Sunday, January 29, 2012

An Easy Way to Display Artwork

5 year old? Check.
Constant stream of completed worksheets from school? Check.
Seemingly never ending stacks of the finest 5 year old artwork? Check.
A place to display said worksheets and artwork that doesn't involve taping them to a door or hanging them from the fridge? Check, check, check!

Here's how ...

All you need is an inexpensive cafe rod and some drapery rings. I already had a cafe rod on hand but it was white with gold trim. Since black is the new black around my house I spray painted the rod and hanging hardware first. I picked up a few packs of curtain clip rings, slipped them on the rod before I hung it (be sure to use the center support if you are making it super long) and was ready to display our beautiful works of art. Now, each day I just replace the oldest with something new. The display is ever changing, always represents the season or holiday and since ours is in the dining room we have a conversation starter for dinner every night. Plus the entire project cost less than $20. 

Have your own artist and want to make something special for them? Then you need this free painter's palette applique design

If you're the type that reads blogs (psst, that's you) please consider following me. Comments are always welcome too! I would love to hear about the creative ways that you plan to use the design and how you might be using your own artwork display in your home too.


Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Storing and Organizing Board Games and Puzzles

Stuff!  We all have it, some more than others. For most of us the challenge is finding where to put the stuff and I don't mean where to shove it or store it with no hopes of easily getting to it but rather where to put it so that it can still be used for it's intended purpose by those it was intended to be used by. 

With 3 kids we have a lot of stuff but there is one category that we seem to have more than our share of ... puzzles and board games. Every year for many, many years now the girls have received puzzles and board games for Christmas. We also have a habit of buying several large puzzles every summer that the kids work on when it's too hot outside or they just aren't interested in doing anything else. Other than the space they take up while we are working on them there really isn't anything negative about puzzles. That is, until you have to store a bunch of them. Our puzzles and board games lived on the lower shelves of a gigantic bookshelf in the den since we moved in to this house and honestly, it was a site for sore eyes. I was constantly straightening them up after the kids dug through for whatever they were looking for. It was really getting to be a problem so I did what every mom would do ... I bought some baskets. Big baskets. Big enough to get 4 board games in 1 basket. While this was an improvement it still wasn't working for me. Next came the ziploc bags and this my friends is where everything came together. In 1 basket I was able to fit 19 games including 8 board games. As for the puzzles I was able to fit, are you ready for it, really you aren't going to believe this ... 34 puzzles! (Yes, we have more than 34 puzzles.) Here's how I did it ...

First off my baskets are pretty big, 19x10x13, and I bought 4 of them. I didn't really like the fabric liner that was in them so I made new ones but that will have to be a completely different post. Next came the ziploc bags. We have a lot of smaller puzzles, 100 pieces or less. For each puzzle I put the pieces in a quart size bag, cut off the front of the box with the picture, put it in the bag and zipped it up. I used the zip style bags rather than the locking type to make it easier for little hands to close them. For the larger puzzles I used gallon bags and did the same thing ... pieces in, picture cut and in, zzzzzip!  Done! Super easy! The board games weren't any different. The size of the bag depended on how many pieces there were but the concept was the same except instead of the puzzle picture I stuck the instructions in and zzzzzip! Done! What about the boards? Those are all neatly folded and at the back of the basket. Just pick out the bag with the pieces and grab the corresponding board and you're ready to play. Obviously there were a few board games that weren't going to fit in a bag so we still have those in the boxes but that's fine. The amount of space we gained was substantial and it is so much easier for the kids to find what they want, even easier to clean it up when they are finished, and it cost me less than $30 because the baskets were on sale. Think I'm crazy? Try it! You won't believe how easy it is for everyone.

Have you found an easy remedy for a storage issue in your house? If so, please share in the comment section so we can all copy ... um, I mean, be inspired, who am I kidding, I mean copy.  

This basket is 19x10x13.

That's right, 34 puzzles!

19 games including 8 board games. The boards are all folded on the right.

P.S. I keep a quart size bag nearby that has all of the stray pieces. Any puzzle piece or game piece that turns up out of place goes in the bag. If we're looking for a missing piece we have only 1 place to look, in the bag.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Adding Ribbon to my Masquerade Mask Applique Design and Easy Carrot

Have you seen my masquerade mask applique design in my etsy shop? How about my simple carrot applique design? If so, you may have wondered how I attached the korker ribbon. The steps are all in the design and it is super easy thanks to my trusty friend, tape. This tutorial works for both designs.

First, you will need korker ribbon. There are a lot of tutorials for how to make korker ribbon online and you can even buy it pre-korked (is that a word?). Basically you need grosgrain ribbon, a dowel, some spray starch, clothes pins and an oven. It's easy, just a little time consuming. I usually do a lot at one time and work with what I have for a while until I need something else. Since this isn't a tutorial for korker ribbon I won't go into the steps but if you don't know how you can check out this ehow article to get the idea. FYI, it doesn't mention spray starch but I like to spray mine down before baking.  

The first 2 steps of the design are for the ribbon. If you don't want the ribbon you can skip these steps and probably don't need this tutorial. The first step is essentially a placement stitch for the ribbon. This shows you where to tape your ribbon down.  If you're wondering I started with 13" strips of ribbon for the masquerade design.  I trimmed a few inches away in the end but it really depends on your intended purpose how long you want the ribbon to be.

Step 2 will go over the placement stitch twice to secure the ribbon. After this remove the tape and trim the excess ribbon if you left a little too much.  

Steps 3 and 4 are the placement and tack for the mask fabric. Step 5 is the placement for the eyes. Depending on what you have in mind you may want to trim the fabric away from the eye holes. To do this I carefully run my trimming scissors so there is a tiny little pucker in the fabric and snip a very small (teeny) opening. Once I have confirmed that I didn't snip through my garment I then use that opening to insert my scissors and trim away.   

After this the design is ready to finish. Step 6 is the satin for the mask. Step 7 is the contrast detail on the satin stitch and step 8 is the eyes. And you're done! Wasn't that easy?