Tuesday, November 11, 2008


12 screws. 6 frames. A big wall. One woman. Thanks to some random home decorating show on TLC (not one I was familiar with) and Pottery Barn's catalog (my home decor study guide), I have a very nice arrangement of our recent family pictures. The pictures are cute and the frames are satisfactory, but how do you hang SIX pictures to form a nice arrangement and keep everything aligned properly?? Let me show you.... First, trace the frames on some paper and cut out --do this for each frame you'll hang. (While you are tracing you can also make marks so you know where to pound in your hardware.) Using painters tape, hang them on your chosen wall and now you have a template! arrange-a-frame-001 Once your arrangement looks the way you want, drill your screws or pound your nails right on top of the paper like so: arrange-a-frame-002 Next, rip the paper off and hang your pictures. Here is my final product: arrange-a-frame-003 Now if I could just figure what to put on either side on my new grouping.....

Throw Pillow Slip Covers

I never buy throw pillows (okay, hardly ever). I feel like I can make them quickly and inexpensively. I'm not a major sewer, but if you can sew straight lines, you can sew this! The first thing that you want to do is measure your pillow. My pillow was 19" square. Then, I cut the fabric for the front of my pillow. You will want to cut your fabric 1" bigger to allow for 1/2" seam allowances. The back of your pillow is going to have 2 pieces of fabric that overlap. This way, you can take the fabric off and wash it easily. To cut the back pieces, you will want them to be half the size of the pillow plus 2-3". So, I cut my pieces 13". Then, you will need to turn over one edge of each of the pieces. These are the edges that are going to show when you have your finished pillow. The next step is to pin your pieces of your pillow together. You will want to lay the front of the pillow on a table, front side up. Then you will want to lay your two back pieces on top of that front sides down. You will want to have your turned over edges on the inside of the pillow, overlapping. Pin all around the outside, then take it to your sewing machine and sew all around the outside edge. Flip your pillow right side out and stuff your old pillow inside!!! This project takes less than 1 hr. (it probably took me longer to post this on the blog.) It also is quite in expensive if you already have a pillow that you are just recovering. All it costs is the fabric. For this one, I used just a little over 1/2 a yard. Good luck and email me if you have any questions. -Anisa

Quick & Cute Bank

My mom bought these letters shortly after my daughter's birth four years ago. I'm so glad I finally altered them. I really like how they turned out. After I was finished, I had enough patterned papter to make a cute little bank out of a Clabber Girl baking soda can. First, I removed the paper label, ran it through the dishwasher, then cut a hole in the lid wide enough to fit a folded up birthday dollar bill. Supply list for bank: One empty baking soda can
  • A few, I used three, sheets of double-sided patterned paper (this is Magical Moments by Daisy Bucket Designs)
  • Paper flowers (Sweet N Sassy Princess by Prima)
  • Rub-on letters (Making Memories Simply Stated Trademark in black
  • Adhesive (Zig Two-Way Glue and Scotch Tacky Glue)
  • Supply list for altered letters: Plain white letters (these were purchased at Wal-Mart 4 yrs ago)
  • Same paper as listed above
  • Same paper flowers as above
  • Adhesive (Mod-Podge)
  • extras: buttons and rick-rack from personal stash

Quick crafts are great. The hardest part seems to be deciding on the best time to sit down and do them. I'm working on another craft right now that I'm really excited about. It isn't quick AT ALL. I can't wait to show it here. Soon! --C

Wings & Things

Halloween is coming. And fast. My sweet little six year old loves anything princess and detests anything not "pretty" costume-wise (i.e. witches). I am growing tired of the Disney Princess road. I was thumbing through various family-friendly magazines and websites and came across a few different ideas for fairy wings. For my girl, it was love at first sight. For me, it was yet another excuse to test my creativity. So for a quick idea for something fun, girly, and not Disney for your little princess, try these pretty little fairy wings. Materials needed:
  • 4 wire hangers
  • wire cutters
  • pliers or very strong hands
  • 4 knee high nylons
  • duct tape
  • spray paint
  • glitter, fabric paint, etc.
  • 2 yards grosgrain ribbon in coordinating color
Step 1: Using the wire cutters, cut the hook part off each hanger. Step 2: Gripping hanger like a bow (as in bow and arrow) and pull. This will give you the diamond shape you see below Step 3: Bend the neck of the hangers 1 and 2 enough that you can duct tape them easily together. Repeat with hangers 3 and 4. Step 4: Duct tape 2 hangers together. Once you have 2 sets of wings, duct tape the two sets. Step 5: Slip one knee-high nylon over each wing and tie in a knot. At this point, I chose to tie those ends to each other Step 6: Spray paint your desired color. Give it a good coat and you shouldn't have to do more than 1. (I didn't even have to spray the backside and bonus, it dried very quickly.) Step 7: Add your embellishments-glitter spray, fabric/glitter paint for details, etc. Step 8: Cut ribbon into two pieces, 1-yd each. Fold in half. Hot glue loose ends to where you've duct-taped the hangers together. Make a loop and glue the folded ended on top of the loose ends. Repeat with second strand of ribbon. These are the arm holes. Step 9. Cover the center with flowers to hide all the knots and duct tape. Voila! A simple, inexpensive set of wings for your little fairy! **UPDATE** The top wings kept flopping down by the 3rd party/event we went to. To fix, use a little hot glue to adhere a small portion of the shoulder straps to the wings. I did it maybe an inch or 2 above were the hangers all come together. We haven't had a problem since!

Playroom Project

For the past two weeks I have been busily working on my kids' playroom. I wanted it to be fun and whimsical, but I didn't want to spend a lot of money. One of my main goals was to have a place to display my kids' artwork. I had thought of several different ideas, but none of them really seemed right. Until a couple of weeks ago when I was at my sister-in-law's house. She had a strip of wood painted red with white clips on it. It clicked!!!- That was what I wanted to put in the playroom. So I went to Lowe's and bought some pine that was 1"x4"x48". Then I painted it black. Then the hunt began for the clips. I tried Lowe's, Robert's Crafts, Walmart, etc. I could not find them. Finally someone told me that they would be an office supply product (duh!). So, I headed to Office Max. For your information, they are called Bulldog Clips. Office Max had these really cute colorful ones. They came in packages of Red/Blue or Green/Yellow. Well, I was making 4 boards, so I needed 16 clips. The Office Max that I went to had only one package of Red/Blue and tons of green/yellow. So, I headed off to another Office Max. Luckily they had tons of Red/Blue. After a whole lot of running around, I finally got my boards put together. My sweet husband screwed the clips on and hung the boards on the wall for me. Part 2 of my project was to paint these circles on the wall. I love to browse Pottery Barn magazines for decorating ideas. Whether or not I can afford to buy anything from there, I still love their ideas. And a lot of times, I can do it myself. I loved the idea of painting circles on the wall. So, I made myself a compass. I took a piece of string and push pinned it into the wall. Then I tied a pencil on the other end. And voila!- a circle. It was rather difficult to paint 3 circles in such bright colors, but 4 coats later, I love the finished look. I also loved this clock from Pottery Barn. But, once again, it was too expensive. So, I found a clock at my local craft store- Robert's Crafts. With my 40% off coupon, it was under $20. I used my Cricut to cut out the vinyl numbers for the clock (the clock came with some, but I did not like them). And here is my finished product. Part 3 of my project was to put alphabet letters on the wall above my clipboards. I used my Cricut to cut out vinyl letters in varrying sizes and fonts. It was really fun and I love the finished look. Posted by: Anisa

Polymer Clay Bead Necklace & Matching Earrings

I love all the possibilities that clay, specifically polymer clay [pc], holds. I've used it for beads, Halloween costume props (I needed a pipe for my Popeye husband), and most recently, a school Halloween project with my son. I'm going to show you some quick pc basics so that you can have fun with this medium too. First you're going to need some polymer clay. I use Sculpey III. It's the only thing I've ever used or tried. (Remember, I am an amatuer) It comes in a lot of colors, blends well and looks great after baking. Second, your clay must be conditioned. This basically means kneading it until it's smooth and pliable. This is an important step and will prevent cracking later. For the flowers I blended clays to achieve the colors I wanted. Graduating colors creates a life-like shading on your work, which makes it look great. When you get the conditioning and colors they way you want them, the third step is to create a cane. A cane is a log of clay with a pattern of color running all the way through. This is a picture of the cane I used for the tiny flower petals. You can see that the center of the cane/log is a light yellow. I then rolled out a sheet of the next color and wrapped it around the yellow core. I did the same with the other two colors. The cane began about as thick as my finger. The Fourth Step is reducing the cane. this allows you to make your piece smaller without changing the pattern of color. You begin my gently squeezing the cane in the center of that log shape and working outward to the edges. If it is a round shape (like these petals) you can also roll it as you continue to reduce. When the cane is the size you want you can cut it into smaller canes. I did this and then clustered the canes around a plain, light green log of clay for the center of my flower. Now we have a flower cane. It can no longer be reduced as a whole or you'll end up with a colorful log, but not a flower. After all this kneading, working and shaping, the clay is often too soft to slice immediately off the cane. 5 minutes in the freezer should help with that.

Fifth step: slicing the cane. I use the Sculpey Super Slicer (a very thin, razor-like strip of metal). Rocking gently helps the slicer go through the clay without distorting the image. Now that we've got this teeny-tiny slice, it can be added to a raw clay surface, layered, etc. I made a plain, smooth, organic-shaped bead of pure black pc and added my slices. For the earrings, I made small cube shapes out of the same black pc. (Don't forget to cut/carve holes into your bead shapes so that you can thread things through later!) Finally, I baked them (before I made them into jewelry) and they were ready to go! Baking instructions are on each pc package. Final tips: you don't have to invest in a pasta maker to blend, condition and work with clay. I use old-fashioned elbow grease and this strong wooden brayer. Does this make my work perfect? No, but it gets it done and I like the results anyway. Any equipment you use should be only used for working with polymer clay. Although it is non-toxic, you wouldn't want this stuff in your food. Also, when baking, the smell of the fumes can be somewhat strong and unpleasant, vent well. I don't want this clinging to my oven, so I bake my clay in sealed foil packets. I put those packets on a cookie sheet and then stick them in my oven. Click here, here and here to see books that taught me a lot about Polymer Clay and the techniques to use it! --C

My Little Pumpkin Patch

I shipped one small child off to preschool and another one of to dreamland. What's a mother to do with 2 hours to HERSELF?! Obviously, catch up on crafts. I have a growing list of must-try projects. Number 1 on that list? These adorable pumkins: They were soooo easy to make. I raided my felt stash and about an hour and a half later, I had 4 cute, kid-friendly pieces of fall decor. (Kid-friendly being very important with 3 resident monkeys living here.)Click here for the free pattern from Pattern Bee. The pattern only has pieces for a medium and mini pumpkin. I tend to like things in groups of three, however. To make a large pumpkin I traced around the larger pumpkin piece leaving about a 1/4" margin all the way around. (It worked beautifully by the way.) For the stems, I used some cinnamon sticks from my spice cupboard. If I were to do this again (which I probably will), I'd most likely pick different felt colors. That eggplant-purple is really starting to grow on me, though. Hmm...Maybe add a little black witch hat? --Posted by Angie

Any Excuse to Buy Scrapbook Paper

I love to scrapbook and I love scrapbook paper. I often find myself buying the paper just because I love it even though I don't see a layout using it in my future. Any time I can incorporate my love for scrapbook paper with my love of decorating my home, I'm on board. The added bonus is that when my project is complete, I often have left over paper scraps that I can use on a layout... I'm killing two birds with one stone (as my grandma would say). My inspiration for this project was my son's bedding from Pottery Barn Kids. I copied the simple patterns and shapes of the truck, bus and car. I simply cut them out with scrapbook paper. I did a little bit of hand stitching with embroidery floss as well as some machine stitching. And of course the wheels needed to have buttons in the center. I love buttons. Here is the final project. I love how it turned out. A few sheets of scrapbook paper are a lot less expensive than buying art. Click on the image for a closer look. Posted by: Anisa

Welcome to Twiddle Thumbs

To quote a man I admire: "The desire to create is one of the deepest yearnings of the human soul...Everyone can create. You don’t need money, position, or influence in order to create something of substance or beauty...Creation brings deep satisfaction and fulfillment. When I discovered crafting in my childhood, I wanted to try everything. I made pot holders with the pegged loom and stretchy loops. I used modeling clay. I did summer crafts at the local hobby store which involved (more often than not) popsicle sticks, pipe cleaners and plastic wiggle eyes. When I was in 2nd grade, the art of boondoggle hit and you could buy supplies in the school office. I never did well with it, but it was fun. When I was in 6th grade everyone was knotting together embroidery floss for friendship bracelets. Now that I'm an adult, there are still more possibilites to make wonderful crafts of all kinds and I want to get a finger in every pie. I even used my daughter's Perler fuse beads recently to make this tree. I always wanted fuse beads. So , welcome to Twiddle-Thumbs, where my friends and I hope to share many different crafts and ideas with you. We hope you can find something new to try or be inspired to try something you love in a different way. Glad you're here! -C