Monday, June 28, 2010

Creative Kiddo..sort of

As some of you may know, if you have read any of my older entries, our oldest son has been diagnosed with Autism. While it was very rough in the beginning, he is improving by leaps and bounds. One of the things we struggle with is routine and remembering what is expected of him.

Last summer, after a consultation with a behavior specialist, we came up with a visual chart made from poster board that had pictures of his morning and evening routine. Each picture had a red colored dot velcroed to it, and when each dot had been removed, he was rewarded with 30 minutes of his favorite movie. As children with Autism are very visual, and crave consistency and routine, this completely changed our lives. We had been doing a visual "schedule" with him since he was 2, but this was teaching him independence, appropriate behavior, and cause/effect.

This chart has seen it's last days. It has been ripped from the refrigerator with a frenzy one too many times. So today's art project was done completely by Caleb, with minor support from me. We talked about making a more permanent chart that he could hang in his room, and it was his responsibility to create it.

First we started with this...which I love, but didn't have any use for anymore.

I spray painted it for Caleb.

He got out his stash of stickers, and came up with this.

I glued the clothespins on (red was chosen as his favorite color), and he designed the stars, cut them out, and came up with the routine he wanted to complete each day. I wrote them in. So in essence, this project is all Caleb. I couldn't be more proud!

Friday, June 25, 2010

Pottery Barn on the cheap!

A few months ago, I saw the cutest set of plates in the Pottery Barn catalog, and as we all know, we have Champagne Pottery Barn dreams on a Generic Beer budget. For inspiration, I saved the picture and began rummaging through the plate sections at our two thrift stores.

I soon found this gem for a whopping $0.25!!!! Love at first sight!!!

Today, the trusty chalkboard paint came out to start this project. A few hours later and it looks really nice. Pardon my handwritting...but the beauty of this is that I can wipe it off and write something witty, you know, when I think of something witty!

Also, I super-love this cute fruit bowl from (YES) Pottery Barn, but super-hate the $38 price tag.

Thank goodness I found this similar bowl (although without a little pedestal) at my local thrift store for $0.50!!! Never underestimate a thrift store!

Monday, June 21, 2010

Toilet paper roll art

Another one of our recycling lessons involved toilet paper rolls and paper towel rolls. I came across this picture on another crafter's blog and thought it was a fantastic idea!
Isn't this beautiful?! Unfortunately, I don't have the kind of wall space for something this size, but I do have a tiny spot in our master bathroom.

So I grabbed 4 toilet paper rolls.....and flattened them out.

Then I marked off each roll and cut them into 1/2 inch increments.

I hot glued the corners together into tail-like shapes, and then glued each tail gether to form a group of four.

I glued them into two rows and then glued the two rows together to make a small scroll pattern.

Instead of painting them a bright color, I decided to spray just a light coat of brown to make it look a little rusted, like iron.

Then I hung it in the bathroom...before....

and after...

Then, I just started playing with what I had left over and made some squares that I painted black. They almost look like iron candle holders...which could be done as well. The possibilities on this are endless.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Audrey is ONE!

My baby cousin, Audrey's, first birthday was celebrated today! She is one precious little girl. Her mother asked me to bake her cake...ladybug themed. The only request? Strawberry cake with cream cheese icing. Now I have never really decorated on cream cheese because I know that the texture is very different from buttercream.

I searched the internet for a crusting butter cream, cream cheese recipe and found a delicious one. I made it an extra day in advance so that if something happened, I had some time to make some changes. It tasted delicious. Once the decorating began, I was very frustrated. Because it is a completely different texture, it doesn't hold well, tends to get glossy and melty-looking, and was generally not covering well. I just kept it in the refrigerator and hoped for the best.

All-in-all, it was a very cute cake. Delicious to eat, might I say. Did I mention that Audrey is precious?? See for yourself!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Thrift store goodies...

Now that my kids are getting a little older and are able to comprehend some more abstract concepts (maybe), I am trying to teach them some basics about finances, responsibilities, and a little about our environment. This seems to be a daunting task in our consumer driven society. It is often difficult for me to reconcile as an adult, so I cannot imagine trying to teach young children this, even though it will soon become second nature to them. Hopefully it can rub off on my techie husband as well. :)

As a child, I was an only child to a stay-at-home mom and a dad who worked for our local chemical company. We had a comfortable life, but were by no means wealthy. My mom was a spender and my dad was a saver. That is just the way it worked in our family. Also, my dad could look at anything and just build it. He can make something beautiful out of completely nothing. My mom is a hire-someone-to-finish-this-project kind of woman, and my dad was a I-can-fix-this-myself kind of man. I think I got the best of both of these traits, but married a if-you-have-it-spend-it kind of man. There is nothing wrong with that. It is merely a personality trait he possesses that at times drives me crazy, and at others makes me blissfully thankful.

Anyway, the last thing I want to do is raise my children to be ungrateful brats who live their lives with their palms up, saying "gimme, gimme, gimme." This recession has been a true wake up call for so many Americans, and especially now being on one income, it is my job to be a conscious consumer. I have to set the example, which means I have to become a better person. This is a daily struggle for me, but anything worth doing takes time. When I take the kids out, we always talk about coupons, prices, discounts, etc. This week, they had some really good lessons.

I took Caleb to Hobby Lobby with me to get some crafting supplies. Each section we went to had percentages off, and I had Caleb do all the math and keep track of our budget. He did great! I got this little vase for $0.50 in the discount and broken section, but didn't like the finish on it.

Would have rather had white to match some dishware I have...presto!

Today we talked about what a thrift/resale store really is and why we shop there. (Side-note: When I was 5, I used to take a shoebox and go treasure hunting in our subdivision. I have always loved thrift stores and garage sales. Maybe I was thrifty before thrifty was cool. But don't expect me to go all granola and start using baking soda as deoderant, throwing out my Blackberry to reduce my carbon footprint, or composting. Congrats to those who do....but I don't.) ANYWAY, we went to one of our local thrift shops and started digging for projects. I found some great things that I can work on and things we could really use. Caleb even found something to spend his money on..surprise!!!

Here is my loot for the day.

Gift bag.........$0.10
Wrapping paper...$0.10
Ceramic bowl.....$0.50
Caleb's game.....$2.00
Glass canisters..$2.00


Canisters before....

Canisters after.....

I am not completely finished with those canisters. I am currently saving to buy a Cricut machine to make vinyl embellishments and want to add monogram to the glass.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Shelving update

Ok, please don't hold the pictures against me. But I cannot find my camera battery to recharge, so I am using my Blackberry to take pictures, and it takes kind of grainy pictures.

Here is what I have come up with to fill the spaces until I can get my craft-on. I HATE to have empty shelves, even if it is when I have a project in progress, so everything put on these was found in other rooms of my house. Not a bad temporary situation there.

PS, I finally found a rug I love...on sale!!!

AND as a bonus, I found these awesome tin tiles that I fell in love with for a grand total of $14.99. Hopefully for Christmas, Santa can bring us an air hockey or foosball table to go in this room as well!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Repurposed Shelving...

Several years ago, my mother purchased two corner shelving units while we were in Canton. She had them made in a country blue with cream tin tile doors on the bottom shelf. They were perfect in her house, until she decided to change up the style a little. Once she moved them out of the living room so that we could paint and put up some vinyl lettering, she no longer wanted them back in the house. Thanks to my mom for offering them to me!

So my dad primed them and added some crown moulding at the top and bottom, and he and I spray painted them Espresso Brown to match my cabinets. Might I say...they are perfect! For the cost of the spray paint and my dad's time, I now have two beautiful additions to my dining area. What do you think?

The debate is still on for whether or not to add the tin doors back on, and if so...should I paint, stain, or leave them natural? I will post pictures of those later for opinions. Oh wait, I have only have two readers...

Now comes the fun of finding things to dress them up. My mind needs to get a little crafty on the frugal. I want to stop off at the Salvation Army Thrift Store in Pearland on our way home from Houston tomorrow, but we will see if we have time.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Summer is in full swing

So it is literally day #3 of Summer break and already Caleb is ready to go back to school. I seriously don't blame him, but I thought we would take the rest of the week off from doing anything and start up our summer routine on Monday. You know, not to overwhelm and overschedule kids when they are on break. Shame on me, because my kids evidently do not function that way. They crave business and routine.

I have been neglecting the housework for the last two weeks because we have just been too busy to do anything about it. So I vowed to spend this morning cleaning and doing laundry while the kids played and watched a movie. The best part was, Pops came by to take them to breakfast at 8, so I had about an hour to clean in uninterrupted musical madness. By 11, I was mostly finished, and the kids were already bored.

My plans for the boys for summer had been MWF-school work in the mornings, outings in the afternoons, Summer Jamboree for Caleb on Tues/Thurs, VBS for a week for Jansen, and Summer reading program in between. All this wasn't supposed to start for about another week...but now, we must move up the school work part.

Caleb, who will be going into 2nd grade in the fall is heavily into math. He wants to measure things, do math problems, etc all the time. So in 2 hours, I have taught the child to multiple single digit numbers using visual cues. He is just so smart, he is sure to pass me up in a few years. I even was able to teach him some precursors to algebra....If x=2, what is 3 + x? and If 4 + x = 9, what is x? We even started If 2x=4, what is x?

Anyway, ramble aside, we have enacted the power of the Summer Fun Jar. Caleb and I took turns writing activities on strips of paper, folded them up, and put them in a jar. When he gets bored, he is to pick a stip of paper from the jar, and we will do whatever is on that strip. Same goes for Jansen. Behold...the Summer Fun Jar (basically a Hard Rock Cafe Hurricane glass). I know, it is awesome...

We already had to dip into it this afternoon after the boys came in from playing outside. The activity for today....Make your own crayons! This turned out to be a great little lesson. We talked about the meaning of recycling, using old things to make new things. Caleb came home with a ton of broken crayons from his school year, so they were the perfect crayons to use. I hate to throw away bits of crayons. We talked about the process of melting old, hard to use pieces into new, easy to use crayons. Unfortunately, I only had heart molds, which prompted me to want some silicone molds in other shapes, but I digress. We talked about doing things the GREEN way, the importance of doing things to help our planet, and power of being creative.

Cost for this project...FREE. Time spent on this project....45 minutes to an hour. And the kids loved it!