hero.  He doesn't wear a cape, a mask or have any known super powers {other than the uncanny ability to tell the worst jokes ever}, but he's strong, brave, smart, and honorable. And he's willing to risk his life to keep us safe.

As a pilot in the Navy, he's based on a destroyer than travels the globe, so he doesn't really have the same options that a soldier in Afghanistan would even have. The phone calls can be very few and far between, internet access is hit or miss, and once he's left on a deployment, there's no coming home until its over.

And unless you've been under a rock, you also know that Melissa is due with their first child in 4 WEEKS! {first time aunt here - super excited!} While this is a pretty exciting time, its also quieted by the fact that when Liv is born, David won't be there. When she and Melissa come home from the hospital, he won't be there. When she starting teething and crying and sleeping two hours at night, he won't be there. Hopefully he'll make it back in time to see the crawling, hear the talking, and still change a few diapers, but its still more of a sacrifice that I can imagine any new dad facing. And he's not alone. Men and women in our military make unthinkable sacrifices like this every day. For you and me.
We just celebrated Thanksgiving in a country that is truly truly blessed. Please don't ever forget to be thankful for those who serve and those who have made the ultimate sacrifice.

If you'd like to pay it forward, here's an idea. Send Dave a little care package while he's gone, just to let him know that you're thankful for his service. Keep in mind he has limited space on the ship {no life size Scarlett Johannson cut-outs please}, but he loves getting granola bars, chocolate, crystal-lite individual mixes, anything Alabama football, and cigars! Short on hour of time and a couple of bucks? Send a note or a postcard telling him thanks and that he's a rockstar.

LT David M. Thomas
Attention: Air Department
USS Stockdale (DDG-106)
FPO AP-966-1205

If nothing else, please keep him and his family in your prayers along with the thousands of other servicemen and women. While we sure complain a lot about this country, it'd be hard to find any greater place in the world to call home.
Thanks for hearing this sappy sister out today. You guys really are awesome too! God bless.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Hand Stamped Coasters - tutorial

This tutorial is an obnoxious example of how many mistakes I make while working.
 Crafting is all about trial and error so don't get frustrated if it doesn't work out right away! 

As for me ... I usually make mistakes because I'm distracted with other things. Laundry, work, cooking dinner, balance the checkbook, unpacking boxes, designing my new office .. the list goes on and on! My brain never seems to stop spinning! In a lot of ways, this tutorial went all wrong. But the coasters are done and hopefully I've saved a few of you from a couple of the same mistakes!

On to the next!
I learned to make these coasters a long time ago, and I've had tons of people request me to make them or to teach them how. These coasters are great in your home and also make awesome wedding and housewarming gifts!

 - 4 ceramic coasters*
 - a stamp
 - StazOn Ink Pad**
 - acrylic gloss sealer


*I use the 4x4 ceramic almond tiles from Lowe's {they're about $.25 each!} but really you can use any tile that isn't glossy or too dark to show the ink
**Make sure to use StazOn ink. Other inks will run easily.

Stamp your design on to the coasters. Make sure to allow a minute or two for the ink to dry.

Have a damp paper towel handy in case you smudge the ink or don't get the stamp in just the right place. If you catch it really quickly, you can usually wipe off the ink and try again. I smudged here:

I also didn't heed my own advice to have the damp paper towel handy and I spent time trying to take a picture of the smudge for you guys ... so my ink didn't get wiped of fast enough.

Luckily, these things are only a quarter ... and I have a second coaster tutorial coming up that I can still use this one for. Hi silver lining!

After your ink has had time to dry. Take your coasters outside to spray the sealer. 
Important advice!!: Spray the sealer lightly from a distance of atleast 18 inches away! If you get too close and get too much sealer on the coasters, even the SprazOn ink will run and then you'll have a hot mess.

Again, I wasn't thinking clearly when I sprayed my first layer of sealer and I forgot this important rule. I caught it quickly and might have salvaged the coasters but check out what can happen. See how the ink gets a bit blurry? 
Don't do this, ok? Ok.

You'll want to do 5-6 light coats of sealer. Give it about 15  minutes to dry in between layers.

If the backs of your tiles are as rough as mine ...

... you might want to cover the back of them to protect your furniture. I like to super glue a thin piece of cork on the backs. You can buy this in a roll at any craft store. The felt tabs that go on the bottom of furniture also work.

And you're done.

Check out these coasters that I made with a sheet music stamp. You can create all kinds of options!

Now go pour yourself a cold one. And by all means, use a coaster! 

Check back in a few days for another spin on the coasters!

Back to School ...

Check out how I modified my wonderful book page wreath into a fabulous Christmas present for my mom (a first grade teacher). 

Still loving the heck out of this project. Planning on making a smaller wreath for my own kitchen window.... my NEW kitchen window! So excited about the new house!

Friday, November 26, 2010

book page wreath {tutorial}

First, let me say that I love love love this project. I've seen variations of these wreaths in the blog-o-sphere for awhile now and I've been meaning to make one for forever!

Two words of caution:
 - This project isn't difficult, but it does take some time. Mine took me a full movie ... so like, 2 hours ish?
 - Also, the post is very picture heavy. Hopefully that'll be more of a help instead of a hinderance.


 - a book. I used an old copy of Pride & Prejudice
 - hot glue gun/glue
 - styrofoam wreath

Tear out your book pages. Mine took me about 250 pages so be prepared with a book that has enough paper for this.

Grab your first sheet and bend it a few times. Crease it if you'd like or just kinda roll it.

Attach it to your wreath

Sometimes it helps if you glue one end of the page folds together though. Put a dab of glue in the folds of one end.

Create an overlapping layer all the way around the wreath. Make sure to leave a 1-1/2 inch overlap on the inside of the wreath too.

Now flip it over

 Using the same folding technique with the pages, glue a layer on this side of the wreath. This time glue your inside flap down to the wreath

Now take that inside edge from the back and glue it up to the inside of the wreath

Here comes the next layer. Do the normal folds with your page and then add a couple other small folds on one end of the page.

Glue a layer of these all around the wreath

Add another layer of these again!

For the next layer, put the normal folds in the page, then stick the page on the inside of the wreath with about 2 inches showing on the backside.

Glue to the inside of the wreath.

And also the other end to the backside of the wreath. 

Now the layers of your wreath are done! 
All that's left is to add in some filler in places you might need it. For this, do the same folds in a page as you have been doing, then fold the roll in half and cut off part of end. Put a dab of glue on the same folded edge and stick this page in any slots that look a little thin.

And its done!!

There are so many fabulous options for this!:

I also love the idea of adding a red or green ribbon to hang it and maybe a few berry sprigs at the top to make it a Christmas wreath. Or maybe use sheet music for it instead? 
To add a ribbon, just stick the ribbon to your wreath with a couple of stick pins. Will hold perfectly without adding more glue.

Does anyone else get just a little sad that it does take destroying a book to make one of these? Still, all so gorgeous!!