Monday, April 30, 2012

Week in Review: April 23-29

Last week I... sticky while tying donuts on strings. (For a youth group game.)
...talked to my mom for an hour & a half on the phone.
...watched the girls win their 5th soccer game in a row.
...listened to a storm.
...made THESE crockpot scalloped potatoes for the 2nd time.
...made THESE meatballs for the umpteenth time.
...took Pazely to a birthday party.
...climbed (& jumped) on hay bales.
...began the process of getting a custom domain name. (What a hassle I got myself into! Er, am still in.)
...walked in the rain.
...did a tiny bit of crafting.
...ate numerous bagels.
...watched the girls kayak.
...hung out at Subway for 3 hours talking with friends. (And then totally STUNK like Subway when I got home!)
...shipped orders.

Click HERE for a photo play-by-play.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Gelarti WINNER!

Congrats to Veronica who commented, "wohoo~ stickers are my girls favorite! They are 6 and 8 and would love the nature/butterfly one as they are learning about metamorphosis , thank you ! and love your bloggy goodness too :)"
Woohoo is right!!!
Please email me your address at (whimsy-girl [at] hotmail [dot] com) & I'll make sure the Gelarti sticker scene pack gets sent your way!!

Thanks to everyone who entered!
I'll be having some more awesome giveaways coming up, so stay tuned!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

DIY: April Showers Greeting Card

I decided to make up some thank-you cards to send because of all the recent birthday loveliness that was heaped upon me.
Since my birthday is in April, I decided on the theme of "April Showers".

For this project you will need:
•Blank cards (or cardstock folded into cards)
•Paint (I used Martha Stewart's multi-surface acrylic satin paint in "surf" & acrylic pearl paint in "pink taffeta". Basically, light blue & light pink.)
•Cloud stencil (Mine is from Martha Stewart's "Playroom" set of stencils.)
•Stencil brush
•Fine tip permanent marker

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Gelarti Stickers Review & GIVEAWAY!

 The girls & I recently received a Gelarti Sticker Activity Pack, manufactured by Australian toy company Moose Toys.  (Retail value: $16.99)
The kit comes with 5 tubes of gel paint pens (2 of them are glitter gel), a marbeling tool (that helps achieve swirly or dotty artistic effects on your stickers), 2 clear acrylic bag tags to decorate with your stickers, a frame to paint, a card to create, 50 stickers to decorate, & an activity/instruction booklet.

I knew right away that his craft was perfect for the girls (ages 7 & 9) because, without me knowing, they snatched the box & got to creating all on their own. They didn't need any instruction from me.
 I did get a chance to play around with the stickers too. You have to leave them to dry for about 6 hours. (Best if overnight.) When you peel them, they look like little stained glass masterpieces. The sun shines through the color & is really pretty.
They are repositionable & don't leave a sticky mess. (YAY!)
I stuck some on my computer, but they didn't show up well on the dark background. So, we stuck a bunch in the windows.The girls have also attacked their walls & dressers, the bathroom mirror & the refrigerator.
 The girls give this kit 2 crafty thumbs up!

Gelarti would like to give away a Sticker Scene Pack to a lucky reader. (Retail value: $9.99)
Choose from: Ocean/Mermaid, Nature/Butterflies, Forest/Creatures, or Funky Fun/Rock!
Just leave a comment & I'll draw a winner this Sunday, April 29th!
Click HERE to view a 30-second Gelarti Sticker commercial.

Disclosure: I received the Gelarti Sticker Activity Set as compensation for writing this post.
All opinions expressed are my own. I review products I believe represent the interests of my audience, & products that correspond to my lifestyle of creativity. I will always give you my honest opinion.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Week in Review: April 16-22

Last week I...
...spent 4 days with the girls, without daddy. (He was away for meetings.) more of "The Long Winter" to the girls.
...saw Katy Perry, Helen Mirren & Mr. Feeny, the principal from the show "Boy Meets World". (Celebrity look-alikes in my town.) The things I do for fun, ya know?
...made extreme crafty messes!
...spent a tiring night consoling my little 7 year old with tummy pains.
...ate the last of the homemade granola bars.
...watched "Treasure Buddies" with the girls. (Oh my. The things I do because I love them.)
...edited MASSIVE photos from my Denver trip.
...sipped yummy teas from my friend Eli in Argentina.
...missed the Mr.
...painted Zoey's fingernails & toenails red.
...made this tea-party suitcase.
...went to the lakes with the girls.
...made chocolate chip banana nut muffins.
...ordered prints online. Real live photographs! (Don't know when I did that last.)
...rented the IMAX film "Born to be Wild". SO good!
...spied Johnny Jump-Ups in the yard.
...helped the Mr. plan another creative church service on Sunday.
...made wishes with Pazely. (She brought me some dandelions.)
...listed rings in the shop, just in time for Mother's Day. (*hint, hint*)
...made a yummy pizza with butternut squash, carmelized onions, peaches, feta & arugula. (i love Pinterest for meal-planning!)

For a photo play-by-play, click HERE.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Tea Party in a Box: Crafting with Plaid & Martha Stewart

I received a generous box of Martha Stewart crafty goodies from Plaid about a month ago. My mission: to create a Mother's Day gift inspired by all things paint & stencil. There was SO MUCH IN THE BOX, that I sort of froze. My brain scrambled a bit. But then, for whatever reason, the idea for this tea suitcase popped into my head.

Not only can this suitcase hold all the tea party supplies, but you can toss a blanket on the ground, picnic-style, & the suitcase becomes a nice little table for tea.

Here are the 5 projects I created as part of this "Tea Party in a Box". 
(And I basically went doily crazy.)

1. Painted suitcase
SUPPLIES: gold metallic multi-surface acrylic paint, eyelet lace stencil set, a foam pouncer top, & a suitcase.
I LOVE vintage suitcases, & happened to have this one in my stash. But you can find them at thrift stores & garage sales. I did wipe the suitcase down with a wet rag before beginning the painting, but I like the dated/dirty/tattered look, so any stains were fine by me.
This project, which I was at first intimidated by, was actually easy! This particular stencil comes with two parts: a corner & a straight piece. You just repeat the designs. I mostly eyeballed, but there is a small guide to help you line up the pieces as you go along. (And I see a tiny flower spot I missed in the picture! It's like  "Where's Waldo"...) And I LOOOOVE the pouncer tops. They fit right onto your bottle of acrylic paint!

#2: Oversized felt doily coasters
SUPPLIES: Felt, eyelet lace stencil set, stencil brush, scissors, stencil tape, & multi-surface acrylic paint.
I made two sets of coasters in different colors. I couldn't decide which I liked better, & ended up using them both. The stencil set comes with smaller doilies, which look like a "normal" coaster size. But I used the larger doily stencil & created oversized coasters, which were about 8 inches in diameter.
All you do is cut out a circle from your felt a bit bigger than the stencil. I found a bowl that was the perfect size & cut out my circles.

Place the stencil on top of the circular piece of felt. It helped me to center it by holding it up to the light. I could see through the stencil & get good placement.

I used some stencil tape to mask off any areas near the edge of my doily that were a bit to close for the wild stenciling that was about to go down. The tape also helped to hold my stencil to the table. Use your stencil brush to pick up a bit of paint, dab off the excess, & then get to dabbing. I'm not gonna lie: My right arm is so buff right now.

#3: Tea pouches
SUPPLIES: felt, button, sewing machine, eyelet lace stencil set, italic flourish stencil set, multi-surface satin acrylic paint, stencil brush, scissors, needle, thread.
Each of the tea pouches matches one set of the oversized coasters. 

For the larger pouch, cut out a piece of felt that is 11 1/2" long x 4 1/2" wide.

Fold up the bottom 4", & sew a straight stitch on each side, from the bottom to where the pocket opens.
Not pictured: I used one of the smaller doily stencils to paint on the front side, which you can't see in this picture. I used the raspberry ice multi-surface satin acrylic paint. THEN, measure where you want your button. Sew a button on the bottom pocket. Measure again to get the proper placement for the button hole. Simply snip a slit with the scissors. .

For the small tea pouch, fold a long strip of felt in half & sew up both sides. (Sorry, I didn't measure. It really depends on the size of your tea bags. Not all tea bags are created equal. But it's super simple to make.) I used the letter "t" from the italic flourish stencil set & stippled it on with light blue multi-surface satin acrylic paint. 

#4: Cupcake picks
SUPPLIES: 2-inch hole punch, cardstock, eyelet lace stencil set, stencil brush, metallic yellow gold multi-surface acrylic paint, raspberry ice multi-surface satin acrylic paint, toothpicks, hot glue.
Punch out 2" circles from cardstock. Position a portion of the doily stencil over one edge of the circle &, using the gold paint, stencil lightly. Once that's dry, position part of the butterfly on the circle, overlapping the  doily. Stencil the butterfly with the raspberry ice color. I discovered that using a bit more paint was OK when stippling onto the felt. But when stippling onto paper, don't use so much paint. You'll get more crisp lines this way.

Once dry, hot glue toothpicks to the very bottom backside of the circles.

#5: Doily/book page bunting
SUPPLIES: pages from an old book, eyelet lace stencil set, 3 different colors of paint, foam pouncer tops, twine, glue stick.
The 3 doilies are conveniently placed on this stencil sheet, so all you do is position it all different ways on top of each book page. Flip it this way, turn it that way, etc., so that you get a different look on each page.
I used raspberry ice (satin), yellow gold (metallic), gold (metallic), & eclipse (pearl). Ok, so that's 4 colors. Toward the end of pouncing, I decided I liked the gold better for this project.

When the paint is dry, turn the pages over & fold down the top flap about 1". Slide the twine under the flap & use a glue stick to seal it. You could also punch a hole in the two top corners & feed the twine through that way.

To complete the party, I gathered mismatched teacups & saucers, miniature dishes to hold cupcakes & treats, a teapot, random dishes to use for creamer & sugar, vintage spoons tied off with a bit of trim (they actually had holes drilled near the top, from a previous project), mismatched vintage hankies to use as napkins, & tablecloths or quilts to use as picnic blankets.

Let the Mother's Day crafting begin!!

To view all the photos from this crafty project, visit the album HERE.

Connect with Plaid on Facebook, Twitter (@plaidcrafts), & Pinterest.
Also, be sure to check out Martha Stewart Crafts Paint & Idea Center HERE.

I wrote this post as part of a paid campaign with Plaid & Blueprint Social. 
The opinions expressed are my own.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

37 Random Acts of Kindness

Here it is! My big ole gob of a kindness post.
Before my birthday road trip to Denver last weekend with Susan, I compiled a list of 37 acts of kindness. I kept seeing people do this sort of thing for their birthday & thought it would be fun to do in honor of MY recent birthday. While scouring the internet, I gathered my most favorite acts (& some of my own ideas), & even packed a bag full of kindness props, which included things like wiggly eyes, neon pink poster board, a roll of quarters, tape, & post-it notes.
If our acts of kindness caused people to smile, then: goal accomplished! Of the 37 acts performed, I was only able to photograph 29 of them. Here is our list. As your read through, I hope you are inspired & catch the kindness fever. 

#1: Drop coins at a playground.
This was our first act, & an easy one to help us ease into this kindness thing.
There were a few parents there with kids. I wondered what they thought of us. We pretty much just made a loop around the playground, with camera in hand, & stopped to swing (while flinging coins of course) & then we were gone. Took all of 6 minutes. And we were very secretive.

 #2: Donate clothes.
I specifically packed some clothes I knew I didn't need anymore. These clothes dumpsters were everywhere in the city! 

 #3: Sneaky dollar store dollar drop.
This was one of my most favorite acts! It was so fun to leave dollars scattered all over the store. We even left a dollar sticking out of a piggy bank. I love The Dollar Tree! I miss them. Wish there were one around here. Susan could not believe that EVERYTHING was a dollar.

#4: Leave a pre-paid phone card at a payphone.
It cost us $5. We taped it with one of our "Random Acts of Kindness" tags.

#5: Pick up trash.
Ok, so the trash in the picture is kind of extreme. But, it's a dirty world. Plenty to be picked up.

#6: Leave coins at a car wash.
We left enough coins to pay for a decent amount of washing time. No need to be stingy when you're being kind.

#7: Leave lottery scratch tickets in random places.
We left some at bus stops & another one taped to a dumpster.

#8: Pick up grocery carts in a parking lot.
Ok, so we chose a Walmart. And, it was a lot of work. But not too bad. We rolled about 25 carts back to their proper spots. You know the spots I'm talking about. Where it says "Return Carts HERE." Not over THERE!!!!! People definitely looked at us like we were nuts. The cart guy was even outside with his fancy cart rolling machine staring at us while he collected the carts we were putting away for him. And, honestly, I will never look at an abandoned cart the same again. The urge to return it will be strong within me. Always.
Ok, but I don't get this. On the outer edge of the parking lot were about 4 or 5 carts. I tried returning one, but I had to PULL it instead of push it. They were all like that: broken. The wheels are non-functioning. Why are they there? Why doesn't Walmart just dispose of them? I'm sure none of you can answer that question, but I had to just get that out there. I know the cart guy is gonna hate me because of one of those broken carts I returned.
And, seriously, Susan & I could have stayed there & returned carts all day. 
People! For reals???

#9: Smile at 10 strangers.
Ok, why was this just about the hardest act for me to do?? I like to smile. But, I do have a hard time looking people in the eye. I'm not very confident & a tiny bit shy as well. (Is that shocking to you?)
But I think most of the people's reactions were odd. Some just stared at me. Some WOULDN'T look at me. And some gave me weird looks. Receiving a smile feels nice though, doesn't it??
Susan & I split the 10 people, so we each took 5. Believe me, when my 5 were over, I had a tiny party. Susan had no problem with this one. In fact, the people I smiled at, looked past me & smiled at her. WHAT?! No fair.

#10: Leave coins at a laundromat.
We spent SO MUCH TIME driving around looking for a laundromat! We decided that doing these random acts of kindness would definitely be easier in a more familiar surrounding. But we were intent on not letting "the unknown" stop us. We walked right in, taped our baggie full of quarters to the machine & walked out. But not before we passed a Ms. PacMan arcade game though. Gah! Too bad I just left all my quarters at the laundromat.

#11: Leave notes inside books at a bookstore.
We had 5 notes, to be exact. We walked into the Barnes & Noble bookstore & after sticking a note inside a book, Susan freaked out. She started mumbling something about "security cameras". This was a hard one for her to do. Which is funny. We learned a lot about each other during these random acts. The things that frighten her or make her nervous are the complete opposite of things that would intimidate me.

#12: Read to kids at a bookstore.
Wow, this one made me kinda nervous. But it made Susan MORE nervous. So, the job was mine. And, try as I could, no children would gather 'round to listen. There was a gentlemen on my right, & then two employees working in front of me. And Susan sitting on a bench nearby. I sort of forced them to all listen, whether they wanted to or not. I guess there WERE a few bouncy hyper girls around. But they weren't interested in listening. The book was called "Amos & Boris" by William Steig. I used voices & everything. They missed out.

#13: Park at the far end of the parking lot.
How many times do I do this? Like, never. I'm usually the one stalking the cars parked in front so I can get a good spot. But this time, we gave up any decent spots & parked about as far away as you could.

 #14: Eyebomb.
Eyebombing is simply the act of attaching wiggly eyes to inanimate objects in public spaces. The goal of eyebombing? To bring smiles. This was just down the road from The Tattered Cover bookstore in downtown Denver.

#15: Toilet paper decoration.
I had seen this idea on Pinterest & thought it would be fun to incorporate into our acts of kindness. But let me explain my mess in this photo. The toilet paper in the original idea I saw had perforations. MY toilet paper was in a public restroom, where they mostly use those giant rolls of less-than-paper-thin toilet paper. The Sharpie was very hard to write with on this horribly puny canvas. But I tried.
I saw a lady go into my stall  when I was washing my hands. I ran out of the bathroom, found Susan & told her, "We should go."

#16: Give a compliment to a stranger.
Susan told some guy giving carriage rides that she liked his horse. I told her, "I don't know if that counts." So then she told some guy wearing a pancho, the wind blowing it wildly about: "You look like Superman!!!" 
*slaps hand to forehead*

#17: Leave a gift for your waiter.
It's hard enough to buy a prezzie for the Mr. And now I'm supposed to buy something for a stranger?? Well, I was hoping for some fancy cookies or special food item to leave wrapped, with our tip, but I couldn't find JUST the right thing. So, this is how it went down....
Susan & I waited 45 minutes at The Cheesecake Factory to be seated. While waiting, we tried guessing what our waiter's name would be: Jason? Eric? Nick? Alex? We weren't terribly hungry because we had a large lunch earlier in the day. We ordered some avocado eggrolls to share. Our waiter, Sean, thought we were nuts to have waited 45 minutes ONLY for apps. (But have you tasted those eggrolls???!!) And I could tell he just wanted to get us out of there. He wasn't rude or anything. But there were obviously LOTS more people waiting to eat LOTS more things. Which meant he'd make LOTS more money, compared to our wimpy bill. Really, he was super nice & friendly. He even got a kick out of us trying to guess his name. And then he tried tempting us with dessert. But we were seriously full. Before we left, we wrote a note: "Hi Jason! (a.k.a. "Sean") We think you're awesome, have a good night." And then we left him a 133% tip. Above & beyond. And kind, very kind.

#18: Leave a tip for your maid.
Susan's pockets are MUCH lighter, but we hope the maid has a coin purse.

 #19: Write a nice note & send it to someone in the phone book.
We know we're dorks. But wouldn't you smile to get this in the mail? I might have to do this more often. Because it was fun.

#20: Write a letter & mail it to someone who has made a difference in your life.
I brought stationary, stamps & pens. While plopped on our hotel beds, & watching an infomercial for steam mops, we penned our thoughts. Susan thinks she needs a steam mop now. But we discovered something. They showed a man cleaning a floor in super warp speed. About a minute passed. If you calculated how much time that would take in REAL time to clean, it basically would take a LOT of time. Oh, & then we mailed the letters.

#21: Let someone go ahead of you in line.
I had to go to the bathroom REALLY bad. But then this other girl came up in line behind me. Her boyfriend went in the BOYS bathroom & she waited behind me for the GIRLS bathroom. When the bathroom became unoccupied, I let her go ahead. 
And then I started crossing my legs & jumping up & down.

#22: Hold a door open for someone.
The cutest old man with a walker & the cutest old lady with a cane were walking along & trying to open a door. I swooped in. The end. (Oh, they were so cute!!!)

#23: Put 5 paper hearts in the windows of random parked cars.
We found a parking lot full of cars. And attacked them with hearts. It was kind of fun. But, golly, a lot of people sit out in their cars. Just sitting there. A couple of you spooked us. Or vice versa.

#24: Purchase a potted flower & place it in the driveway of a stranger.
I think this was Susan's favorite act of kindness. How happy would that make someone? VERY happy we hope.

#25: Leave a happy sidewalk chalk message.

#26: Leave a handmade gift for someone to find.
I left one of my heart owlies tied to a neighborhood STOP sign. I call it "Finders! Keepers!" My monthly Crafty Night did this last year. We left over 30 items all over town for people to find. SO MUCH FUN!!

#27: Yarn bomb.
We were hoping to have time to knit some pieces to yarn bomb with, but we were too busy! Luckily, Susan brought a small piece she had just finished, which was a knitted wrist cuff.

#28: Donate money to a cause.
The perfect opportunity presented itself when, after the Wicked performance, the cast described a charity we could all donate to on our way out. I couldn't understand who, exactly, the charity was. But I heard the words HIV, AIDS & Breast Cancer. 

#29: Leave money on a gas pump.
We were trying to figure out a way to actually pay for the gas inside the convenience store, so that when the next person drove up to pay, part of their gas was "kindly" covered. But that seemed too difficult, so we just tossed cash in a ziploc snack  bag & taped it to the pump.

 #30: Pay for someone's meal behind you at a drive-thru.
I have ALWAYS wanted to do this. And it was another of our favorites. The girl collecting money at the drive-thru got the biggest grins from this. She said, "That has never been done here before!" She thought it was neat. 

 #32: Leave coins at a vending machine.
Oh no. I just saw that the sodas in this vending machine cost $1.50. I think we only left $1.00. BAH!!
It's the thought that counts.

 #33: Wave a "HONK if you love to SMILE" poster at a busy intersection.
I wasn't going to do this. This was MY intimidation. Susan gladly hopped in the middle of the skinny median & started waving the poster around. I kept laughing & smiling as I took her picture, a safe distance away on the sidewalk. After this act was all done though, I decided I should give it a go. And so I did. We got me & my honks on video. How exhilarating!! I have NEVER done anything like that in my life. It was so worth it. (I'll post a link to the video when it's ready.)

 #34: Put up a "FREE COMPLIMENTS" poster.
We taped it up in a ladies restroom in a grocery store. We would have preferred a bulletin board somewhere, but we couldn't find any. I've seen a fancier poster (free for printing) around the www, but liked  the more plain & simple one in this instance. Print your own HERE.

 #35: Post happy quotes in random places.
A quote by Mother Teresa on some Cracker Jack's. And another excerpt by William Shakespeare on a box of organic whole wheat penne rigate. Yep, that's random. (But we think it's awesome too!)

#36: Bring home souvenirs for the fam.
Got these fun sodas from Rocket Fizz in Denver, CO.

#37: Pray
On the way home, we passed a really bad accident. It was sort of a spontaneous act of kindness to pray. But, still, one that could make a difference.

I can't explain how awesome it felt to be a part of this project. All the more special that I could share it with a friend. And for my birthday. I showed my two daughters all the photos from my weekend away, & they want to do some random acts of kindess too!
Oh, in case you wanted to peek at all the photos from our 37 Random Acts of Kindness, click HERE to view my album.