Stepping stones

This week’s project is from a kit. Anya wanted to make something for her Mimi’s birthday. I suggested these stepping stones. Mimi has been working to cultivate a garden, and these would look lovely in it.

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As luck would have it, I was swamped with work all week. The night before Mimi’s birthday was the first free time I had to work on this project with her. And she picked that night to stay over at Mimi’s house. So I did the mixing and pouring on my own.

Which turned out to be a good thing. You have to use a disposable bowl, and the paper bowls we bought at the store were just big enough to hold the mix. Plus, the pouring and mixing were very time consuming, and Anya is not long on patience. Best that I handled that part.

I poured the plaster in the mold, tapped out as many bubbles as I could, and let it sit overnight.

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The next day, Anya painted it.

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The kit came with enough ingredients for four stones, and also small ceramic tiles and plastic gemstones that can be embedded in the reverse side. We’ve already made (though not painted) a second stone, so we have two more to play with. Not bad for $10.

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Fairy house

Build a fairy house with the kids, they said. It’s simple! And fun!, they said.

Mom posted some pics of fairy houses to my Facebook page, and Anya fell in love. So I picked up some stones from the craft store (when I was a child, I’d have been able to pick them up from the edge of the street, but now I have to buy them), some glue, some grout, and a few accessories. Washed out a juice bottle and a vinegar bottle. Started saving little odds and ends. This was going to be easy. Pinterest said so. And we all know Pinterest never lies.

I worked on this thing off and on for months.

Logistics were my biggest downfall. Who knew it was so hard to get things to stick to plastic bottles? First I couldn’t get the bottles to stick to each other. Then I struggled to mask the bottleness of the bottles. I finally ended up creating cones from a couple of disposable plastic cups, and a dome from the top of a soda bottle. But making those stick was also a struggle. It didn’t turn out the way I’d pictured, either, but by this point I was ready to just go with it. Fairies are not master craftsmen, okay?

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I was just going to glue the door on the “main” bottle, but Anya insisted I cut an actual door.

20160924_112823I cheated with the windows, though, and claimed the clear plastic was the “glass.” Because cutting bottles with an X-Acto knife is dangerous, and I am clumsy.

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There was no actual admission to the vinegar bottle. I didn’t bring that to Anya’s attention. No way was I cutting two bottles and gluing the openings together — I’d never finish with the thing then.

Door applied and windows framed, I began to coat the stuck-together bottles with glue and rocks. And watched the rocks slide right off. I tried mosaic glue. I tried craft glue. I tried superglue. I might as well have been using my own spit.

I wanted to scrap the whole project at this point, but Anya was invested. She was making this house not for just any fairy, but for the Tooth Fairy. Presumably to win better tips for lost teeth. (Of which she has none yet. She plans ahead. Rather like her mother.) I was not allowed to quit.

This was not in my What to Expect books.

There was a fair amount of cussing at this point. Anya abandoned me and went to play in her room. Mother-daughter project indeed.

Finally, I tried hot glue. It wasn’t perfect, but it held the stones in place most of the time. Which is more than I could say for the other glues. However, using hot glue meant Anya absolutely couldn’t help, because I was burning the crap out of my own fingers. She’s 5. Nuh-uh. This project was my baby from that point on.

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Hot glue also held the bottles together when the superglue failed. I just hoped it would continue to hold while I put the grout on.

Periodically, a rock would fall. After a while, I even stopped cussing them.

Finally I managed to cover the juice bottle with hot glue and pebbles. And remembered that rocks are heavy. I began to worry how weighty the finished project would be. But I was in it now. Time for the vinegar bottle.

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It took me hours, because I had to apply hot glue to each rock individually, then stick it on. Often, a rock would fall after I’d moved on to a different area, and I had to restick it without knocking any other rocks off.

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Which, I should add, was not at all an easy task.

Hundreds of rocks. Almost an entire bag of hot glue sticks. And close to a full work week’s time. The end result, I have to admit, looked cooler than I’d hoped.

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And then I started applying the grout and, as I’d feared would happen, the rocks started melting off of the bottles like snow drifts in the rain.

You think I was cussing before? If we had a real swear jar instead of an imaginary one, I’d have owed it a week’s grocery money.

Anya was amazing about the whole thing. As excited as she’d been about this project, she was super supportive about the end result. “It’s okay, Mommy. You tried your hardest. Sometimes things just don’t work out.”

I may suck at hot Pinterest projects, but I must not be an awful mom.

And I have my kitchen table back now. Just in time, too; we almost have all of the ingredients for our next batches of soap, and our newest venture — lip balm! Watch this space.

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Geode display cabinet

The geode display cabinet was the other painting project I mentioned last week. It was a quick Saturday project with Anya that we’d been putting off for ages.

Anya is, like her parents before her, a rock hound. We are amassing quite the collection of geodes, and much to my pride/chagrin, they’d taken up residence in my office bookshelf. I love geodes, but I like easy-to-clean shelves more. So I bought this paintable curio cabinet on Amazon for about $10, and have been negotiating what color to paint it ever since.

I thought black would look stunning. My bookshelf is black, and the geodes really popped against the dark background.

Anya is not a fan of black. And it is her cabinet, after all. But Mommy is a control freak. A super busy control freak, so we sat on the discussion for about 6 months.

I eventually let Anya win this one. Because it is her cabinet, and I would feel like a heel telling her what color it should be. She chose purple.

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It turned out to be a brilliant choice. As so many of Anya’s style choices are. I should seriously stop questioning her on these things.

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It was simple to hang; it’s so lightweight that three Command Hook velcro strips did the job. (And stabilized the cabinet, so little fingers can’t knock it askew.) It looks great in her room. It looks great with the geodes. I could not be more pleased with the results.

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As we anticipate more geodes in our future, we’re talking about picking up several more cabinets, painting each a different color (she is really into rainbows). When that happens, I’ll write an update post.

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Fall kitchen decor

Ever have a project snowball out of control? This went kind of like that. But I could not be more pleased with the results.

A while back, I bought this paint for our fairy house. (Yes, we’ve got one of those going, too. More on that later.)

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Gorgeous brown, isn’t it?

It was for this little cutout, which will be the front door.

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I know it’s a bird cage. It’s the best I could do.

During my latest crafting binge, I put together a fall bouquet for our new (to us; it’s actually 100 years old) kitchen table. I love our old centerpiece, but it’s small; it looked better on our old table. (Which is also small. And, incidentally, also 100 years old.) Time for something larger.

A few fall picks, a Styrofoam ball, and an Easter basket with the fabric lining removed took care of that.

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Not pictured: My little ham.

Arranging this only took a few minutes, and I had plenty of creative energy left over, so I decided to paint. (More on the other painting project next post. Paint all the things!)

Since I had the painting supplies out already, I decided to paint the aforementioned cutout. And realized that the color goes beautifully both with my tablecloth and the centerpiece I just made. So…

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I kind of went overboard.

 

As you can see, the basket was not always that color. In fact, it was the last thing I painted. While I was painting the other pieces, I couldn’t help but notice how the darker brown made the fall colors pop. So while they dried, I pulled the flowers out of the basket and gave it a coat.

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The basket was originally very light.

It was a pain in the butt, painting this thing with a sponge brush. I don’t recommend it to anyone. Spray paint is your friend. But it does look nice now.

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A holder for…holding things.

I picked this up from the Target Dollar Spot, without much idea what I planned to use it for. I could imagine so many purposes for it that I became a little deer-in-headlights with indecision. So I flung myself headlong into finding a purpose for it by painting it. And it worked; it now resides on my table, holding napkins and the salt and pepper grinders. (If I should ever have company, it can also hold silverware. But I might need a bigger table for company.)

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And a tray, because it’s neat to set things in other things.

This is another Dollar Spot find. I bought it because it was cheap and looked cool. Plus who doesn’t need a tray? Thing is, I could never figure out where I needed a tray. Again, I painted it to make myself find a use for it. It now lives on top of my fridge, where it holds bread. (I can’t store bread in the pantry. We forget about it, and it turns green. So I have to keep it someplace visible, yet out of the way. This allows me to corral the bread. Just go with it.)

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My spokesmodel.

See, the basket works so much better with the tablecloth and the flowers now. It’s like I planned it. Er, I mean…look at how thoughtfully I planned this! Everything goes together so brilliantly. Just like I planned. Right.

I’d forgotten how much I enjoy painting things like this. I should do it more often.

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Cucumber green tea

Variation on a theme here. We found some cucumber green tea essential oil that promised spa-like relaxation, and had to give it a try. Nothing fancy here — just emerald glycerin soap with essential oil and green tea leaves.

They are heart shaped because Anya is 5.

I was a little underwhelmed when they came out of the molds; they’re a deep hunter green, rather than the leafy green we decided on when we were mixing the soap.

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Like the rainbow hearts, the true beauty in these requires light.

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I love how these look almost mossy, with the darker leaves in the lighter soap.

Technically speaking, these aren’t my best pouring effort. You can see the fissures in the front soap in the photo above; the bottoms are a bit bubbly, as well.

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But they smell amazing, and are beautiful in their own way.

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This was a small batch; only three bars are available. (Anya, as always, had to take a sample bar.) Check her Etsy shop for the listing.

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Icing Hearts

Now that things have finally settled down (read: We’re finally well again!), Anya and I are back to making soap. And once again, I’m learning that Mommy does not always know best.

Anya wanted to use the honey almond fragrance. I tried to talk her into coloring them a golden peach shade (y’know…honey colored), but she insisted on red. (Red!) And hearts. Had to be heart shaped.

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Red honey almond.

It’s your show, child. Do your thing.

And she did, and it was actually brilliant. Because as I stirred the coloring in to the goat’s milk glycerin soap base, it started to look like this:

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Swirly!

And we were instantly reminded of her birthday cake. That icing wasn’t almond flavored (it was the store-bought kind), but the icing my mother used to make was, and I’ve always had a soft spot for almond extract in my own baking.

Plus, when we poured the soap into the molds, it looked decidedly like frosting. So we dubbed them Icing Hearts.

Once they were set, we were pleasantly surprised to see that the hard swirls had softened. The effect was less candy cane and more pink marble. Lovely.

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They smell lovely, too.

Anya, of course, had to pose with the finished product a bit.

All in all, we are pleased with this batch. And happy to be making soap once more.

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Anya has an Etsy shop now!

Sorry for the extended absence. The kids and I have been passing around some truly potent Kid Crud since the beginning of July. Hopefully we are on the mend now, though, and can resume crafting — and posting!

It’s taken me forever, but I finally got her Etsy shop set up: Anya Sakura Designs.

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We hope you’ll check it out. And be sure to follow us here for sneak previews and backstories of upcoming projects!

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