July 29, 2011

how does your garden grow?

My grows with towering 8-foot weeds!

"Look, they're all growing in a little group here. Doesn't it look they're supposed to be there? Let's just let them go a while. Maybe they'll have some kind of flower… like a wildflower."

July 27, 2011

story stones – part 2

I told you I was going to get back to these. And I still want to do some more! The idea originally comes from Emily Neuburger of Red Bird Crafts.

This go round the baby was content in her chair so I could make some of my own. I was trying to think about what kind of things would help my older daughter use the rocks to tell stories. I did a few of the weather. One of the beach, mostly because I wanted to use the frayed end of the blue fabric as water. Together we did a bird and a flower using a button. I did one of my daughter and grandma made another to represent her favorite blanket.

July 25, 2011

sweet embroidery!

The AIGA has launched a new blog, Design Envy. One of the very first posts featured these beautiful new book covers that are done in embroidery. How awesome is that?!

Jillian Tamaki, the artist who did the covers also made this crazy monster quilt. If you needed proof that embroidery can be awesome and stylish and strange and anything but grandmotherly, well, here you go.

I love the way in which various mediums and artforms intersect. Here is an illustrator trying her hand with needle and thread which leads to the production of a book cover, which is a combination of embroidery, illustration, graphic design, and typography.

I am not there yet, but this is a craft I fully intend to experiment with someday.

July 22, 2011

July 20, 2011

you blogged it: paint party

Painting with kids in a large-scale fashion is something I've done (inspired by The Artful Parent, one of my favorite blogs). However, the mom bloggers over at Couturier Mommy take it to a new level with their annual paint parties.

We were inspired to do a little outdoor painting ourselves. The oversize cardboard canvases came from the purchases of furniture and a television. Never let a good box go to waste!

Two halves of a box propped up together became an easel. Then it became a house to be painted inside and out. Then artist children ended up with paint in their hair!

July 18, 2011

you blogged it: story stones

We recently enjoyed an extended visit from the cousins. I assisted my mom-in-law with finding some great craft inspirations for keeping the kiddos (minus the two babies) busy.

Now I get to share our "you blogged it, we did it" stories!

One activity we did was story stones. I first found the idea on one of my favorite craft sites, WhipUp. Full credit goes to Red Bird Crafts as seen on both Etsy and in the blog world.

We hand selected the best rocks from a heap at the nearest landscaping supply place. We filled up a bucket for a mere $2! The stones aren't polished or anything but they were a good size for this craft.

Ours ended up being a bit more influenced by the characters and illustrations already adorning the fabric, but that's ok. Only the adults were wielding the fabric scissors so it worked out better this way. The kids were more than happy to select the perfect rock and spread the Mod Podge out. The googly eyes were a fabulous and funny touch.

 I hope to revisit this craft soon for myself and use more abstract fabrics to create shapes that could be used in storytelling. In fact, I was reminded of one of the final pages of the super-cute children's book Penguin. Everything Penguin "says" is drawn as little pictures. It's a lovely picture book that has become a favorite at our house. May it inspire your own story stone adventures!

My husband made this cute one!

July 15, 2011

fresh homemade garden art

And now the great reveal! Here are my mini stepping stones on display in the garden. Ooh la la!

And my favorites:

This one is my favorite. I used seashells, coral, and other beach finds that I have saved from past trips to the ocean. At last I am validated for saving boxes of bits in the basement!

This one features buttons, beads, and a vintage clip-on earring courtesy of my great-grandmother.

This is one that my toddler daughter made. I love how free form it is!

PS I should note that the garden itself is a work in progress. Unfortunately, the part that shows up in this photo is the section that I pretty much stripped out last summer and haven't added anything new to yet!

July 13, 2011

small scale stepping stones

Craft inspiration! My husband, who has been busy cleaning the garage out, let me know he had some concrete leftover from last year's patio and pergola project. I considered doing garden stepping stones but wondered where I would put them. All my secret garden paths were done in the same stone as the patio. And there's only so many you can artfully arrange amongst plants.

So my first thought was that I would make smaller stones. We'd be making our own molds from whatever we could find around the house. I tend to save things like plastic food containers for my daughter to use for mixing paints. So I raided my container bin for a lot of different sized circles: think cottage cheese, large yogurt, potato salad, ground coffee, raisins. We found plastic worked great. Cardboard only worked out if it was waxy or lined with foil. The oatmeal container was not a winner as the cardboard soaked up all the moisture. For taller containers, we sawed off just the bottom part.

We were in the midst of preparing the molds and gathering the decorations when I had another idea. Could these be hung on the fence in our garden? My brilliant scientist husband, who perhaps is also a bit crafty, created these wire and nail holders that he put through the middle of each mold. Then the hanging wire would be firmly embedded inside the cement! Woo hoo!

For decorations we sorted buttons, beads, broken jewelry, seashells, coral, marbles, tiles, and rocks into containers by color. I had also saved any of our dishes that had gotten broken. We use Fiestaware so the colors are great. My husband and daughter used a hammer and a thick plastic bag to break them into smaller mosaic-worthy pieces.

The best directions I found online, including specifics on mixing concrete, were these. Most sites recommended letting the cement sit for 30 minutes before decorating. I think that's a bit long. Some of the last ones we were working on needed to be dampened with a mist of water to keep them useful. Also, we took the precaution of covering all of them with a towel for the first day or so to prevent the surface cement from drying out faster than the middle and bottom. We were expecting them to be hard enough to cut off the molds after a few days but the first one crumbled as it was not dry yet. We ended up waiting 5 days before taking them out.

The fun part, of course, was the decorating. My 3-year-old really got into it. I think making these could be a great family activity to do with kids (and grown ups!) of all ages.

July 11, 2011

make room for treasures

A final post inspired by the Ottawa Hills Neighborhood Garden Tour.

Along the wall between the house and the cement, is a special place set aside for treasures. It is filled in with pebbles and then finds get nestled in. Special bits of nature are also arranged on the exterior windowsill. As one who can't get enough of the beauty to be found in seashells, rocks, fossils, seed pods, and such this simple idea was so pleasing to me.

July 8, 2011

beautiful repurposed birdbath

Still gushing about inspiration from the Ottawa Hills Neighborhood Garden Tour today!

This simple cement birdbath was repurposed as a gorgeous planter! I especially love the use of the dark pebbles around the succulents and cactus. It reminds me a bit of water, which is fitting. I want to add more sculptural elements to my own gardens and this one was very inspiring to me. I especially like that it serves double duty by adding further varieties of plant life to this garden.

July 6, 2011

mirror mirror on the garden wall

Once upon a sunny Saturday the family and I adventured out on the Ottawa Hills Neighborhood Garden Tour. I am not sure my 3-year-old daughter quite understood why we were looking at other people's gardens but there was a playground session at the end so she was happy.

The neighborhood was built in the 1920s. The homes are lovely and full of the kind of character only found in older homes. The yards are on the smaller side and I adore seeing how owners transform them with multiple beds, winding paths, unique treasures, and magical nooks awaiting discovery. Between tending children and consulting the map, I only ended up taking photos of one garden that had several things that inspired me. I will be featuring the ideas I took away in this post and the next few.

One thing that I loved about this garden was the use of decorative mirrors. I like the idea of decorating the walls in your outdoor rooms just as you would in your indoor rooms. Plus, when placed thoughtfully, they reflect back a beautiful view.

This one was hidden in a remote corner that would have otherwise remained shadowy and unadorned.

I'm going to be keeping my eye out now for interesting mirrors when I am out on a thrifting or antiquing adventure!

July 4, 2011

homemade hula hoops (thanks fellow bloggers!)

Once upon a summer day I was reading a blog with a list of kid activities. One was for making your own hula hoops! One click and I am reading all about it and even watching a video tutorial. My husband and older daughter happen to walk by.

Next thing you know they're out the door to the hardware store and within an hour we've put to use extra underground sprinkling hose we already had and crafted up some new summer playthings.

Woo-hoo for the world of crafty bloggers!

I can't seem to find the video I originally watched (of course!) but I did find this one by Jennifer of CraftSanity fame. To soften the ends of the tube she used a hair dryer. The video tutorial I watched suggested dipping them in hot water, which is what we did.

July 1, 2011

raindrops keep falling on my head

We had a series of rainy days a few weeks ago. When I stepped outside to put out the recycling I noticed the silvery beads of water on the lily leaves. I fetched the camera and wandered the yard taking shots – a creative breather. I think the baby must have been miraculously sleeping in her chair instead of on me! I almost think it looks like I staged the drops but I promise I did not!