Thursday, October 27, 2011

{James River Gypsy} Camera Strap Cover

camera strap cover

My sister combined two of my great loves (VT Hokies and pirate-y/steampunk look) to create this awesome personalized camera strap cover for my lowly Nikon D40 (hoping to upgrade one of these days.)

The colors are perfect for fall, and I actually squealed over the skull and cross bones metal accessory, but WAIT!  There’s more!

camera strap pin

How genius is this??  You can detach the fabric flower and wear it as a barrette or pin it somewhere flashy.  Now I can accessorize and COORDINATE with my camera strap cover  Totally over the top and my personal MO.  She knows me well!

camera strap protector

Here’s the part that kills me…she doesn’t measure.  Anything.  Ever.  Not recipes or crafts.  And yes, it fits!  I know because I put it on my camera, then realized I couldn’t take pictures of it.  Heh. 

{singing, Oprah style} I loo-ooove iiiit!  Thanks, Manda!

Monday, October 24, 2011

{James River Gypsy} Bamboo Fairy Wands

fairy wand
I don’t quite remember how she acquired such an awesome stash of bamboo stalks, but my sister’s family has been extremely creative with them.  I’m still kicking myself for not having my camera with me when my brother-in-law erected a trash bag/hose shower Survivor style for the kids in the back yard. 
Their most recent creations are 7 ft. tall Halloween lawn creatures with jack-o-lantern heads.  (I’ll try to figure out how to add a pic from her FB page.)
Anyway, gifts between us are usually homemade or second hand.  So when she announced they were indeed traveling to our house for my 4 year old’s fairy-themed party, I knew she would be doing something fabulous!  Yes, these are bam-BOO fairy wands…one of a kind!  Well,…three of a kind.
bamboo fairy wand
beaded princess wand
bamboo princess wand
If I find ONE puppy tooth mark on these….dog burgers!~  jk


Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Madeline’s 4th Fairy Party

I’ll admit it.  I show my children love by throwing them fun, what my family would refer to as “over-the-top” parties.   I consider it over-the-top when you break the bank, and I really didn’t (for this one).  Heh.
fairy birthday girl
We’re kicking it off with a fun birthday banner! 
pink red green fairy party
The paper pack is from Stampin’ Up, and I used Cricut Cartridges (Storybook for “birthday” and CTMH’s cartridge for “Happy”).  What I was the most excited about is the background.  I saw it used in a display at Michael’s and immediately asked if they sell it.  They DO!  It’s bulletin board background found in the education section for teachers.  There are all kinds too.fairy birthday party
On the table:  a fairy planter used to hold napkins, tissue paper lined clear bowls for goldfish and pretzels, fairy terrarium, extra goodies, and favors

fairy sugar cookies
I made these fairy cookies with royal icing ahead of time using flower, crown, and wand shaped cookie cutters.
fairy marshmallow pops
No, sorry.  These aren’t cake pops.  They’re just marshmallows dipped in melted pink candies and sprinkled with different kinds of sprinkles.  I suggest covering your foam cone in aluminum foil and hot gluing it to a candle stand.
fairy terrarium
I used a cake stand to make a quick fairy terrarium with a little decorated wooden birdhouse my girls painted, a fairy figurine, and some clay mushrooms, all nestled on a nest of faux moss.
drink station
The drink station:  pink lemonade of course with extra wide color coordinated straws and decorated little water bottles.
fairy bottle labels
The fairy stamps are from CTMH- Believe in Your Dreams, and Birthday Princess(?)
fairy station
As each guest arrived (wearing her own tutu by request), she was turned into a fairy by my 8 year-old helper fairies.  Each guest received dollar store wings, and a tiny crown, the girls blew bubbles around her, sprinkled glitter on her, and gave her her fairy name (middle name + favorite flower).
fairy costumes
My five year-old helpers were my “gift fairies.”  They took the gifts from arriving guests and put them in the appropriate place.
dress up station
Inside we had a dress up station
a doll house
face paint station
a face paint station
fairy lounge
and a fairy lounge where several fairy-themed books were collected.  Note the painted toadstool where Madeline sat to open her presents.
homemade fairy wands
After a little play time, the girls made fairy wands (dollar section at Michael’s) by decorating them with stick on jewels.
fairy party game
They needed their wands to play “What Time is it, Fairy Godmother?” 
fairy dancing
After several group shots and fairy dancing
The birthday girl blew out her candles.
fairy cake
Target does a really good job with birthday cakes in our opinion.  For this one, I chose the Tinkerbell cake, but I asked them to use the topper and accessories from the Fairy Garden cake.  Voila!
play dough favors
Each fairy went home with a package of sparkly purple play dough (see recipe) and rotini noodles I dyed pink.  They’re just fun to use with the play dough.  Each package was tied with a little bottle of bubbles and a fairy thank-you tag.
Lavender Sparkly Fairy Dough
3 cups flour
1 1/2 cups salt
2 TBS. cream of tartar
3 cups water
1/3 cup oil
3 TBS. food coloring (optional)
several drops of essential oil like lavender
a generous shaking of glitter
Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly until mixture forms into a ball. Remove and knead until dough is soft and has lost its stickiness. Keeps well in a sealed container for a good long time. This recipe makes enough for sharing.
The most adorable fairy of all was our 11 week old puppy, Sunshine!
puppy fairy
Enjoy!  : )

Friday, October 14, 2011

Let Me Be Frank- cupcakes

Frankenstein Halloween cupcakes
I saw these cupcakes on the Better Homes and Gardens website by way of Pinterest, and knew Madeline would be taking them to preschool for her 4th birthday.  I love, love, LOVE having an October baby!  The possibilities are endless…

Speaking of endless possibilities…did you know food coloring comes in an aerosol CAN?  Oh, yeah!  As I was spraying these marshmallows green (and turning myself into the Wicked Witch of the West), I was looking around trying to see what ELSE needed a green hue.  It was pretty late, so I’m saving it for when inspiration strikes.

Here’s the birthday girl in her fabulous birthday cupcake outfit made by a very talented local lady named Jennifer.  
cupcake shirt set

She specializes in handmade boutique-y looking outfits for siblings with her piece de resistance being her righteous matching head pieces for girls.  Her tent at our local craft fair was a-MAZ-ing!  If money were no object…

And just because I got a good chuckle during my preschool visit…
It’s “E” week at preschool this week, so here is an “elephant chain” to go along with the song I can’t get out of my head.  I’ll spare you…
Thanks as always for looking!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Face Painting With Gram

My mom does a bit of clowning on the side, usually at her work place- the YMCA in Lynchburg.  So during her last visit, we decided to get out the face paint and have some fun.face painting with Gram
The girls are painting Gram’s arms since she has a stringent skin care regiment.  I painted Madeline the cat, and my mom painted Savannah in the pink.  Don’t really know what she is.
Snazaroo is my favorite paint.  I know there’s better stuff out there, but it’s all I need and some what affordable.
face painting mommy
I am seriously lovin’ this rainbow cake I got from Diamond X(?)  It makes the uber-requested butterfly like a 2 minute quickee.  This is Lexi painting a flag on me- USA?  Australia?  Who knows….

The following three pics were painted on a different day, but I thought I’d throw them in just for documenting’s sake.
wrestler face paint
Savannah the professional wrestler (whose stage name is Merwoman!)
snake arm paint
With the shirt and the snakes…I’m hoping there’s no leather and a Harley in her future.  Buh!
Princess madeline face paint
And yet another picture of Princess Madeline.  I’m thinking I need to save the $15 per kid and just take the essentials to Disney with us next time we go.  She’s so happy!  : )

Thanks for looking!

Monday, October 10, 2011

The Trees Have Eyes

spooky tree eyes
This was one of those crafts that looked really cool in the magazine/blog (I can’t remember where I saw it) and then kind of weak when I attempted it.  Perhaps it would lend itself better to a bush, but you work with what you’ve got.  It was really easy, and the kids love it.  That’s all you can really ask for…
tree eyes craft
Basically, I just cut styrofoam balls in half, hot glued them to a popsicle stick, glued on some black felt pupils and eyebrows on a couple and twisted hanger wire to hang them on the tree.  I think we had more fun putting them up to our own eyes and pretending we were the Simpsons!  : )

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Tag Sale Treasure- Whoot!

Anyone who knows me knows that Purcellville’s Town Wide Tag Sale is right up there with Christmas as one of my favorite days of the year.  Coincidentally, I get a lot of my Christmas shopping done being that in my immediate family we have a rule that gifts have to be handmade or second hand.
I didn’t score HUGE this past Saturday like I did last year (Little Tikes Cocoa Cafe for $20? Are you kidding me??)  However, I did add some treasures to my to-be-refurbed stash.
Check out this sweet wooden paper tray I got for a BUCK! 
wooden paper tray
My refurbishing experience is limited to an owl clock and a mirror I made over for my daughters’ rooms, so this one is a challenge.  The metals pieces are attached with brads, not screws.  Any advice on painting it?  Should I just tape up the metal?  Can you tell I’m intimidated?
I got his dog dish ($3) for our 10 week old golden retriever puppy, Sunshine. 
dog dish
It’s going to get a Virginia Tech Hokie makeover,…and then we’re going to have to figure out where to put it.
These rainbow glasses ($2) caught my eye, but now I realize they don’t nest inside each other, and that’s a lot of cabinet space.
Rainbow glasses
There were Halloween decorations at almost every sale, and I could literally have bought them ALL!  However, I limited myself to just this cool lantern ($1.50).
Halloween lantern
The picture doesn’t do this HUMUNGOUS bag justice.  It’s from the Company Store ($3) and  like 3 feet in diameter.  It will easily store 2 king comforters (or a child in timeout.)  : )
Huge company store bag
The piece de resistance for the day was this Barbie dream house ($30) that I considered saving for Christmas.   That would have been a labor of love, and it was more fun to see the expressions on my girls’ faces when they saw it.  The basket of Barbie accessories ($5) was a separate score.
Barbie doll house
I was gone for several hours, so Rich took the girls to see Dolphin Tale…like this.  Boots…athletic shorts…t-shirt…hair brushed? 
questionable style
They came home happy and healthy, so I can’t complain.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Halloween Jar Labels

We started a “gem jar” reward system at our house for our girls 3, 6, and 8, about a year ago and it has been wildly successful.  Not only does it give me something to decorate for the seasons, but the girls have ownership and try to earn gems daily.
Halloween Jar Labels

Friends of ours have similar systems using marbles, and some of them even attach monetary values to the marbles (i.e. each marble = a quarter.)  However, we have two levels.  If my girls fill it halfway, it’s worth a small toy/prize like a trip out for ice cream or a play date, and if they fill it all the way it’s worth more like a friend sleeping over for my oldest or a new Monster High doll.  They set their own goals and work toward them.

We also have two different size gems (we’re talking the kind that come in mesh bags and people use in the bottom of fishbowls.)  They can earn one or several small gems for completing chores, taking care of responsibilities without being reminded, etc. OR a SUPER gem (it’s probably 5-6 times the size of a regular gem) for being extra nice to a sibling, extra chores, etc.  They can also lose gems for poor behavior- right now it’s the 8 year old’s back sass.  She’s on track to having her next sleepover in her dorm room.

I’ve found that there are two keys to making the gem jar system a success.
1.  The girls are responsible for adding and subtracting gems.  I give THEM the gems and THEY physically put it in their jars.  They are also the ones that have to fish out the gems and hand them back.  It just gives it a little more meaning- kind of like when I have to use cash instead of a credit card, makes it a little more real. : )
2.  It’s important to make sure they are able to earn a prize pretty quickly the first time, then regulate it from there.  No kid is going to get excited over a system that takes a month to earn- that’s like a decade in kid years.

So far it hasn’t occurred to them to steal from each other’s jars, but my middle child is so altruistic, she keeps giving her gems to her sisters.  I have to make mental notes to put them back because they didn’t earn them.  Checks and balances, you know.

Lastly, just because I’m weak there have been a few times that I tell my kids something is worth an automatic full jar.  One time it was whoever found my cell phone and another is when they finish a chapter book for the first time by themselves.  There have been others, but the elude me.

Happy Fall-oween!