Monday, December 19, 2011

DIY Christmas gift: A Barbie carrying case

Earlier in the fall, I found this glorious find at my local Goodwill.

What, you don't think it's glorious?!? I know the pink is a little alarming and it is, after all, just an old suitcase, but I looooove old suitcases and can't get enough of them lately. I actually didn't have a plan for this baby. I just saw it on the shelf, checked it for broken hinges, gave it a thumbs up and threw it in my cart. Pretty much every time I go into any thrift store, I check the luggage section. Not to give away my secret or anything but if you've been on Pinterest lately, you've seen how often repurposed luggage is showing up. From a stacked suitcase night stand to kitty beds. So, no, I don't ever pass up a cheap piece of luggage.

When I pulled this piece out of my car, I noticed something familiar about that particular shade of pink. Where had I seen that? And then it hit me, Barbie! It's the perfect shade of Barbie pink. And then I knew what I was going to do with that suitcase. It would make an excellent carrying case for the gobs of Barbies my girls have laying around their bedroom. Let me tell you, I have 3 girls, ages 5, 8 and 9 and with them being in the height of their Barbie-playing years, they've got a lot of junk. What they don't have is a trunk for all that junk. All I needed to do was stencil that familiar barbie logo on the outside and viola, I'd have it! Here's how I did it.

The inside of the case, as you can see, is already perfect for holding all their dolls and the little pouches on the sides will hold all those shoes and clothes they have. So let's just go straight to the outside.

First I went online and looked up Barbie logos. I found the name and the silhouette logos I liked and printed them out.

One thing I noticed with this suitcase is that it was a little faded on one side so the pinks were just a shade or two off from each other. I know my girls would never notice, but let's face it, this project was just as much a present for me as it was for them and I wouldn't stop noticing it so I decided to do the silhouette on the perfect pink side and do a reverse stencil of the name logo on the other side. That way, there wouldn't be enough of the faded pink to really notice a difference.

I bought some black spray paint made specifically for painting plastic and created two stencils. Let me just say, if I had a Silhouette, things would have been a lot easier and less time consuming, but I don't have a Silhouette so this is a true DIY project.

I tore a piece of wax paper big enough to cover the image I wanted to cut out. Then I took green painters tape and stuck it to the wax paper, overlapping as I went, until I had an area slightly bigger than my image.

Next, I taped my image over the green tape/wax paper and used an exacto knife to cut it out. What I had after everything was cut, was my stencil. All I had to do was peel away the wax paper and stick it down. On the barbie head side, I masked off everything around the stencil so the only black would be the silhouette and on the other side, I stuck the letters on and painted everything else black.

One mistake I made when painting over the barbie head stencil was that I put several layers of paint on at once and this caused the paint to bleed under the tape a little. No worries, though, I just used some goof off, a toothbrush and a sharpie to clean up the edges. On the other side, I learned my lesson and did one coat at a time for a nice clean edge.

I'm so happy with how it turned out. This was one of those once in a lifetime lightbulb ideas for me, so I'm hoping my girls love it!

The next time you see a suitcase in a thrift store or a garage sale, look at the color and think of the toys your kids play with. Is it Ninja Turtle green? Star Wars blue? Lego red? Almost any color suitcase could be turned into a great carrying case for all those toys with accessories out the wazoo!

Linking up to these blogs:

Sumo's Sweet Stuff

Tip Junkie handmade projects

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

A Perfectly Random Thursday

This past week has been a hodgepodge of activities. On Friday night, I wanted to take my girls to the movies since Mr. Park and my boy were hunting. At first, I planned on taking them to the dollar movie, but the only movie playing there was the smurfs. Thankfully, I remembered the historic theater in town that usually plays old Christmas movies around this time of year. I checked their schedule and sure enough, they were showing White Christmas. Oh, how I love that movie. And to see it at The Paramount really makes it an experience. Here's a shot of the girls before the movie started. This was taken right after April said, "Oh my goodness! This place is so romantic!"

I was really proud because the place was packed. It seems like so much is vying for our attention these days, especially with movies, so it was refreshing to see a theater almost completely filled to see a Christmas movie from 1954. And the audience ranged from little kids to senior citizens with lots of college students in between.

On Saturday night, our family had a date to watch Rudolph on CBS. Of course, we all know the words and say them out loud along with all the songs. When April was just 2 1/2, she cried at the part where Rudolph didn't get to play in all the reindeer games. We thought it was just a fluke, but when we asked her what was wrong, she said she felt sorry for Rudolph because he got left out. Now, whenever we get to that part in the movie, everyone looks at April to see how she's doing. This year she got a little irritated and said, "Stop looking at me. I'm not gonna cry this time!"

After Rudolph, we watched It's a Wonderful Life and I cried like I always do. It's such a good movie to watch to reset yourself if you're feeling overwhelmed with the commercialism of the holidays or just hopeless in your situation. It reminds me that I always have something to be thankful for.

Speaking of being thankful, I got my Christmas present early this year. And this is it.

As you can imagine, I've been making smoothies like a mad woman. I'm sure one of these days I'll get around to watching the DVD that came with it so I can get my money's worth out of it, but for now, I'm happy to make a delicious smoothie every morning for Mr. Park before work and have him tell me that it really hit the spot and he didn't even think about food until well after noon.

One evening this past week, Mr. Park played a game with the kids where he would hide a little elf ornament while the kids sat on the couch. Then the kids would open their eyes and try to see who could spot it first. It turned into a story time where Mr Park told the kids about the mean side of Santa's elves. And then my boy, who is always looking for an opportunity to liven things up, dressed up as what he imagines a scary elf would look like, quietly went out the back door, walked around the house to the front door and knocked. The evening ended in screams and running around and eventually a request to be walked to bed because they were scared. I always say our kids are either going to be the most well-rounded kids on the block or they're going to need therapy.

This is what I found when I walked in from taking a short trip to the store yesterday. I wonder if this is what the rapture is going to look like.

Here's some random things I've heard from my kids this past week.

On music:

(With Kenny G's version of Silver Bells playing on the radio)

Autie: Can you change this, please. I don't like jazz.

Me: I didn't know you even knew what jazz was.

Autie: Oh, yeah, I know about jazz and I don't like it.

On travel:

April: (with a sigh) I can't wait to go to France someday and see the awful tower.

On being efficient:

The kids' Papa came over to cut some wood and when April went out to see him he had his foot propped up on his truck tying his shoe.

April: Hey, Papa, whatcha doing?

Papa: I'm tying my shoe, darlin.

April: Why'd you come over here to do it?

On respect:

Me: Anna, I need a response from you. When you just shrug, I think you're ignoring me.

Anna: Yes, ma'am. (rolling eyes)

April: Ahhhh, I remember when I used to say, yes ma'am. Yes ma'am, yes mam, yes ma'am."

My favorite Christmas cookie. Period.

Hey, everyone, I'm guest blogging over at Tales of a Clyde Woman today. I'm sharing my favorite holiday cookie recipe. They're yummy and easy so you need to be making them this season. And Leilani is posting cookie recipes all this week so if you don't have a go-to cookie recipe, you need to go to her blog. ;) That, and the fact that she is a really funny woman with stories that will keep you snickering to yourself all day long!

Friday, December 09, 2011

A crafty Christmas project

Do y'all remember that great fortune I got last week when we had our annual look at Christmas lights and buy a tree night? Well, it was a keeper. And I'm already making good on it. I'm really proud of this project because I feel like it really fits me but is something I probably never would have done in years past.

Last month, I entered a contest for a room redo idea board and I won. Not only did that light a huge fire under my rear to make things the way I want them in my house, but it also introduced me to a great blog I hadn't known about. Ashley from The Handmade Home has a great design eye and she's always coming up with something fresh and fun for her house. The other day, she shared a project she did in her dining room that I knew I had to try. I was needing something for the space above my mantle and I could see this filling it.

I'll spare you all the details of my project as she has a perfectly good post on the whole thing over at her site. But I will share some of the process and some creative problem solving I had to do in order to get things just right.

Here we have a "u-g-l-y you-ain't-got-no-alibi" wreath I got from Goodwill for $1.99. Come to think of it, I probably paid too much for it. ;) It had decent bones, though, so I snatched it up. And I am so sorry for the orangey-ness of this photo. I hope I didn't burn your eyes. I couldn't find a good place to take a picture where that stupid wreath didn't camouflage itself into the background. After stripping it down of all it's gaudy fall glory, I had a plain old straw wreath to start my project.

I didn't get pictures of this next step because I was on a mission and when I'm on a mission, I can't be bothered by taking pictures of every tedious step. I hope to change that this next year. I know people like a good visual.

Basically, I took an old vintage Christmas tablecloth that I got at a thrift store for $2, took a deep breath  and started ripping it into strips. It was actually quite liberating. I tend to hold on to things when I find a good deal, but that often turns into a hoarding mentality and I never end up using all the good stuff I find. I knew those kinds of tablecloths were a dime a dozen if you know where to look so even if my project didn't work out, I still wouldn't be out much. I took those strips and wrapped them around my wreath, hot-gluing until the wreath was covered, then I set out to find some little trinket/ornament type stuff to dress it up. I was liking the direction it was going but I couldn't see where it was going to end up and I needed more supplies to make the letters that would go on either side of the wreath, so I went to town and figured it would all just come to me.

After a crazy day in town, with my three girls, I felt like it was close to a wasted trip. I had some silver glitter and white satin ribbon and some spray adhesive. I forgot to take an extra strip of my material so I could make sure I got the right shade of red or green so I ended up just going with silver glitter and white ribbon which made for a very blah arrangement. Here's how things looked after I finished cutting out and glittering the letters.

 Ummm, I'm not feelin' it.

I was determined not to scrap the whole idea because I loved it so much. I went digging through my craft stash looking for something that would work with those silver glittered letters when I spotted a tablecloth I had picked up at Goodwill during the summer for $1.89. But it was a blue plaid. Hmmm, blue plaid. I started looking at that blue and remembered how much I like houses with blue lights on them, especially when there's snow on the ground. Something sentimental about it, I guess. I decided I would go with an icy blue theme and switch the location to my kitchen window where I have a line of vintage blue Ball jars. Perfect.

I covered the wreath in strips of the blue plaid, found an old plastic ornament, glittered it up and added a couple of glittery white plastic leaves that fell off of one of my centerpieces. I hung it in the window with a thumb tack and hot glued the letters to the metal frame of the window. Viola!

I'm loving the blue in my kitchen. I couldn't get myself to think outside of the red/green box until I encountered a roadblock, but once I did, it opened up something different that I love. I seriously can't stop looking at it! Which is convenient because that sink is where I spend a good 60% of my day and that window is what I look at the whole time I'm standing there.

Linking to The Nester and
these blogs:


Sumo's Sweet Stuff

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

It's beginning to sound a lot like Christmas

One of the things I love about Christmas is that it has its own sound. I love music anyway, but when you take great classic music that you can (and should) only listen to for a short time, once a year, it becomes really sentimental and special. That's the way it is with Christmas music. Over the years, especially since I've been married to Mr Park, I've narrowed down my selection of cd's I listen to. Of course, I listen to the radio when I'm in the car, and I like to listen to Pandora when I'm cooking or housecleaning, but this collection has become my go-to stash for several years now. I've added one or two, but I imagine this club will stay pretty exclusive. There's not much room for newcomers in the Christmas music category.

Today I thought I'd share my list of favorites and a little about how each one made the cut. Now, I'm no music reviewer. In fact, I've looked at the liner notes on old albums and even reviews on i-tunes and I do not speak that language. I don't notice bass tones and rifts or continuity and bridges. Even though my husband is a musician and he can discuss that stuff at length with the best of them, I either like it or I don't and I usually can't explain why. But I'll try to give you a little more than that, here.

These first two are pretty sentimental and we don't pull them out until we're ready to officially begin the Christmas season in our house. Usually while we decorate the Christmas tree. When Mr Park was little, his mom used to buy Goodyear Christmas albums every year. If you're not familiar with the promo that Goodyear put on for a number of years, here's a commercial from 1963 about it. 

When Mr Park and I lived in Arlington, he found these albums at the public library sale. These two have an all around good collection of songs most everyone is familiar with. These are the classics sung by the greats. And you can still find them in old record shops and thrift stores. For a while, I was always hunting them. Then I realized it's not much of a hunt because they're not really that hard to find. I've included a link to a guy that sells these already converted to cd.

This next one could possibly be my favorite Christmas cd of all time. I know that probably seems weird, considering all the great classic Christmas music out there, but I'm a sucker for the big band stuff. If you grew up in the church, you probably remember Russ Taff from his Imperials days. I grew up listening to that stuff so I probably picked up this cd because I recognized the name and I could tell from the microphone that I would like the music. ;) Or maybe it was during the time I was a member of that cd mafia club and it was unbelievably easy to build a cd collection without spending much money. This particular cd came out in 1992 and I've probably played it a hundred times since then. Speaking of Russ Taff, did you know his wife is a blogger? Her name is Tori and she's pretty funny. Here's a link to her blog.

I spent my teenage years in the 80's so I'm naturally a big fan of Annie Lennox. She had me at "Sweet dreams are made of this." When I saw that she had a Christmas album out last year I was intrigued. First of all, I love the cd cover. It's something I have to be really careful about. I'll buy anything if I like the way it's packaged. This cd's beauty isn't just skin deep, though. It has an old English sound, like the way I imagine Christmas carols sounded in the 1800's. It's different, but I really like it.

My Diana Krall Christmas cd came out in 2005, but I just got it a couple of years ago. This is just a simple case of loving a certain sound. I could probably listen to Diana Krall sing the phonebook. This one has a classic sound with a full jazz orchestra accompanying.

I've saved the best for last at my husband's request. This is a compilation cd he made in 1999. It contains his all time favorite Christmas songs. He took them from a bunch of cd's and painstakingly put them in the perfect order so it can merit the title, "The Greatest Little Christmas Album of All Tiime!" It's the one we take with us when we get our tree and look at Christmas lights every year. It's also the one that Mr Park plays on Christmas morning to wake up the kids. We've listened to it so many times that we know the order of the songs and can start singing the next song before it begins. 

I've told you my favorites, now what are yours?

A few Christmas traditions

 Sunday afternoon, Mr Park and I loaded the family in the suburban and headed to the big city. First, we stopped by the zoo to see if the ice skating rink was up like it has been in past years. No go. The kids were a little upset but I was relieved because I don't ice skate anymore and it was too cold for me to sit and pretend I was interested in anyone iceskating. Next we headed to our favorite chinese restaurant and ate steaming hot bowls of hot and sour soup and stuffed ourselves at the buffet. Well, ok, I stuffed myself. The kids have learned their lesson with chinese food and are starting to get the concept of moderation. Plates were cleaned, ice cream cones finished off and fortune cookies cracked open and read. Here's what mine said...

I'll let you know if anything crafty develops around here this week. After supper, we drove through some old neighborhoods known for their Christmas lights. Mr Park popped one of our favorite Christmas cd's in the player and then, as we passed a house decked out in old school, traditional house lights, he announced that the Christmas spirit had hit him. Here's how the conversation went...

Mr Park: Ahhhh, it just hit me.
Me: What?
Mr Park: The Christmas spirit. Just now. Ohhhh, I love it! Has it hit anybody else yet?
April: I got it! It just hit me!
Autumn: Me, too!
Anna: Ooooh, me too!
Me: Really, Anna?!?
Anna: No, I'm just kidding. I don't feel anything yet.
John: Let's roll down the windows until we're freezing to death.
Mr Park: What about you, Pam.
Me: I've had it since October 31st.

Right as we were all getting hit in the face with the Christmas spirit, one of my children announced that she had to go to the bathroom. And not just a little. She was in emergency mode when she decided to tell us. (Aren't they always?) We finished the tour in super sonic speed and went to search for a bathroom. The first place we saw was a donut shop. We pulled in and Mr Park decided that we needed to add another tradition to our list. We let the kids pick out a donut, drink hot chocolate and use the potty. Speaking of traditions, weren't they just made for kids? My kids love them and are always looking for more to add. On our way out of the donut shop parking lot, they saw a carwash and said, "Can we make it a tradition to get a carwash when we look at Christmas lights every year?" That's about how often I wash my car, but no, I gotta draw the line at a carwash tradition. 

This year, the gas station where we usually get our tree, didn't have any. So we went to Lowe's because we needed some other things, too. We picked out a tree, got a couple extra strands of lights, some beautiful half priced poinsettias and a water filter for our icebox.

I know I said I wanted to be fully present when we did all of our Christmas stuff, but I have to confess, I did lose it a little toward the end of the night. The kids were getting tired and irritated with each other and I knew the night wasn't near over. We still had to get the tree in the house, put it in the stand, pull out the lights and string them on the tree. And by the time all that was done 2 out of our 4 kids had fallen asleep in front of the fire. I let my oldest girl put some ornaments on the tree before we called it a night.

We woke up to a light dusting of snow on Monday morning, so I decided we only needed a light dusting of school work and a heavy dusting of the house. We did laundry, cleaning, organizing, and more decorating. But first, my girls started the day with a science lesson. Namely, water and it's different forms!

Friday, December 02, 2011

This weekend, I'll be climbing up into the attic, pulling down all those familiar red and green plastic storage boxes and decorating for Christmas. I'm not much of a holiday decorator, or even a regular decorator for that matter, but for Christmas, I try to make an effort. I do like the way the Christmas season has a look all it's own. But, I don't want to go crazy with it. I want my kids to remember the warmth and coziness of this time of year. I want them to remember the time we spent together doing things and enjoying each other. I don't want them to remember me snapping at them for stepping on the Christmas tree lights, again. I don't want them to remember sitting around the tree, amazed at how those little colored lights can make you feel like all is right with the world, while mom was in the kitchen clanging dishes into the dishwasher. I want to be fully present this year.

With that said, I feel a scale down coming. I have a lot of things that I take out every year and stick somewhere just because they were in the box. A lot of it I don't even like. I don't want it to look like Father Christmas threw up in my living room. I want it to look simple. And inviting. Without all the fussiness. I'm even seeing visions of the expensive nativity set my mother-in-law gave me several years ago, painted white. Can I do that? Will I? I guess we'll know soon enough.

So, this weekend, I'll be weeding out the things that I don't love. And I feel like I'm going to be really strict. It's gonna take a lot to make the cut. (I can see all the ornaments in the box right now, like in some movie from Pixar, discussing who'll get to stay and who'll get tossed. Some will start to say their goodbyes early just in case it's them and in the middle of it all will be our old, vintage elf doll, reassuring them just like Woody would do.) I'll try to find something simple to do with my mantle and maybe even make some new stockings. I hate the ones I have that I picked up from the dollar store years ago.

On Sunday, we'll head out to buy a tree from the local gas station, eat out at the kids' favorite chinese restaurant, come home and start to decorate. I'll fumble with the lights a lot longer than I expected to and we'll end up sending the kids to bed before the decorating has even started. But it'll be different. I'll be there for real this time. I won't just trudge through it because it's something on the list that needs to get done. I don't want to try to fabricate idyllic scenes hoping to ensure good memories for my kids. I think we all know how well that works. They'll know. Kids are too smart for that.

I guess what I'm wanting to do more than anything this year is create an atmosphere where my kids feel loved, wanted and worth my time. And of course, I want them to know what it is we are celebrating in the first place, the simple fact that we were loved, wanted and worth His time.

Thursday, December 01, 2011

Things kids say

From time to time I'll be posting things that my kids say because as you may know, I don't scrapbook and I'm a terrible journaler. (I think I made up that word) I have four kids and three of them are girls so I pretty much have an endless supply of good material for this blog. Don't worry, though, I have lots of other important things to blog about. Today just isn't one of those days.

On Homeschool vs Public:

(This is one of those conversations that really boosts my confidence in the decision I made to homeschool my kids. (Note: I may or may not have said the things I was accused of. I don't remember. If I did, I'm sure I didn't mean it.))

April (5yo): Mom, remember when we drove by the school and you said it was junky? 

Me: I don't remember saying that.

April: Remember, I said I wanted to go back to my old school and you said oh, you don't want to go back to that junky old school? 

Me: I don't remember using those words exactly, why?

April: Well, I was just in my room with Blaise, and she can read already and I can't and so I was thinking well, maybe that school's not so junky after all.

Me: (sigh)

On favorite colors:

Autumn (8yo): Hey, what's everyone's favorite color?

April: I like puwple.

Autumn: I like blue.

Anna (9yo): I like cayenne. 

Me: (perking up) Oh, Anna, that's a great color. You mean, the rusty red color?

Anna: No, it's not red at all.

Me: Oh, wait, do you mean cyan?

Anna: Yeah, that's it. I got the c sounds mixed up.

On future professions:

Me: What do y'all want to be when you grow up?

Autie: I want to be a massage therapist.

Anna: I want to work in the reptile section at the zoo so I can bring home a snake and scare John.

April: I want to be in karate.