Friday, January 17, 2014

DIY Gift That Brings Smiles

I mentioned in my last post that it was a very DIY-ish Christmas.  Not only did my hubby create the mother of all Barbie houses for our daughter but I got on the bandwagon too and decided to go all homemade for the grandparents' gifts.

I found a fast and easy little project on Pinterest that seemed to be gaining popularity as I had seen a gazillion posts on it.  Decorating cheap ceramic ware with Sharpies and baking the pieces to set the ink.  The possibilities are endless!  I knew that I wanted to try this project with my 3-year-old and create some special keepsakes for the grandparents.

Before diving right in I decided to do more research on the effectiveness of using just plain ol' Sharpies.  I'm so glad I delved further into the topic because I read quite a bit of disappointed responses that included, "This didn't work for me!" or "I followed your directions exactly and when I washed my plates, the ink came right off."  I decided right then that I would not be using regular Sharpies.  The only way to ensure a stay-put image is to use the more expensive oil-based Sharpie or the equivalent.  Works great!

First we made plates.  I colored my daughter's thumb and pointer finger with the black marker and pressed onto the plates to make the bellies.  I added arms and legs and let her take over with the heads.  A polka dot border kept things simple.

Next, we made matching bowls.  Again, my daughter was in full control of making the faces (it's her specialty) and I covered the rest.

Materials Used:
matching plates and bowls from the Dollar Tree
Sharpie Oil Based Paint markers in black, light blue, and red
(Warningthe red ink turns magenta after baking but still looks pretty)
rubbing alcohol and Q-tips (for erasing mistakes)

How We Did It:
  1. First I removed all stickers from the plates and bowls and rinsed any dust/dirt off.
  2. Colored my daughter's thumb and pointer finger and pressed onto plates to create the "bellies."  She added the heads and I finished the rest. (Warning - the marker dried VERY fast on my daughter's skin so I had to work quickly in order to get a decent print onto the plate.  Some turned out better than others but I'm one who prefers slight imperfections on homemade items.  Endearing.)
  3. Made the matching bowls but with no thumbprints.
  4. Placed dishes on baking sheets and put into a cold oven (not turned on).
  5. Set oven to 350 degrees.  When heated, bake for 30 minutes.
  6. Turn oven off and let cool without removing dishes.  Remove dishes after oven has cooled.
  7. I let our dishes sit overnight before hand washing them.
These would make great candy dishes if you didn't feel comfortable eating off of them.  Although my mom called me the next day to proudly announce that she and my dad had already enjoyed their breakfast on the dishes and loved every minute.  


Saturday, January 4, 2014

A DIY Christmas Surprise

For some reason, Christmas 2013 had a major DIY flavor.  This is not at all a bad thing.  In fact, in my little humble opinion, it's better.  Much better.  Unless you have a problem with managing your time.  Then a DIY Christmas becomes one hairy stress ball.

Let me back up a bit...

My 3-year-old daughter has recently hit her Barbie Alcoholic Phase.  She drowns herself in all things Barbie for hours on end.  I would be lying if I said I didn't play any part in introducing her to the blonde-headed bombshell or that I don't partake in Barbie binges that occur in our house on a daily basis.  In other words, you could call me the enabler.  And I'm okay with that.

The one item that was missing from my daughter's pinked out fantasy world was a Barbie house.  I think we can all agree that you can't really play Barbie without a tricked out pad.  It's just not right.  I remember how important the Barbie Dream House was when I was a wee one.  My heart still aches for that awkward three section plastic contraption.
God, I loved this thing.
(photo courtesy of Google Images)

Thus began the Doll House Project of 2013.  It was going to be the "big gift" for Christmas.  You know, the Red Rider BB Gun hiding in the corner type of gift.  I'm going to be totally honest here and admit that my part in all of this was actually pretty easy.  I simply logged onto Pinterest, found my inspiration, and then coerced my husband to build it.  Oh yeah, and I picked out the paint colors.  Whoop-de-doo.  Therefore that big hairy stress ball landed right in my husband's lap.  I really felt for the poor guy.

Plans and construction began shortly after Thanksgiving.  TOTALLY enough time, right?  Negative.  We should have started the monster back in August.  But what are ya gonna do?  As mentioned before, the inspiration came from this Pinterest link.  It's pretty apparent that this smart couple indeed had started construction in August because their doll house has stairs.  Stairs!  My hubby and I thought, "To hell with a staircase.  Barbie can levitate to the upper levels for all we care." But really, we knew we just didn't have time for things like stairs. Sheesh.

So, for the next 23 days our nightly conversation went something like this (on repeat):

Me: Soooo... how's the project going?
Hubs: (Sigh) I'm getting really nervous about this.
Me: (Playing dumb) Really?  Why?
Hubs: I'm afraid I won't finish in time.
Me: (Lying) Oh I'm sure if you work on it a little every night you'll finish in time.

Fast forward to December 23.  Whilst complaining about all the imperfections (paint, roof, sanding) my husband declares that the hairy stress ball is complete or as complete as it's going to be.  And I'm relieved because things were getting a little scary there for a while.

What started off as a hairy stress ball turned out to be one of the most adorable things my husband has made for our daughter (homemade gifts began a year ago with a vintage kitchenette but that's another story).  My heart swelled when I saw the finished house for the first time all stuffed with hideous plastic furniture.  It was perfect.  I knew our daughter would be rendered speechless and I couldn't wait for Christmas morning.

Project complete

Materials Used:
Behr paint
scrapbook paper


All the other gifts were left in the dust ... for about 20 minutes.

My mom had a small stove that was made for her when she was a little girl and she's kept it all these years. My older sister played with it.  I played with it.  My daughter has played with it.  And if the stars continue to align, her daughter or son will play with it.  It was important to me that my husband take his beautiful handiwork and put it to use toward things that can be handed down just like mom's stove.  I have no doubt that this Barbie house will become one of those cherished family treasures.

My husband may have developed a few ulcers along the way and he is so not the type to boast about his creations but I know deep down he's proud and glad he took the time to make this beloved toy for his little girl.

Hairy stress ball .... so worth it.