How I Feel...

Can I tell you how I feel?
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This is me right now.
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So here's the bad news:  My sister, Kathryn, is moving away.

Right now we live about 5 minutes away from each other.  We have many of the same friends, our kids do many of the same activities, we rely on each other for childcare, we talk daily, we lunch often, we carpool, our husbands are friends, our kids are "besties," we plan parties together, we craft together, and the list goes on..... and on.....

But her husband has been commuting a long way, for a long time, so they decided they should consider moving closer to his job.

This was how I felt.  Immediately, shocked and choked up.  Lump in the throat, tears coming to my eyes...  but I tried to push past it and be as supportive as I could.
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You see, in the past, I haven't done so well.

Let me share a tidbit from the growing up years:

When Kathryn announced her engagement, I stormed out of the room crying.
(Granted I was in junior high, and was even more over-dramatic than I am now.)
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But I was sure that my sister was leaving me, and that things would never be the same with her leaving home.  Yes, I should've been happy for her, but instead I wallowed in my own self-pity.  Sad, but true.  Her husband (then fiance) tried to compensate for stealing my sister by buying me a VHS copy of Girls Just Want to Have Fun.  It kind of worked.  
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I got excited about being the maid of honor and getting my nails done, so I perked up.  I was back to being a happy teenager.  True story.

I tell this to you, mostly because it's funny, but also, because it reminds me not to act like an idiot and feel sorry for myself just because my sister is moving away.  Her family is on to wonderful things, and I am truly happy for them.  So only happy tears are allowed from now on.
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Happy tears because:
-I have been blessed to have a sister that has provided a wonderful example to me, my whole life.
-Since losing my mom at a young age, she has been the cheerleader I've needed.
-I'm lucky to have a sister who has always been willing to drop anything to help me.
-She has always been there for me and has helped me survive my hardest trials.
-She laughs at my jokes and thinks I'm as funny as I think I am.
-She sticks up for me and brings out the positive side of me.
-She will only be a phone call away and a few hours away.

Yes, I will survive this.

I think.
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I may have momentary bouts of sadness, when I miss hanging out and feel lonely.
(And maybe not get out of my pajamas all day because I'm reverting to my junior high ways, self-pity).
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But then I will look on this here blog, and see that she has posted her latest home project, and I will be so exited for the next visit!  Yes, this blog will now serve as a way for my sister and I to keep in touch, as well as a way for us to share our projects with all of you!  That makes me happy!
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So why the emoticons, you say?  Well, I thought it would make my sob story more interesting.
And because I'm an emoticon addict.  If you've ever texted me, you know that I am a big fan of my emoji app and it's just plain fun to speak in pictures.  So I ventured to make some emoticon sugar cookies, just for fun!
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I used luster dust to shade the cheeks.  It was my first time doing this on royal icing and it worked really well.  Whew, you finally learned something useful in this post.
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Now we can all end on a happy note!
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p.s.  Love you sis!


I'm linking to Tatertots and Jello and Be Different Act Normal.

4th of July Cookies

I'm up to my old tricks again... yep, more sugar cookies!

Click over to Somewhat Simple to see what I came up with for 4th of July!

You will find stars and stripes and, more!

Mini Album Gift

We gave this to my father-in-law for Father's Day this year.
This is a great grandma/grandpa gift that you could use for their birthdays too!
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I made him this little mini album 7 years ago, and he LOVED it.  And for the last few years, he has reminded me how much he loves his photo gifts.  He even dropped a hint that he could use an updated one.  Yes, my scrapbooking has been slacking in recent years, but I decided to dust off some paper.
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The last book was a store bought accordion album/card thing.
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But this time I made my own mini album with:
1 piece of 12x12 patterned paper (cut in half)
3 pieces of 12x12 cardstock (each cut in quarters)

First I made the binding by gluing my 2 pieces of 12x6 cardstock together to make one long piece that is 6 inches tall.  Then I accordion folded it every 1.5 inches.  I find a bone folder makes the folds extra crisp.  You can trim off any excess, depending on how many pages you are going to want.
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Then I glue in my pieces of 6x6 cardstock.
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You will end up gluing the cardstock to each other.
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When you are at this point, you have all of your pages in, and from the inside you can't see the binding.
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Now you need to glue your binding flat.
I put glue in each fold and then put it under a heavy stack of books overnight.
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My kids came up with their reasons, "why they love grandpa" and I found some pictures to represent that.
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Really not much embellishing, a little paper and chipboard numbers and photo corners.
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And there you have a mini album that is easy enough to do with your kids.
It takes a little time, but I'm always glad when I make the effort to give a sentimental gift.
My father-in-law loved it!
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I wish I could give a source to where I got this idea.  I actually remember doing something to this effect in a church camp as a teen.  These ideas just get recycled you know!

I'm thinking I can recycle this idea into:
vacation albums
birthday gifts
baby's first year mini album
and teacher gifts!

I can't wait for you to see all of the scrapbooking that Kathryn has been up to!
It is blowing my mind!

A Cake For Dad

I had a request for chocolate cake and mint chip ice cream.
My daughter "made" this cake.  I measured and she put those ingredients in the bowl.
My little chef was excited to help and very proud of the result.
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I've been wanting to buy those cake leveling strips for a long time, but I saw a technique I thought I'd try out instead.  Amanda, from one of my fave blogs, I am baker, said she uses old, damp towels to make her cake level (refer to this post).  She speaks the truth.  The cakes turned out great.
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I used Amanda's ideas again on the sides of the cake.
I looked at this post and learned this simple technique is done with an offset spatula.
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I topped it with some shaved chocolate and sighed with relief.
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But my daughter said, "That's just a cake, not a father's day cake."
And since she is a fondant fanatic, she suggested using some.
I cut out the letters, let them dry for a day, then propped them up with some straws.
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I made sure he had his dessert request,
and my kids' showered my husband with about 54 homemade cards.

I'm pretty sure he couldn't ask for more.

"Happy Summer" Teacher Gift

I've been lucky that my kids' have had great teachers.

Our mom was a teacher and we saw first hand the many hours spent outside of school working on ways to enhance learning.  Not to mention the hundreds of hours they spend in the classroom helping and teaching.

The best "thank-you" to my kids' teachers,  is probably a genuine conversation, telling them that I appreciate them.   But a few fun treats can be a great start to their summer break too!
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I gathered a few simple Target finds (and a cute cup from Michael's).
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Then made some summer-ish cookies.
I got the cute popsicle idea from one of my cookie heros, Callye at Sweet Sugar Belle.
I love the popsicles.  I want to make 500 more.
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Then I wrapped it up with a note that says "happy summer."
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I hope all of you are in the midst of a "happy summer" too!

Last Day of School Cookies

This "2nd Grader" cookie is only cool, when you're a first grader.
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Last year, on the last day of school, I brought these cookies for my daughter's first grade class.
She is now asking for me to make "3rd Grader" cookies.    I guess it will make it official for her.

You know how the kids start calling themselves a "middle school-er" the second the bell rings on their last day of elementry school.  And it continues throughout the summer.  They have a whole new identity that makes them feel older and cooler.

Yes, another year is almost over and my kids are feeling so grown-up.  :)

Fabric Bracelets

Here's a quick project to do with your kiddos... bracelets made from your fabric scraps!

My daughter realized the night before that she was signed up to sell at her school "market day."

Last time she had prepared for weeks, by making tons of tied embroidery thread bracelets.
Before she panicked, I told her we could work it out.  I love it when I get to be the hero!  I don't so much like when she procrastinates, but if the end result is that she thinks I'm awesome, I'm good with that!

So we made some cookies, and then went to my stash of fabric scraps.  We made some fabric flowers and then I experimented with some fabric bracelets.  This was just an experiment, but she quickly loved it!
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There is nothing faster or simpler than braiding, but with cute fabric, you can't go wrong!
I know these won't last forever, since the edges are raw, but she can sport the frayed look until she gets over this bracelet, which should be about a week from today.  hahaha
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We made about 10 and she came home excited that she "sold out" right away!  She said that so many people are asking her to still make them one.
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While this isn't the coolest thing I've ever done, it was a hit with my 10 and 7 year old girls, so I thought it might be a good summer project for some of you.  Here's how I did it.

I used scraps that were approx 15" long and 2.5 in wide.  It doesn't have to be exact.
Then we got our little buddy to pinch the ends and hold for us.
Next my daughter braided, trying to keep the right side of the fabric, out.
Then we estimated wrist size and crossed the ends.
She handed it to me and ran a few zig zag stitches with clear thread, to secure it.
Then I cut a scrap off one of the ends
Folded it in thirds and secured that with a dot of hot glue.
We gathered the point of the seam and wrapped our little piece around.  I secured it with another dot of hot glue.  Then we used a needle and thread to tack it down even more.  Then you just need to trim the crazy tails to look like a little bow.
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With her cookies and fabric creations, she made out pretty well, making $380 school money.
With her school money, she can shop from other kids' booths and buy some of their creations!  Pretty fun!
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And she is still digging the bracelet she kept for herself.

"Guys On My Wall"

I've talked about my son's obsession with Star Wars.

First I gave in for Christmas and gave him some "guys."
Then I gave in for the birthday party.

And now I have lost all control and we are decorating his room, Star Wars style.
I blame Kathryn, because her son has been his Star Wars mentor and she talked me into this room.  I told her I didn't know HOW a Star Wars room could be as cute as trains or baseballs, and this will be my only time decorating a little boy room.  She assured me it could be done in a way that I would like and that he wouldn't be growing out of the Star Wars phase soon (since we started at the young age of 4).  She told me (in a very nice sisterly way) that I should really consider what he likes instead of just my favorite bedding.  Then she directed me to this quilt from pottery barn kids.  I jumped on board and quickly ordered the millennium falcon quilt.  However, when it arrived in the mail, without the sheets (I have a boring white sheet policy) he was disappointed and wanted to know where the "guys" were going to be.

I chose "bedford gray" from Martha Stewart paints for the wall.  I painted my living room this color and have been really happy with it.  But when I was painting, Justin kept asking me to paint guys on his wall.  I don't know if a life size darth vader would give him nightmares, but his requests for "guys on my wall" persisted.  So when I found these 10" x 10" canvases on clearance, I thought it was time to fulfill all of this hopes and dreams.

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I am not an artist by any means, but I do enjoy a good projector project.

So I gathered my supplies: my kopykake projector (that I usually use for cookies), my stash of acrylic paints, some scrapbook paper with simple, two-toned Star Wars images and my wall color to make sure the colors would look good in the room.
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The only colors in the room so far are navy blue (quilt and dresser) and gray (quilt and wall).  So I mixed up some paints so I could add a few more muted colors.
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Then I spent hours and hours under my projector light, painting these "guys" that my son chose.  No tracing in pencil first, I just painted right over the projected image.  If the canvas got nudged, it was easy to put it back in place.

I played around with the arrangement and decided on this:
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It pained me a little to take down his nautical themed baby room to put these creatures on the wall, but I am actually growing to love them.  When I see how happy it makes my little buddy, I just want to give in more!  I'm even talking in my Yoda voice at his request.  You've never a little guy laugh so hard.
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Yes, this is one of the most rewarding projects I have EVER done because he LOVES them so much.  Every time I would finish a new painting, he would celebrate, show everyone that came to the door and give me 50 hugs.  And oh man, the day we actually put "the guys on his wall," he was the happiest boy on the planet.

Thanks for talking me into the Star Wars room Kass!  There's a lot more fun to be had decorating this room, but this is a start!

Edible Paints

I've got a few kids already out of school for the summer.
It's week one and I just dare them to say "I'm Boooorrreed"
Because all bored children get a chore to do. Really, with all the mess around here, Mama's never bored!

It's really hard to follow a tricked out remote control cookie but I have a fun project that will impress your children and requires no special supplies or skills.
So you may just want to keep this little activity in your back pocket for an "I'm bored" moment.
Edible paints!

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Also known as milk mixed with food coloring!

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No tutorial required, although I do suggest some new paint brushes.

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You can turn your creation into toast.

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Or use cookie cutters to cut a fancy PBJ and let your kids go crazy!
Everyone wants permission to play with their food, right?

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Here's to kicking off your summer.
I'm wishing you no whining, complaining or fighting of children.
I'm wishing the kids will read quietly, getting smarter by themselves while you do projects.
And then you can laugh and play at the beach while doing the perfect family photo shoot.
If only I were a fairy godmother and my wishes came true :)
Happy start to your summer anyway!
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