File it Away

This past weekend, we didn’t work much on our to do list.  That’s not to say we didn’t work.  We just didn’t work on noticeable, blog worthy projects.  Instead, we loaded up some of the dirt pile Craigslist responders wanted.  Ben worked a little more on digging out areas and leveling out the back yard.  We cleaned, organized, Ben baked, and I spray painted a few things.  Yesterday you saw one of those things, faux billy buttons.  While organizing my office, I pulled out an empty, ugly brown file drawer just like this one.

I bought at the thrift store, oh, two years ago and never used.  It was five bucks and I figured I could use it for something.  Well, I figured out that something.  For the last few months, I’ve been storing the boys’ wet bath toys in a cheap metal bucket on the vanity shelf.  I didn’t like that the ugly toys were left in the open.  So I checked to see if the toys would fit in the drawer.  They did, so I dug around my stash of spray paint in the laundry room, coming out with a can of primer and another can of metallic silver paint.  A quick scrub with a rag, a light coat of primer, two coats of silver, and a few hours to cure in the sunlight, I brought it inside.

To prevent rusting of the inside, I popped in a cheapie plastic bin before loading the toys in.

That creepy eye belongs to Woody from Toy Story.  You’re welcome.  Toys are still easy to get at sitting on the bottom shelf (next to a basket for toilet paper and soap), but out of sight.

As you can see, the vanity isn’t finished.

We still have to build the false fronts, then repaint the whole vanity.  I should probably dust it sometime, too.

Please tell me you buy things from thrift stores and don’t use them for months or years.  Where/how do you store bath toys?

P.S.  You’ve gotta love Montana weather.  This summer has been hotter and drier than most, with no measurable precipitation in September.  We’re ready for a change.  Yesterday was clear, sunny skies with near 80 degree temps.  Last night, Montana treated us to a beautiful sunset.

This morning started with rain and quickly turned to snow.

Big, slow falling flakes, too.  I feel like a kid again.  Our first snow day.  Welcome.

Vincent told Everett, “Look at the snow on the deck.  It’s not watching where it’s falling.”  That’s right, snow does not discriminate.

I had plans for today, but maybe I’ll sit back, relax, watch a movie with the boys, and drink hot chocolate.  Yes, that sounds perfect.

Painting on Jersey Shore

Um, not the show Jersey Shore that I refuse to watch for fear I’d have three brain cells left.  Or even the geographic location of the Jersey shore.  I’m talking about a little painting project the boys and I did yesterday that vaguely resembles modern sports jerseys.  Back when we still lived at our first house, I made magazine ad artwork for the boys’ bedroom.

Great colors, fun animals, and free, in a word, love.  But neither of my boys are babies anymore.  Vincent is Rubik’s cube loving, movie quoting, bike riding five-year old.  And Everett’s a jump on/off/to everything, dirt digging, Matchbox car racing two and a half-year old.  The baby-ish artwork didn’t match their personalities anymore.  Five cluttered looking frames weren’t working for me either, so I set out to make free, personalized art involving the kids.

I found two still in the package 16 by 20 inch canvases in the basement, begging to be used.  Then I opened Photoshop and typed 21 and 25, Vincent and Everett’s birth dates and changed the fonts until I found one I liked best.  Museo Slab, if you’re wondering.  To make the art look less like a jersey, I decided to overlap the number slightly for a more artistic look.

I considered tracing the numbers, taping off everything and letting the boys paint, but that seemed like too much work.  Instead, I flipped the numbers to make a mirror image, printed on card stock, and cut them out.

The boys each painted their number using acrylic paints.

Once the paint dried, I flipped the numbers over and stuck plenty of rolled tape on.  In another attempt to make these look less like sports attire, I placed the numbers in the bottom left corner, rather than the center.

V stuck with greens and yellow for his.

Then went color crazy by adding various blues to the mix on E’s number.

I like that these are personal and were as easy as printing, cutting, and painting numbers.  And we can just as easily pull the numbers off and paint something on the canvases if we get bored.

I might use stronger tape though because the thick card stock is kind of warped from the paint.

If not for my free goal, I would have preferred square canvases, perhaps 24 by 24 inches.

Like I said, we can easily change this down the line.  For now, I’m really happy with the white space versus painted design.  And fonts/numbers are always good in my book.

Now I’m curious, what do you have as art over beds?  Whether kids, yours, or a guest bed.  Do you prefer single larger pieces?  Or a grouping of smaller ones?  Perhaps, you’re a font/number geek?  Let’s unite!

P.S.  In response to our recent survey (which you can still fill out here), several commenters suggested bigger, brighter pictures.  For larger pictures, click on the photo.  Are these brighter/bright enough/too bright?

It’s, It’s a Birthday Blitz

We celebrated V’s birthday with a bash on Friday.

He asked for a dog party, I wanted to make something he’s love, but I limited myself to not spend a dime on decorations.  It’s nothing crazy, but here’s what we had.  Scalloped paper banner I made for his 3rd birthday party, a flat twin bed sheet turned table-cloth, and a few special dog creations.

A paper banner and framed husky silhouette decorate the boring (hole filled) wall.

To make the banner, I simply typed out Happy Birthday Vincent in Photoshop.  I’m obsessed with the Arvil font lately, which I also used on his invitation.  And the condensed style fit three letters per sheet at 815 point font.  After arranging three letters per page, I merged the visible layers, then flipped horizontally.  Using scissors, I cut out each letter, then poked holes at the tops to string embroidery floss through.

Stars separate the words and dog silhouettes at the ends match the party theme.  But next year I can pull the dogs off (I didn’t knot the ends) and swap ’em for something matching next year’s theme.  For another decorative element (to take attention off the holes), I traced a husky silhouette on a large piece of white roll paper I have in the basement.  Popped into a large frame I had hiding under the guest bed, it’s a fun, simple decoration.

After taking down party decorations, I took down a map poster and hung this big dog above the boys’ kitchen.

For food, I planned to have hot dogs (to tie in with the dog theme), chips, grapes, sweet potato fries, bread, and V’s favorite cheese.  Well, Ben saw pork ribs were cheaper than hot dogs (go figure!) and bought that instead.  Oh well, our guests liked it.

So our desserts consisted of puppy chow and dog cupcakes.

I saw these cute and easy cupcakes and knew it would work for us.  No special tools or tricks, just cookies and candy.

Because I was in a hurry buying ingredients, I forgot to buy black icing.  So I improvised and used a dot of frosting with black sprinkles for the pupils.

A little something I learned: don’t put the cookies on the day before the party and cover your dish with foil.  Trapped moisture will weaken your cookies, breaking in half.  Super simple party and we all had fun.  Check out last year’s rainbow themed party, too.

What do you think of the party decorations?  What type of parties have your kiddos requested?  Do you limit your budget?  Or go all out for parties?  How was your weekend?

Dog Days of Invitations

We’ve got two upcoming events that I made invitations for.  A dog themed party for V, per his request.  Specifically, a Jack party.  Right when he said that, I thought of Kim’s adorable Pet Shop paintings.

I spotted this adorable Husky Print that looks just like Jack.  It was perfect.

So I emailed Kim begging asking her if I could pretty please with a cherry on top use this painting for the invitation design.  Luckily, Kim is fantastic and said I could use the image, so long as I don’t use it on anything else.  Not a problem.  So, I saved the image and opened it in Photoshop.  Wanting a white background, I right clicked on the eraser tool.  Right clicking brings up the options.  Click on the Magic Eraser Tool.

Then click an area of the background.  This handy little tool picks out any of the same colors, and erases it.  Seriously, this Magic Eraser is just as handy as the Mr. Clean version.  And really magic.

A small area between the front legs didn’t go with it, so I clicked again and gone.  After a transfer to my invite, I had an adorable design.
Because we’ve been so busy working on the house, I’ve really slacked in the birthday decoration department.  We’ll have a small celebration at our house on Friday, and another larger party with my family in Minnesota a few weeks from now.  What are we doing in Minnesota?  Going to my sister’s wedding, which I also created invitations for.  My sister has a modern aesthetic (we’ve shared her stair bookcase) so something clean and simple was in order.  The invitation is 5 by 7, focusing on the text.

For a dose of fun, we added diagonal stripes on the backs.  The wedding is small, so I also made pretty wrap around address labels.

These invites are one of my favorite designs yet.  V loves his dog invitation.  And Ashley loves her wedding invites.  Which makes me a happy camper.  I aim to please.

What do you think of the designs?  Do you like simple designs?  Or something more decorated?  What did you do over the weekend?

Put a Balloon Animal On It

It’s hard to believe, but E will turn two in thirteen days.  I can’t call him a baby any more.  In fact, sometimes he acts bigger than V.  He certainly defends himself (and initiates scuffles) like a big boy.  I’ve slowly been working on some birthday party projects, like cupcake toppers.

The toppers were pretty easy because I used the balloon animal graphics from the invitation.

I separated the three designs, copy, and pasted to a new 8.5 by 11 Photoshop document.  Once I had arranged one set of animals, I merged the three together, copied, pasted, and flipped horizontally.  Then I merged the two sets together and made a second set, flipping vertically to fit 12 animals per sheet, like this.

I could have made standard circle toppers, but I thought it would be more fun to cut the animals out completely.  Carefully, I traced the outline with my blade.  They’re not perfect or completely symmetrical, but they are close enough to not notice.

Several pieces of double-sided tape and a toothpick on the back of one.

The press the mirror image on top, sandwiching the toothpick between.

I won’t say these were especially quick (about 1 hour for six toppers) but they are darn cute.  With the whole moving thing and all that goes with creeping closer, I don’t know how much of my original plan I’ll get to.  But I want to make the day special and celebrate my little guy.  Now I have to learn how to make real balloon animals.  That’s right, I still have not attempted one.  How long do you suppose a balloon animal can hold air?

Have you made cupcake toppers for a birthday?  Any ideas for quick and easy decorations?