Wednesday, December 11, 2013

DIY Silicone lights

When Zach and I first started living together we got a hand me down Christmas tree.  That first year, we didn't have any ornaments so I tucked all the Christmas cards we received in it and we loved it.  After the holidays that year I bought a crap ton (technical term) of ornaments for 90% off!  They were all golds, rich reds, and purples.  The following year we purchased lights for the tree.  What I didn't realize then, was that the new LED lights that were clear are actually 'cool white,' which shines a sort of silvery blue.  I was thankful to have lights on our tree, but I've always hated that they aren't the same golden yellow of the old fashion lights that I love, and that would match my gold ornaments much better.

SOOO......

I'm exploring ways to change the color myself, since buying a new set would run me around $50 for the whole tree.  Today I tried tinted silicone:

Looks good, right?  Not perfect, sure; but they look like candle flames.  Actually, these would make GREAT bulbs to simulate candles.  Well, back to today's business.

Here's what you'll need:

DO use 100% silicone
DO protect your skin with rubber globes
DO this project in an extremely well ventilated area
DO practice a lot before the real deal
DO NOT get the silicone or mineral spirits on your hands, it can burn
DO NOT make too much at once; it'll cure before you can use it

Mix a batch of the paints you chose to use.  If you plan to use the color paint straight from the jar, skip this step. 
 
Squirt your silicone into the cup, you want to make sure it's deep enough to cover the entire bulb, but don't make too much at once.  Add a dollop of your paint.  You can choose to thin it out a little bit with the mineral spirits if you wish, though you don't have to.

Mix, mix, mix, until you get a gloopy, evenly colored glob.  It helps to cut the top of the cup off at this point so it's easier to dip your bulbs.  Work fast now, because it will start to cure in as little as 5 minutes (which is why you don't want to make a huge batch of this stuff.

Dip your bulbs in the silicone until it touches the plastic at the top.  If you don't dip it in all the way it'll have a hard time adhering to the bulb and you'll find a lot of it just slips right off.  After the bulb is covered, slowly pull it out to create the nice little tail.  If you've thinned it out, you should have something like above.  It's covered in a very thin layer with a short tail.  If you want a thicker layer with a longer tail, leave the silicone full thickness and pull the bulb out VERY slowly.

 
Take your time with this.  It's not hard to do, but it takes time to learn the best technique to achieve the look you desire.  If you don't like the way it's looking, wipe it off with a rag soaked in mineral spirits before it cures and you can try again, no harm done. 
This is so much fun, and I can see the applications year round!  Can you just imagine the Halloween lights?!  Oh, I'm daydreaming again.
 
Happy Holidays,
Nicole
 


Saturday, December 7, 2013

"Gingerbread" trees

I love doing crafts with my kids, and holiday crafts are no exception.  The problem with Christmas crafts?  They're all so messy and time consuming!  Maybe they're meant to be done while everyone is on Christmas holiday from school and work, but in my house, there still doesn't seem to be enough time. 

Growing up, I always LOVED making gingerbread houses out of graham crackers and royal icing, but even the thought of doing that with my three kids is daunting.  So instead, we're making "gingerbread" Christmas trees:

 
 

These are so much fun, and can be as long or short a project as you'd like.  It's simply a waffle ice cream cone, turned on it's head, frosted with green icing, and decorated with anything you'd like!  Including a zebra, and zebra droppings... My family has a twisted sense of humor, but that's how we like it.

My 5 year old had the patience to fully frost hers and thoroughly decorate, but my 3 year old just globbed some icing on, a few m&m's and started eating.  Oh well.  I wasn't at all disappointed because I hadn't invested hours into the prep the way my mother used to when my sister and I were younger.  (I appreciate it mom, but I just don't have the patience for it myself).

I hope you make some of these, and come up with some GREAT 'ornaments' to put on your tree.  Send me some pictures of your edible holiday creations, I'd love to see them, and even share them here on my blog!

Have a sweet night,
Nicole

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

doodle shoes

So my daughter wanted some shoes that were "not boring," but all we could agree on in the store were glittered or sequined.  While I know they're beautiful and tempting to buy, they're expensive and don't wear well.  Since Quinn is very active, I knew we needed something that would last better. So I took this old, well worn pair of $5 sneakers that she wouldn't wear anymore, and made something she wanted to wear:


Obviously, they aren't perfect.  But I saved them from the landfill and gave them at least a few more months of life.  These are nothing more than freehand doodling with a paint pen.  Because these shoes were canvas, the paint soaked into them well and didn't rub off for anything.  I didn't use any coating on them or anything, though I'd imagine you could use a waterproof canvas coating to give them a really long lifespan. 

[update: She outgrew these shoes before the doodling wore off.  She wore these shoes for months and the doodling only wore off slightly on the toe where she drags her shoe when she walks.]

Happy Doodling,
Nicole

Friday, November 8, 2013

We Made it Official

Yes, Zach and I are officially married.  Well, we had the wedding, anyway; I guess it's not official until our paperwork has gone through, but that shouldn't be too long.

I just wanted to tell you how wonderful it was to have such a small ceremony!  Not to judge those who have the big elaborate events, those I'm sure are great too.  But it was so much fun to be able to really visit with everyone, not just say hi and keep walking.  And because we only had about 20 people, we were able to go all out! 
If you're in Ohio there are a few things I cannot recommend enough: Sortino's Ristorante, and Lauren Tiura Photography!

First: Sortino's.  we had a little trouble with our menu, but considering we had started with two, and from there picked just the one, I won't entirely blame them for this, we did make it a little confusing.  So if you're having a party there, just be sure to confirm, a couple times, in writing.  The thing that they really REALLY have going for them is that they truly cater to your needs.  They took care of us, and I mean they REALLY TOOK CARE OF US!  We had a bartender and a server all night, refilling drinks, clearing plates, silverware, and empties, and bringing rounds of shots.  Basically, if we asked for it, they made it happen!  We were in the basement, which sounds dark and nasty, but it's actually so cool.  They have a little bar set up down their (nothing compared to the full bar upstairs) plus a couple of leather sofas, the "godfather table" which has the godfathers head as a centerpiece (which you can remove), and several other tables for guests.  The whole thing has a sort of Italian graffiti vibe, and you are even given chalk to mark up the walls, ceilings, and painted pipes.  And even though our menu got a little confused, the food was great: Do try the meatballs!

Second: Lauren Tiura Photography Disclaimer: I went to high school with Lauren, but this in no way affects my judgment of her photography skills. Lauren has done some photo's of my kids in the past and I've always been blown away by her ability to capture a moment so clearly that you can physically feel what it was like. 

http://laurentiura.com/
http://laurentiura.com/

Just look at the photo of Quinn and tell me you can't feel it. 

http://laurentiura.com/
http://laurentiura.com/
 
And yet again, talk about perfect.  Ok, ok.... that one is just because I wanted to show off my kids and I'm extremely biased.

http://laurentiura.com/
http://laurentiura.com/
Here is a sneak peak.  This is just a natural shot, certainly not posed, but it was a very important moment in my family.  That necklace my mother is putting on me belonged to my great grandmother and was given to her (I think) in 1938.  Every bride in our family has worn that necklace since.  I'm really looking forward to this weekend when I should be getting some of the photos we took in this adorable little garden next door! 

Anyway.  If you're getting married, talk to Sortino's, even if you do go the 'big event' route, they'd sure have a heck of a rehearsal dinner!  And get Lauren to take your photo's, she won't disappoint - I promise!

Love & Joy,
~Nicole

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Oh, I Didn't Mention It?

So, as much as I love Halloween, it's been put on the back burner this year.  Don't worry, it's for a great reason, that I haven't mentioned:  I'm getting married!  Yep.  It's nothing, just dinner with our immediate family (siblings and parents) and a civil marriage service.  I had no idea that even this extremely simple wedding would be so much work and so much stress!  There have been times I've wanted to ditch the whole thing and walk myself to the courthouse and get it over with!  Oh, and it's EXPENSIVE!  Holy crap is it expensive.  There's absolutely no way we could have ever thrown a full blown wedding.  When you realize that my mom's family alone is 22 aunts and uncles, 40-something cousins, and 20-something cousins kids and that's just ONE of the four very large families we'd be inviting.  Anyway, I'm on a rant.

So, here's the point.  I'm getting married.  I'm getting married, and I'm not throwing a big wedding.  I'm getting married, and I'm not throwing a big wedding, and it's still expensive and time consuming.

~Nicole

Monday, September 30, 2013

Painting Cheap Skulls

 So, we all know I truly love Halloween.  I don't know why, but I really do think about it all year long.  I also am truly cheap.  I hate spending any money on anything!  So, when I spotted some plastic skulls at the dollar store, I picked up two, with no real plan in mind.  Of course they were really cheap looking, solid beige, with no real definition. With a few colors of paint, and some paper towels, I created these:




 Unfortunately, I don't actually have a tutorial, but if there's any interest at all, I'd certainly make one!  In the meantime, I'll describe what I've done here.  I started by blacking out the eye sockets, nose, and jaw area with some black craft paint.  Then I painted the teeth white so they'd have a little bit more contrast (I'm not sure if this step was necessary).  Next I 'aged' the whole thing by applying dark brown craft paint all over the skull and wiping the paint off the raised surfaces with a  paper towel;  this is a very typical patina method.

 At this point, they looked much better and I could have easily stopped there, but I wanted to add some more interest to them:


 I continued to age the skull with some more dark brown and even a little black.  I then used some dark red and black craft paint to make some bloody areas around the eyes and a couple of wound marks.  I used both a wet and dry paper towel to blot them out a bit making them look a little streaked and clotted.  I used some of the blood in the teeth area too which added a great depth to them.



 The last step is to use a very fine brush to make the 'fractures' in the skull with some black craft paint.  Just make some jagged lines that get thinner as they spread out.  I tried to make the skull on the right here look like it'd been smashed with a hammer. and the one on the left like it'd been stabbed with a kitchen knife or maybe chopped with a machete?


 As you can see here, they don't need to be perfect up close, because no one is likely to be studying them this closely.  Use your imagination here, there's so many possibilities!  If you scroll back up to the very first picture you can see there where I used this technique to make the eye socket look a little broken.

Happy Painting,~Nicole

Thursday, September 12, 2013

2 Ingredient, Microwave Fudge

Yes, this delicious fudge is made in the microwave with only two ingredients!

Okay, so I have to give props to my mom for this recipe.  I was visiting a little while back and she made this microwave fudge that was so delicious I just had to ask for the recipe.  And she promptly laughed at me.  That's because the recipe said "heat tub of frosting and bag of morsels in microwave safe bowl."  Yep:

 

Yes, you mix these two ingredients together in a microwave safe bowl, nuke for a minute or so, mix, nuke, mix, continue until smooth.  Then you pour them into a pan to cool.  To make things easier you can grease the pan, or better yet, line it with parchment paper.  Let it cool in the fridge until it's nice and firm (a few hours), then serve it up!

And the absolute best part?  You can pretty much use any flavor tub of frosting and any flavor morsels!

For a traditional fudge flavor use chocolate frosting and milk chocolate morsels.  For a super dark chocolate fudge you can try dark chocolate frosting and dark chocolate morsels.  You can also experiment with white chocolate chips, peanut butter chips, etc.

I'm going to try using Ande's mints instead of morsels!  Or maybe make a vanilla fudge and crumble some Oreo's in there.  Oh, this is dangerous.

Happy Fudge Making,
Nicole