Tuesday, September 22, 2015

DIY: Martha Stewart Crafts: Tiny Aluminum Dish

I was recently sent some Martha Stewart crafty supplies, & when I opened the box my heart went *pitter-patter* at the sight of her Metalworking Alphabet Stamp Set. I immediately went into brainstorm mode. I LOVE brainstorm mode: Notepads filled with scribbles & doodles....hot cups of tea...plus, candles + music to help expel the crafty joo joo. And so I came up with these sweet little lightweight dishes, celebrating & welcoming my favorite season. But this craft can totally be customized & personalized for anyone, any day of the year.

This supply list might look cray-cray. I'll explain...
• Martha Stewart Metalworking Alphabet Stamp Set
• Aluminum (I purchased a 12" x 30" roll that is .005 thick/36 guage. As an option, you could recycle a pop can. There are loads of tutorials on YouTube to show you how to properly cut a can.)
• Embossing pad (A cutting mat would work too. Just not a hard surface. Something with "give".)
• Small round shape to trace (My cup is 2 3/4" in diameter. Because of the lightweight nature of the dish you'll be making, I would keep the maximum measurement of the item you trace at 2 3/4".)
• Small round bowl for shaping (My bowl of choice is that metal egg poacher. But any heavy duty metal/plastic/wood/glass bowl would work, as long as the base is shallow & will shape your aluminum into a nice shallow dish/bowl shape.)
• Scissors
• Shaping tool (I used the round knobby end of that knitting needle. You want something that is small with rounded edges. I even experimented by using the back handle of those green scissors & it did the trick too.)
• Small hole punch. (1/8" is best!)
• Embroidery thread in your color(s) of choice
• Needle (small enough to go through holes you punch into the metal)
• Permanent marker
• Paintbrush
• Black paint
• Small paper towel or cloth/rag

Ok, now that all your weird supplies are gathered, let's DO this.
Trace your round shape onto the metal using the permanent black marker. Cut out this shape. As an option, you could wear gloves in this step, because the aluminum COULD cut you. I lived dangerously & didn't wear gloves.

These next steps involve the shaping of your flat piece of aluminum.
1. Center your aluminum circle shape above your shaping bowl.
2. With both hands, carefully + evenly push this shape into the bowl. It will buckle & fold all over. That's normal. Don't worry.
3. Again, with both hands, flatten those buckles & folds against the sides of the bowl with your fingers as much as you can.
4. Use your rounded shaping tool to smooth out the buckles & folds. Do this by holding the bowl with one hand on one side, & use the other hand with your shaping tool on the other side. Push & slide the tool all over. I found it easiest to start in the middle & rub the tool to the outside. I went side to side, up & down, in circles, just all over. The longer your work, the more smooth it will become.

Now you can punch holes evenly around the edge of your bowl. My small hole punch (pictured) actually broke. Not because of the aluminum. It was just headed in that direction. So I went out & bought a smaller punch---the 1/8" size. And I LOVE it!! So much better.

We can now personalize our bowl. Think of a word or a letter or something very short (this is a small dish afterall) that you want to stamp on your metal. It is so easy to slide letters onto the Metalworking Alphabet Stamp Set. The little notches make sure you're lining things up perfectly. Just remember: slide your letters in backwards so that they appear in the proper direction when you stamp them.
I actually had trouble using the stamp set at first. I couldn't get it to stamp a full word onto my metal. I even tried using lighter/softer metals, but it still didn't work. After playing a while, I DID have success stamping one letter at a time. Maybe it's just me. I don't know. I saw other crafty bloggers using the tool with no problem. It's me, isn't it? *sigh*

When you're stamping, use your embossing pad. Apply a lot of pressure, with a slight rocking motion. 

At this point, your dish will be a crunchy mess.

All you have to do to remedy that is to insert it BACK into your shaping bowl. Use your shaping tool to smooth out the edge you just punched & any other place on the dish that needs flattening. JUST BE CAREFUL NOT TO SMOOTH OVER YOUR WORDS. Go around the letters you just stamped. 

There. It's all smooth & awesome now.

Ready for the details?
Cut 3–3.5 feet of embroidery floss. (The amount you'll use depends on the number of holes you punched & how big or small your bowl is.) I used the full amount of threads in the floss. Double up your floss, bringing the ends together, so you're left with a loop at one end. This is how I secure my first stitch (as seen in 1). I used the blanket stitch all around the edge of my dish, as seen in the photos.

When you've stitched all around the dish, knot the end, Slide it under a nearby stitch & cut the floss.

You could also stitch it this way. It's more simple: just in one hole, around & through the other, etc.

I wanted the words on my bowl to stand out a bit more, so I smeared black paint all over the letters. 
(You could use any color of paint. Ooh, you could even coordinate with your floss color, too!)

With a flat paper towel, carefully wipe away the paint. The paint on the flat surface will disappear, but the paint that got into all the grooves & dents & crevices of your letters will remain.
On some dishes, I had to do this a couple times because I either wiped away too much paint, or my initial stamping didn't get deep enough into the aluminum. 

This stamping set is super awesome & I love it. It's made of sturdy plastic & comes with multiple letters, numbers & symbols.

Here's a sideview to give you a different perspective.

Use your nifty little dishes on a dresser or side-table to hold spare change, special treasures, or rings & things.

Hello Cozy Fall! I have missed you.
Welcome back! We're gonna have a splendid time together...

This post was written as part of a campaign with Martha Stewarts Crafts & their new fall & Halloween crafts + products. I was compensated with free crafty supplies. The opinions expressed in this post are my own. 

Monday, August 31, 2015

Rock Balancing & Things

The girls & I enjoyed a few hours at the river on Friday, in celebration of the last weekend before school starts. The Mr. dropped us at the Farmer's Market where, before venturing to the sandy shores near our shady tree, we spied the fruits & vegetables of the season all pretty on display. We also saw many species of doggy, too, which meant Pazely was in heaven! And Zoey got a giant watermelon-flavored sno-cone, which meant she was in heaven. And there was live music & samples, so I was, you know. Heaven. 

We ventured down to the river & made a comfortable mess of things, setting up a temporary chill-out zone near our tree. We call a particular tree at the park "our" tree. Or sometimes I refer to it as "my" tree. It's actually two trees, side by side. But we always sit to the left side, near our tree, not the other one. It's funny because sometimes we'll arrive at the park, making the usual beeline for our tree, & there will often be people sitting under our tree. I'm like, "Why are they sitting at our tree?" You know, like no one else is allowed to park themselves at these particular coordinates except us.
While we were at the park this weekend, Zoey took me directly under our tree & told me to look up. So I did. There were spiderwebs, no, spiderblankets & spidervillages all up inside it. Like, everywhere. Just thick, thick, all over.
I thought, "Ew. My tree is gross." So now I sit BESIDE it.

We were lucky enough to be the only ones at the river on this overcast day. Pazely wondered why we were the only ones. I told her it's because nobody else was crazy enough to step foot in that cold water. Pazely thought it was neat how her legs & knees felt numb.


Have you seen stacked rocks before? I just think they're so cool. I tried to explain to the girls that stacking rocks is actually "a thing."
"It is?" they asked.
If you're unfamiliar with it all, you should look up images of stacked rocks or rock balancing sometime. There are even such things as rock balancing artists, & a Rock Stacking World Championship held annually in Texas. Who knew?
I'm definitely not on my way to the championship, but stacking rocks sure is fun to do. Pazely had a hard time getting her wobbly stones to stay put. So she made some mortar to aid in the wigglyness. That's pretty much against the official rules.
She's fired.

Here's a video I took of our afternoon at the river. I love the Cameo app for my iphone, by the way. But, golly, I need to pay more attention to the horizon. Crooked city! Haha! *sigh* If I had more time in my days, I'd devote them to learning about film-making. It's a secret/not-so-secret passion of mine.

HAPPY PLACE from Nikki/WhiMSy love on Vimeo.

Pazely started school today. The 6th graders got the whole school to themselves a day early. I love that. So now Pazely gets to join her sister in the middle school ranks this year. Just wait until the halls get crowded tomorrow though. God be with you, little one.

The girls have had their first-day-of-school outfits picked out (& laid carefully out) for 2 weeks now. They even had a practice run trying on their outfits. Is that normal? They've never done that before. But they are both SO excited to go back to school.
My big 7th grader (who is taller than me, & I'm 5'8") gets to wear makeup for the first time. I remember my mom taking me to the store & picking out makeup before I entered 7th grade. It's a rite of passage, so to speak. I can clearly picture the Cover Girl palette of eye shadow my mom & I picked out, in shades of grey & pink & blue.

Pazely's ensemble included a mix of this & that. But she loved it. A Peanuts cartoon shirt AND Peanuts cartoon pants AND lion earrings AND flip-flops AND rainbow colored sunglasses. And she rocked it all with a messy bun on top of her cute freckled head.

Just so you know, Pazely's first day at school was pretty much a success. She only got lost once &, unfortunately, dealt with a crabby teacher who couldn't seem to give slack to a newbie middle schooler. Shame on that woman.
Pazely has already picked out her two favorite teachers, she met a new girl (which was her goal this year, & the new girl happens to be her locker partner), she squeals nonstop when she thinks about going to school, & she has declared school lunches to be officially disgusting.

ME: Who did you sit with at lunch, Pazely?
PAZELY: I couldn't find my friends at lunch, so I just rolled down the hill.
*she pauses to pull a piece of grass out of her hair*
ME: Is that from rolling down the hill?
PAZELY: No. It's probably from when I was making grass angels.

I love that girl.
It feels good, once again, to get back to routine. In fact, I'm looking forward to putting the house back in order this first week the girls are at school. This summer I have become an expert pile-maker. There are piles everywhere, strategically balanced like those rocks. Nothing artsy about it. Just a big ol' tall mess. 

Friday, August 21, 2015

Pazely's 11th Birthday

Twenty kids recently joined us for a party by the river. Miss Pazely turned eleven years old. It was a simple affair, nothing fancy, but lots of fun! 

The invitations were simply a boxed set of blank cards. The colors seemed bright & summery & perfect. We printed all the party info on the inside of the cards from our computer.

The decor consisted of a few bunches of balloons & brightly colored, disposable plastic tablecloths. I picked up several beach pails + shovels + sand toys at the dollar store, too, & scattered those around. The kids used those later in the party to play at the river.

Drink & food = a giant jug of ice water + fruit kabobs. (I love fruit kabobs. And all the kids did, too!)

We played a few wet games as the party began. The Sponge Relay, Water Balloon Toss, Water Balloon Fight, & The Frozen T-Shirt Game.

The dessert was absolutely easy to make & it satisfied the birthday girl's peanut-butter-lovin' heart.
Find the recipe for Peanut Butter Lasagna HERE.
The kids LOVED the dessert. One girl even offered to lick the pan. But, um, I thought that sounded gross. I didn't want little girl stranger saliva on my baking dish. So I politely declined her suggestion.

Most of the party was spent letting the kids play at the river, splashing, squealing & having a super time in the sunshine. It was a great day & I loved watching my sweet birthday girl have a splendid day!

Party favors, as you may know, are my most favorite thing. Usually I purchase oodles of prizes & stuff them into festive party-themed pouches for everyone. But this time 'round I found these inexpensive beach balls for each party guest to take home.
Boom. Done.

My girls' birthdays the past couple years have been much different than they used to be. I felt slightly disappointed that I wasn't able to pull off all the cute details & give immense attention to every one of those details this year. A skinny wallet + a busy schedule + this mama inflicted with bronchitis didn't really equal the party of dreams, but we pulled it off anyway.
At the end of the day I heard the birthday girl proclaim, "Mom, this was the BEST PARTY EVER!"
Even though she says that EVERY year, it was still a relief to hear her say it.
I'm just glad she felt the love.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Hi. Remember me?

Last Thursday marked the day, one year ago, that my grandmother passed away. My little family & I currently live in grandmother's residence. Her puffy recliner still sits in the corner of the living room, in the same spot it did when she was alive. Only now it is covered with laundry to be folded. Actually, when I look around, I notice there are multiple chairs covered in laundry to be folded. 
I've been doing a lot of thinking lately. I always think. 
Watching my grandmother fade away & turn into someone who was not my grandmother, changed me. Forever. I can't quite get back to the exuberant, full-of-energy, crafting-up-a-storm, create-or-die momentum I once had. 
(This blog is definite evidence of that.) 
You want to know what makes me feel accomplished these days? When I cook dinner for my family. It doesn't happen often. 

I currently sit, laptop on lap, legs outstretched on the sofa, coughing & wheezing with "the bronchitis". It has been a doozy of a summer, with this little mama sick the whole while. I'm a busy lady, with no time for this illness stuff. For reals.

The fam & I have been devoting our time & energies to a church the Mr. officially became pastor of in April. The church is in Connell, WA, a 40-mile trip from where we live. We are presently knee-deep in renovating an exciting Kids Ministry, which we are planning on launching in August, so we make the commute quite often during the week. I get to put a different set of my creative skillz to work, & it's rather exciting watching sketches turn into reality. There's no other feeling like a dream & a vision becoming something palpable. And there's something special about being united with a group of people who share the same vision. 

I have also been immersed in music, leading worship every week. What an awesome journey! Being in God's presence is an amazing thing. Although, this bronchitis bizness has been a battle. I think I have stretched myself beyond stretching. I have not had a chance to rest. Why do I feel so guilty resting? I'm at that "I can't" point. I can't. I just can't anymore. My body needs to heal. And so this is me, rambling on, visiting with you, resting. It's nice.

Sometime in the next 3 days I've got a birthday party to plan. I can tell my almost-11-year-old Pazely is getting nervous as her special day approaches, because her mommy hasn't had the usual celebratory frenzy & chaos about her that she should have right about now. Poor thing. I have schemed an outdoor party by the river. You know, so the sand & the water can do most of the entertaining. I see it's supposed to be 104 degrees that day. There may be melting party guests. I will let you know how it goes.

I hope you don't mind if I stop by more frequently to ramble & visit. 
Until next time...

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

DIY: Mag Bags

 I recently participated in my second art/craft show. (The first one was 7 years ago.) There are so many little things you have to do to prepare for a craft show. I'd forgotten how many little things. One of those small details I realized I'd forgotten about were bags for customer purchases. 
So at the last minute I made some bags from magazines. I thought they were so simple & cute. They are easy to make & perfect for such an occasion if you have small items that you can package up for your customers.

• pages from magazines
• scissors
• glue stick
• decorative scissors (optional)

To make the bags, simply tear out two pages from a magazine & glue three sides together.
If your pages adhere together all wonky, or if you have torn edges (which, most likely, you will have) then use your scissors to straighten the edges.
Optional: use your decorative scissors to create a fancy edge on the top flap.

 Tuck the items inside &, if you'd like, seal with a piece of washi tape.

Another quick idea: manually feed brown paper lunch bags through your printer!

Tuesday, May 12, 2015


I wrote this post as part of a paid promotion with Columbia Center Mall. 
The opinions in this post are my own.
Here's a fact: most moms think about themselves last.
Here's another fact: sometimes I want to be first.
(But I will never admit that or say it out loud or ever really pursue making that a reality. In fact, I almost backspaced that whole sentence.)

Which is why it was fun to take my mother out this weekend for some mother-daughter fun where it was all about us
Columbia Center (a Simon Mall) invited women of all ages to come out for an evening of fun on Friday, May 8th. The event was called Indulge, & it was themed around fashion & beauty–& fun!

Mom & I got there just several minutes after it started. The registration line was fairly lengthy, but it didn't take too terribly long to get to the head of the line where we received our wristbands (only 500 were given away) & instructions:
Step 1: Wear this wristband at all times.
Step 2. Have fun, girlfriend! 

Mom & I wandered the mall, privy to special discounts & offers in 25 shops. We tried on clothes, entered numerous drawings for prizes, & played games to win even more prizes. (The kind of games where EVERYONE is a winner. My favorite kind.)  We received tons of giveaways like full-size bottles of lotion, pearl earrings, perfume samples, candy, tea, & more!  We got a hand massage from Bath & Body Works & a cat-eye makeover from The Body Shop. (*meow*) We made a jar of bath sugar scrub to take home.  ("One of my fave things of the evening!" said this crafty girl.) We sampled smoothies & mochas & energy drinks & popcorn & cheesecake & pretzels & cinnamon rolls. (Holy yumminess, Batman. Tiger popcorn at Carmelcorn is AMAZING. It's caramel covered cheese corn. Sounds gross. Tastes non-gross.)
There was live music playing the whole time & an energy of ladies abuzz throughout. 

“Held right before Mother’s Day, Indulge events create a perfect opportunity for Moms - who always think of others first - to focus on themselves and enjoy a social evening of fashion, food and fun.” —Jordan Young, Director of Marketing and Business Development at Columbia Center.

There was so much to do that we didn't even get to it all. Looking back, I wished we would have taken the time to get our pics taken at the photo booth they had set up. And we forgot to enter the drawing for the diamond necklace & diamond earrings from Weisfield Jewelers. Because I'm SURE we would have won those.

I will definitely attend again. If you get the chance to go next year, be sure to grab your mom or some girlfriends—& get there early.  (Some shops ran out of giveaways before the night was over. *sad face*)

Now for the fun part...
I get to give away a $100 Simon Mall VISA gift card! 
(Gift card is good wherever VISA debit cards are accepted.)
Enter to win by leaving a comment on this blog post, answering this question:

If you could do one special thing for YOURSELF, what would that be?
>>>>*Please leave your email addy too, so I can contact you if you win!*<<<<
Winner will be chosen Monday, May 18th!
For a list of Simon Malls, click HERE.
*Contest for U.S. residents only.*

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Mother + Daughter Shenanigans

Because birthdays aren't complete without a slo-mo hotel bed jump with your mother.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Short film debut: SOCKS

My 12-year old daughter, Zoey, & I have been working on a short film for the past 2 months. On & off between school & Fiddler on the Roof rehearsals & cello practice & homework & appointments & life...
We were actually on one of our monthly date nights & decided to make a side trip to Target since Zoey was in desperate need of some socks. (Who gets themselves in a position of desperately needing socks? Apparently my kid does.) When I take my girls on date night, I try to think of creative things to do that go along with the theme of their personality. Zoey has recently gotten a YouTube account & loves making silly videos. So I thought we'd add to her collection on this particular date.

Someday, when I grow up, I want to have an expensive video editing program & maybe some other fun toys for making films. Until then, I'm using what I have. Which is very basic & rather sad. 
I'm learning so much as I stumble around making videos. (And having so much fun doing it!) I love piecing together all the clips & recording the narrative & finding the perfect music & then seeing how it all comes together. I love it all. I'm pretty sure I'm wearing out Google, constantly searching "How do I do this?" & "How do I do that?" 

I think it's funny that we turned a simple errand into a movie. We are rather proud of the results. I'm sure a year from now this will appear like a Kindergartner made it. But isn't that what is so cool about learning & growing? When you have a physical reminder of how far you've come, it's rather encouraging & exciting. 

I've been reading Zoey all your comments from Facebook & other social media sites where the video is posted. This specific video link is from Zoey's YouTube account. So, be sure & comment. You'll make a preteen girl super happy. She checks the view count, like, all the time.

We hope this film will make you smile.
Our aim is to put a little happy in your day.
(You could grab some popcorn if you want, but by the time it's done popping, the movie will be half over.)

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Macro Intermission

Sometimes you just need to go stick your nose in the bushes.
I've never heard anyone say that before. But I figure it pretty much equates to "Stop & smell the roses".
Except it's winter in my world & the roses are still hiding.

I was feeling restless & needed some inspiration + some vitamin D + some fresh air. So I took a casual stroll around the yard with my smartphone & little macro lens attachment. And I, well...stuck my nose in the bushes.

I love all the textures & colors.  I even spied spring.
There are so many fascinating things to witness when we become a spectator at close range.

Saturday, February 7, 2015

DIY: Cupid's Arrow

 So far, that pile of pruned apple tree branches in my parent's backyard has provided arms for our winter snowmen on that one day it snowed during Christmas break, & NOW for these Cupid Arrows. I recently made these with my 4th grade STAR Club crew. The kids went ga-ga over this project! My favorite thing about the arrows is the mix of the natural branch with the brightly colored embroidery floss.How about making up a bunch of these to give as school classroom Valentines instead of candy? 
Here's what you need to get started...

small handsaw
wooden stick/branches
hot glue gun
embroidery floss
cardstock (patterned or plain)
white glue
optional: thread for hanging arrows

 Cut a branch to your desired length. Then, cut a slit in one end (the larger end) as shown in the picture, approximately 1/2" down.

 Start wrapping the embroidery floss. To begin, wrap the end onto itself to secure. Hold the floss taut in one hand, while spinning the branch in the other hand. 

 To end one floss color, snip the end with scissors. Then, apply a couple drops of glue. Smoosh & flatten the loose end, spreading the glue around with your fingers. (The glue will dry clear, so don't worry about all the white!) 

 Wrap as many colors as you want & vary the length of each color. I like to scatter my colors about, leaving some of the branch showing through. For smaller tots making this project, try painting on stripes of color instead. 

 Now for the feather. Cut TWO pieces of cardstock however long & wide you want your feather to be. Then, cut them as shown in the picture. (I like using two pieces, because it gives the feather more dimension, but you could use one piece of cardstock if you wanted.)

 Holding the two pieces together, cut a slot on the pointed end, wide enough for your branch to fit in, to about 1" high. 

 Now cut slanted slits along each side of both feathers.

 Glue the two feathers together as shown in the photo.

 Dab some more glue on both sides, right above the slot you cut.

 Shimmy that feather into the slit you made with the handsaw.

Cut two hearts out of a small piece of felt. Hot glue them to the other end of your branch.

Optional: Tie "invisible" thread to each end of your Cupid's Arrow for hanging.
(This project is for display only. Not a toy.)