DIY Stencilled Slate Coasters

Tuesday, May 28, 2013 by
Stencilled Slate Coasters |
Hello on a dreary rainy weekday.  The season of showers…well, rain showers and Baby/Bridal showers…continues.  So let’s talk about something pretty, crafty and fun for one of those special occasion showers, shall we?
So I had an upcoming bridal shower.  My soul was in need of a creative outlet and I was going to have time to stop in at my local Michael’s during my daily run-around.  I browsed through my Pinterest boards for some ideas, and was inspired by this great idea from The Graphics Fairy.  A set of slate coasters stencilled with white glass paint for a chalkboard effect.
Stencilled Slate Coasters |
These plain slate coasters are available from Michael’s in sets of four, round or square, already tied with raffia.  Embellished with a stencilled design, and wrapped up with a bit of chalk for fun, they make a fantastic gift.  Also great for a housewarming party or as a hostess gift. 
Stencilled Slate Coasters |
All of these supplies…coasters, stencils, paint, and foam paint brushes…are available at Michael’s.  The variety of stencil patterns is extensive, including lettering.  Monogramming as The Graphics Fairy did would also be a fun way to go.
Stencilled Slate Coasters |
Because these were for a Bridal Shower gift I thought they should be wrapped up beautifully.  I found this perfectly sized seagrass basket at Solutions to store them in, and added my full-on gift-wrap.  You can find details about gift basket wrapping here.
Stencilled Slate Coasters |
Then, because I was on a roll with the stencilling I decided to embellish a chalkboard-looking tag as well using black cardstock, a white Sharpie and the same stencils and paint.  And then I noticed that there was a heart-shaped stencil that I hadn’t used yet…
Stencilled Slate Coasters |
…and used it to decorate the gift bag.  OK I guess I’m done now.
Congratulations to the Bride-To-Be.  May your home often be filled with guests and good cheer.

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Cool Sparkler Photos Tutorial

Wednesday, May 22, 2013 by
How to photograph sparklers |
Hello my blog readers!  We’ve just had our first long weekend of the summer. Affectionately known as May Two Four, but rarely occurring on the Actual May Two Four.  It celebrates something about Queen Victoria which nobody remembers anymore.  But we don’t need much convincing to take an extra day off, do we?  And take in some fireworks displays whether big or small.  In our family we are in the habit of having at least some sparklers on one night.  Sometimes Husband can be convinced to put on a little fireworks display.  Doesn’t require much convincing…fire and explosions and such are an easy sell.
But here’s something fun that’s not hard to do if you have a digital SLR camera.  That is to take some cool photos of your kids (or friends) with the sparklers.  The hardest part is, you have to turn the mode dial away from Automatic.  Don’t panic!  This is where all the fun of photography just begins.
How to photograph sparklers |
The first thing is you have to find a Very Stable Spot to rest your camera.  A tripod is great but work with what you’ve got…a tabletop, a deck railing, whatever.  Then you want to frame your shot so that you will capture the whole sparkler-iness.  A bit of instruction to your subjects to stand in one spot and not go dancing all over the yard is helpful.  Now here we go…hold your breath…and turn your mode dial to M.  Still good?  Good.  Now set the aperture (or f-stop) number to something small-ish (it’s actually big-ish but we won’t go there) between about 3.5 and 5.6.  Now set the shutter time to something long enough to capture the whole sparkler design.  About ten to fifteen seconds is probably good unless they are drawing something extremely elaborate.  You will figure that out after a couple of tries.  Make sure your flash is set to go.
How to photograph sparklers |
And you’re set.  Light the sparkler.  Press your shutter release and say Go.  Wait till the shutter closes then check your image.  If it’s too bright then set the aperture one or two numbers higher (ie close it down a bit – ok, I went there).  Adjust the shutter speed faster or slower as needed.  And give it another go.  Have fun with it.  
When I downloaded these photos I did edit them to remove most of the colour and make them almost Black and White.  I just liked them better that way.  Play with your images and see what looks cool to you.
How to photograph sparklers |
Sparkler love.  Fun memories.
And if you are interested in what the deal is with Queen Victoria or you’re into the royal thing, check out the movie The Young Victoria.  Hmmm, maybe a good activity for the Actual May Two Four which is still coming up.  Some scones, tea in fine china….

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Responding to Tragedy

Wednesday, May 15, 2013 by

One of those hard hard times…as a person and as a mom.  What do you do when you are so vividly reminded that there is horror and evil in the world?

DSC_0118_red garden blooms

Maybe go out into the garden and collect a few blooms and branches for a kitchen table arrangement.  To remind yourself visually that there is still beauty in the world.  Maybe stare blankly at your computer screen till your coffee gets cold.


Maybe bake something that the kiddos love so they’ll hang out in the kitchen for awhile after school.  Maybe send one more text to Husband to make sure he’s still there.

Definitely say extra prayers.

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Breakfast in Bed

Sunday, May 12, 2013 by

DSC_0121_mother's day_05

Happy Mother’s Day!  I hope that all my fellow moms out there are being well celebrated, remembered and honoured today.  Kudos for everything you have invested in the next generation.  One of the most worthwhile things you can do with your life.

And so, here are a few pretty, and yummy, photos to add to your festivities today.

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Also I must take this opportunity to extol the virtues of breakfast in bed.  This is a twice annual treat for me, on my birthday and on Mother’s Day.  In my opinion this is an excellent skill to be developing in your children.  It will serve them well in life…and serve you well in the meantime.  It’s important to be positive and encouraging.    And remember that it’s always the thought that counts.

Here is some of the thoughtfulness I woke up to this morning…

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This croissant concoction was posted on Teenaged Daughter’s Pinterest board a few days ago…I should have clued in, but they managed to surprise me.  Even the presentation of it was lovely.  I am a proud and lucky mom.  Good job kiddos.

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Enjoy your day, Moms, however you have been celebrated.  Tomorrow…onward and upward.

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DIY Gift Basket Tutorial

Monday, May 6, 2013 by
DIY Gift Basket Tutorial |
Hello to all of you, and Happy Monday!  It seems to me that the season of showers, both Baby and Bridal, is fully upon us.  And with Mother’s Day also just around the corner, I thought it would be timely to give a little lesson in putting together a smashing looking gift basket.  A super valuable skill for anyone who calls themselves creative.  Why?  Because we all know that as in most things in life, presentation is as important as content.  True for everything from food to job interviews.  Scientifically proven.
So, here we go.
Ideas for a kitchen gift basket |
First thing is to shop for your basket’s contents.  And spread them out all over the floor.
Ideas for a kitchen gift basket |
Next is shopping for something to contain it all.  The best thing is something simple and practical.  A flowerpot, a bowl, a basket or a tray all work well.  Scour your local dollar stores and the clearance aisles of the big box homegoods stores.  This basket is from my newly opened Target, and is actually a media basket.  I guess for DVD’s, but it could be used in multiple ways, and the pile of stuff I had bought fit in it really well.
Ideas for a kitchen gift basket | ribbon, filler |
Collect up all your wrapping supplies and you’re ready to go.
DIY Gift Basket Tutorial |
Next, arrange everything inside the container.  A bit of height is good, symmetry is good.  Also you want everything to be at least a little bit visible and looking good from every side.  Sometimes I tape a few of the things together just to help keep them in place.
Now I know for a fact that many of you will start stuffing the empty spaces with tissue paper.  Don’t do it.  Tissue paper is bad.  Repeat after me…Tissue. Paper. Is. Bad.  There is no way to stuff and fluff it and have it look at all attractive or professional.  It’s not re-useable.  Not even recycleable.  Bad.  So this is what you want to stock up on.
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Some stores call it paper shred, some call it sizzle.  I buy it in bulk from Creative Bag so it’s pretty inexpensive and available in a rainbow of colours.  Of course being a fairly neutral girl I buy all the neutral colours.  Natural, white, cream, maaaaaybe dark green for Christmas.
DIY Gift Basket Tutorial |
Sizzle is good.  It’s great for fluffing up and filling in the spaces.  It’s a great cushion if there are fragile or scratchable contents.  See how it easily spills out attractively over the edges?  It’s re-useable.  It’s recycleable.  Repeat after me… Sizzle. Is. Good.
Now to wrap it all up.
DIY Gift Basket Tutorial |
Clear cellophane which comes in a heavy roll from either Creative Bag again, or Bulk Barn.  When you gather it at the top the trick is to pinch it together as tightly as possible and fasten it with a twist-tie.  The more tightly you can gather it, the more fluffy the pouf at the top will be.  A fluffy pouf is good.  Then tie it up with decorative ribbon.  I like a combination of curly ribbon and wired ribbon which holds its shape really well.  And the details count…cut the ends of the wired ribbon like this.
DIY Gift Basket Tutorial | heart cookie-cutter embellishment |
Can’t go wrong with some whimsical embellishment.  A great tag, an ornament, a flower.  I happened to find these red heart cookie cutters and couldn’t resist them.
And done.
DIY Gift Basket Tutorial |
How fabulous does that look on a gift table?  It’s a good gift even before it gets opened.
You could make one too.  It's easier than it looks!

xo andrea

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