Friday, April 29, 2011

Handmade Gifts from Children

Commercialism is a bit too much to stomach sometimes. When it comes time for those Hallmark holiday's, I like to get creative with the kiddos and make something at home. Over the years there have been plenty of quick little projects conjured up in the Klein Household to celebrate Mother's Day, Father's Day, Valentine's Day and more. I've included a small list of my favorites below. Feel free to snatch a few for your own family!
Number 1 on my list is the Photograph Puzzle, similar to the picture on the right. I went to my local craft store and purchased 1-inch unfinished wood blocks (12 of them). This project was for Father's Day, so I printed out 4 of David's favorite photographs of him with the children. I used a rubber band to hold the wood blocks neatly together in a rectangle shape, then spread glue all over one side. I placed one photo on top of the glued blocks and waited for it to dry. I trimmed any photo overhang, then used an exacto-knife to carefully slice the photo between each block. I repeated this process for all four photos. For the remaining two sides of the puzzle I gave the kids each a turn to create their own artwork puzzle. They drew on their respective side with markers - other ideas include paint or paper collage. I put the entire puzzle into a tin can - also purchased at the craft store - and the kids couldn't wait to give it to daddy! It was fun to watch them work on the puzzle together first thing in the morning on Father's Day. Now we keep it in our camping gear for those surprise rainy moments.
Number 2 on my list is the I Love You banner made completely from scrap materials. I kept this banner hanging across the window in our living room for a good couple of years because we love it so much. I cut open a couple of paper grocery bags (removed the bottom) and gave the kids some finger paint and let them paint their hearts desire. After it dried, I cut the paper into enough rectangles to spell out I Love You with one piece in between each word. I pulled out all types of materials to glue onto the papers to spell out each word. I used broken Mardi Gras beads, ribbon, dry cereal, thread, and my favorite - those mini pictures you get on the index sheet after you've printed all your photographs. Because my children were too young to write the letters in glue (in a legible fashion), I did that part for them. Older children could easily handle this task. After I placed the glue, I let the kids cover the glue with one material at a time for each letter. After all was dry, I attached each piece to a long strip of twine with painters tape on the back.
Number 3 on my list is the Foot Photo and Survey. I took the kids outside for good light and made them sit with their feet together in front of them so I could see the soles. I snapped a picture and used my camera settings to change it to black and white. I printed it out, dated the bottom, and placed it in a frame. I printed out a following in your footsteps poem to go along with the photo. Then I surveyed the children with questions about their dad. I asked them things like "What's your favorite thing to do with daddy? and If you could buy anything for your dad, what would it be?" I wrote their answers down with the questions, on individual strips of paper. I gave the kids some card stock, stickers, and other art supplies. I explained to them that they would decorate the card stock to cover some glass jars. When they were finished, I helped them attach the decorations to the jars, then placed the questions and answers inside the jar. Dad had a lot of fun reading all those answers! The photograph and jar survey was one gift together on Father's Day.
I'm always interested in hearing new ideas for kid projects. Please feel free to share your handmade projects in the comments section of my blog!

Thursday, April 28, 2011

A Personal History

About 6 months ago, I completed my Bachelors Degree in Elementary Education. It was a bit of a challenge in the respect of time constraints. I found myself staying up much later than the rest of my family on many nights, sitting at this computer, typing away. It all began when I earned a bulk of my prerequisites fresh out of high school. I took a loooong break and one day decided I better finish up this college stuff before all my earlier credits were lost. Going back to school was eye-opening for me. I realized that I am capable of much more than I thought! I also truly enjoyed most of my course work instead of dreading each class (like I did when I was younger). I took the modern approach and earned my degree online through the University of Phoenix. All my work was online and I never had to attend a single class physically. This was the perfect experience for me since I'm a stay-at-home-mom. I think a lot of people are confused by the whole online schooling thing and I still get funny looks from some people when they learn I took this approach. For any person who is thinking of attending school and is completely self-motivated - online schooling is probably for them. For me it was definitely my maturity that allowed me to take things seriously - and I mean seriously. I graduated with honors and never dropped below an A throughout 24 courses. For the most part I had wonderful instructors with a couple here and there who I think should never teach an online course again. The assignments were mostly written or PowerPoint presentations with a few really fun creative projects. I love playing around in Photoshop so the graphics assignments were my favorite. There was this one assignment that required me to create a large graphic collage of my personal history. I had a hard time fitting in all the things I could think I kept the content as simple as I could. So, I was thinking this blog is the perfect place to share something like this about myself. If I've inspired you to make one about your personal history, please feel free to post the link!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Handmade with Style: Edition 1

If you think style can only come from top designer name brands and upscale boutiques, I believe you're wrong. I have been browsing the pages of again - after all, it IS one of my favorite websites - to bring you some of the most affordable and stylish fashion items. The best part is that these items are all HANDMADE! An added bonus, some of them may never be recreated again, providing you with the most unique stylish items out there today.
Even though we're approaching summer, I have to share this dress because not only is it cleverly designed, but it's gorgeous too. I can envision wearing this on a cool fall day in the North or on an overcast winter day in the South. The lantern shaped long sleeves is the first thing I noticed (well, after my favorite color). I love the femininity this dress exudes! The dress is created by a collective team called: idea2lifestyle. In their Etsy store you can find several other dresses, including the Less is More sleeveless long dress I love, scarves, and ever-so-comfortable wind pants.
I'm sure you know a mother who loves to spend time in the kitchen. If you don't, then you probably know a mother who spends hours in the kitchen even though she'd rather not. Either way, what mother wouldn't love a sexy apron?! Kitschy Aprons is the place to shop on Etsy! The thing I love most about Kitschy Aprons is the super-cute and flattering designs. This I love Mom bib apron is one of the more simpler patterns, but I couldn't resist with Mother's Day around the corner. The adorable heart pocket is just the kind of touch that Kitschy Aprons is known for. No grandma aprons found here!
The sunfashion shop on Etsy is physically located in Bulgaria. Lucky for you and I, shopping online is as convenient as ever! I enjoyed browsing the hip and elegant Corset Belts offered in this shop. Belts of all sizes are the perfect way to dress-up any outfit. I personally love pairing thin or wide belts with some of my favorite dresses. Sunfashion's approach to the Corset Belt is beautiful and appropriate to take a woman from the office to the club for cocktails. This belt dresses up a boring old button-down blouse and can be paired easily with a black pencil skirt or slacks. I find that button-down blouses never fit me right so I'm thinking this fashion item just might be the answer to my problems.
I love purses and handbags. I have a section in my closet dedicated to them. One holiday I was gifted an olive green handmade tote. This tote has been one of my most used pieces. The reason is not aesthetic, but instead function. It has a nice long arm strap and a deep enough pouch to carry around a long-sleeve tee, tissues for the kids, a stack of fliers for my next crafting event, my wallet, sunglasses, and a bunch of other little items. I've even shoved my Nikon SLR Camera and some magazines in there several times. I highly suggest every woman own a great tote. You might be surprised how often it comes in handy! This black and white modern print Everyday Purse from the Sinem Inugur Etsy shop comes with an adjustable strap, contrasting lining, magnetic clasp, swivel clip for keys, and two inside pockets! All that in one bag for $32 sounds like a steal to me.
Well, this concludes my first edition of Handmade with Style. If you have something you'd like to include in my next style edition, please feel free to contact me! In the meantime, happy handmade shopping to all!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Cozi Keeps Me Organized

When my friends ask me how I'm doing, they are never surprised to hear "really busy lately." I may as well change it to "same old, same old." The truth is, I AM really busy most of the time. I have my fingers into a little bit of this and a little bit of that. Thankfully I have the energy and motivation to keep up with my brain and interests! I was never this involved in life until I got married and had children. Something about having my kids changed my perspective on life and time. If it wasn't for Cozi Family Central ( I would probably always be late for my appointments and that is IF I even remembered them in the first place! I would probably also fight with David a lot because I'd never know when his gigs are and then be thrown a curve ball when I thought I was going out with the girls. Cozi Family Central allows David and I to share a family log in, and the website provides us with a convenient way to keep up with our plans. Everything is color-coded so it's easy to input appointments for anyone in the family. We customize our settings to get weekly schedule reminders, and we use the lists section to keep track of our grocery needs. The best part - I can access everything right from my phone - and you don't need a smart phone either! With my husband working a full time construction job, playing music gigs frequently, my crafting events, and other extra-curricular activities, this website has been a sanity saver! In case you want to see more, I've included the the below link to watch a quick video demo.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Everyone Needs a Breather

This past week David and I spoiled the kids rotten with a trip to Disney World and all the beautiful little perks that go with it. We spent three nights camping at Fort Wilderness, one evening at Epcot, and one day (into the late night) at Magic Kingdom. The week was jammed pack full of smiles, food, and fun. Disney World is one of those places that make children and adults happy at the same time. It might cost a pretty penny but it is entirely worth it every now and then. Everyone needs a breather and this was definitely one of those moments for my family.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Magazine Re-Shmagazine

If you've never been to you are missing out on some of the best handmade creations on this planet! I use Etsy to manage my online store. It is a convenient web site with fabulous features for creators like myself. One of my favorite features is the Treasury Lists. A treasury list on Etsy is something that a shop owner creates to display a variety of items created by other shop owners. Many of these treasury lists are created with themes. I've made a few myself and enjoy the browsing process it takes to find spectacular items to include in my lists. My most recent treasury list is titled Magazine Re-Schmagazine (click on it and you'll see it live). The theme is all about items created from magazine pages. I like to make mosaics from magazine pages. The art pictured in this blog is my first magazine art creation. Magazines are colorful and usually short lived in one's home. For me, it was the perfect recycling item to use in my art. I am looking forward to making new pieces as ideas are rolling around in my head.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Why I Love Handmade & Vintage

Handmade is a term a learned from an early age. I remember insisting on making some of my Halloween costumes because the store-bought ones just wouldn't suffice. I tried to make a California Raisin costume one year...epic fail...but I tried. Punk rocker was a lot easier to pull of. My earliest memories of handmade involve my grandmothers. One grandmother was always cooking from scratch. Another grandmother sewed my tap-dance costumes. I remember watching her finish them and trying them I have the pictures to stir distance memories. I was lucky to have more than two grandmothers. So, another grandmother crocheted these elaborate doll dresses for me. I kept the dresses (and original dolls) and my daughter enjoys them now. My step-mom took a basket weaving class once and I still have one of her baskets. Other creative influences in my life include my grandfather, my aunt who sews, and my uncle the decorator guru. I can't wait to see what the next generations grow-up to do!

I was a bit of a tom-boy as a little girl. I grew up in the woods of Maine so I didn't have many playmate just so happened my closest playmates were usually boys. I spent many days exploring through the woods and attempting to build forts with wood scraps and trees. I have a younger brother too, so I spent days trying to entertain him as well. One summer we managed to make our own swing from an old water-skiing rope. We also constructed elaborate snow mazes in the winter. I can safely say, imagination and creativity was something I was NOT lacking as a child.

After reflecting on my childhood, it's no surprise to me that I LOVE handmade and vintage items. Vintage items are nostalgic and beautiful. I especially love vintage items that spark memories from my early breadboxes, carnival glass bowls, and old step stool seats. I've been really lucky to have parents with a basement full of awesome stuff. I've scored a collection of old local milk bottles and a wood milk crate that I now use to store shoes at my front door.

I feel fortunate to have had such experiences and influences in my life. I enjoy submerging myself in the handmade community and helping others to learn about this part of culture.