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The “Daddy Book”

18 Aug

When Daddy (or Mommy!) is in the military, there will undoubtedly be times when they are away from their little ones. There are a variety of ways that you can help keep the absent parent in your child’s thoughts, and in many cases this can be very comforting to even very young children. One of the things that we use with our toddler is the “Daddy Book”. It’s a relatively sturdy mini-book that he can take everywhere with him, and because they’re so cheaply and easily made, I don’t worry when he finally loves one to death!

First, I use Microsoft Word to design my document. I move margins to “Narrow” and then insert a table. I adjust the table’s cell sizes to 3 x 4 (portrait) and the cell alignment to Middle Center. Then I just use the “Insert Picture” feature to insert pictures of my husband. I can crop the pictures in MS Word if I need to, or I can re-size them (usually to 2.75 x 3.75 or similar). Then, print. You should get two rows and two columns on each page.

You can see that I also printed a cover.

Once that’s done, trim them into rows so that you have two per row.

Then, use a thin layer of rubber cement to affix the rows to other rows. If your printer actually does duplexing without getting them all crooked, you could do it that way, but mine doesn’t!

For the cover, I just wrapped it in clear Contact paper and trimmed around the edges, leaving about 1/8″ from the edge of the paper. Then stack them all together.

Finally, staple. If you have a long-arm stapler (which I don’t!), you could staple them in the middle. Otherwise, you can just do them like I have.

Ta-da! Easy, fast, and a great way to help the kids feel better when Daddy’s away. Gabe asks for his “Daddy Book” before bed, at naptimes, and whenever we get ready to leave the house!

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Back to School!

16 Aug

So we started back to homeschooling in earnest this Monday, and the first days have gone well. The kids are doing well with their new curriculum and working much faster than I anticipated.

As part of our study on ancient Rome, we’ve studied Roman art and architecture, examining many of the frescoes and mosaics from the Etruscan period and the early Roman Empire. We did a simple (but fun!) project that I thought I’d share: paper mini-mosaics!

  1. Cut construction paper or that Astrobrights paper into small squares. We cut ours into 1/2-inch squares.
  2. Cut a backing board to the right size. We used corrugated cardboard because we’ve got an abundance of it!
  3. Have your mini artists sketch a basic design idea. Make sure to tell them that it shouldn’t be anything too complicated.
  4. Starting near the center, apply a thin coat of rubber cement to the cardboard in a small area. They’ll need to work fast to get their “tiles” laid out before the rubber cement dries.
  5. The kids apply the “tiles” in a grid pattern and try to make their design in mosaic.
  6. Keep expanding out from the center slowly, doing a small area at a time.
  7. When it’s all done, let dry and then trim/crop excess backing material.
  8. In our case, because I was just using cardboard, I put a layer of clear Contact paper on the cardboard to seal it and protect it. I also added some 3M strips to the back so they could hang it directly onto the wall in their bedrooms.

Quick Update

14 Aug

Has it really been so long since I’ve blogged? Sheesh! Hopefully you’ll all excuse the interruption in my totally irregular but fabulous blogging, as we’ve been settling in to our new home here in San Antonio!

So first, a few updates:

  1. The move went well. Better than expected, to be honest. The movers were wonderful and the travel & move went off with barely a hitch!

    Empty bedrooms!

  2. Okay, I’m WAYYYY too ambitious! I set this huge goal that I wanted to have the house completely unpacked & totally moved in within a week. Well, I kind of knew that wasn’t going to happen, but I figured if I set a high goal, I’d at least be able to make some serious progress. At this point (almost a complete month since we moved in), the only stuff we still have in boxes is garage & storage stuff (which will stay in boxes until we need them), a single box in the nursery, a single box in the hallway closet, a single box in the living room, a couple boxes in the boys’ bedroom, and a single box in the master bedroom (which will probably stay packed until our next move since it contains the kids’ computer and we don’t have a place to set it up in this tiny apartment).
  3. The kids have been settling in nicely. It’s been wonderful to get to see my husband, even though he STILL doesn’t have overnight privileges (not even weekends!). The constant driving back and forth on the weekends makes that time very taxing, but it’s worth it.
  4. It is HOT here. HOT! Making sure everyone stays hydrated has been a challenge; I’ve noticed my blood pressure dropping from dehydration a time or two, and the toddler threw up shortly after we got here from the heat. Hydration management has become a huge priority. We keep ice in the freezer, a water jug in the fridge, and a pitcher of Gatorade in the fridge pretty much all the time. We’ve also got all of the boys their own water bottles which are now required equipment any time we leave the house!
  5. The weather here is unusual and interesting, to say the least! Last Friday there was this strange freak windstorm that blew trees down all over the place. Saturday as I was walking from my apartment office back to my apartment carrying a package we received, I tripped over one of those downed tree branches and had to call my husband on my cell phone to come and rescue me! I thought I had just tweaked my leg a bit, but now it’s a few days later and it’s still severely swollen and painful and I can’t put much weight on it. I’m going to have to see the doctor about it, much to my chagrin (I really don’t much like doctors!).
  6. My c-section has been giving me problems, just like it did with my last baby. I have an appointment with my doctor tomorrow to look at it, so hopefully I’ll get some answers soon.

Next, a few of Holly’s handy dandy tips for apartment living:

  • COMMAND HOOKS! I have these little things all over the house! I use the large hooks for heavier things like heavy picture frames or decorations. The mini hooks are great for things like hanging your keys and hanging lightweight or small items (or decorating!). The medium plastic hooks are what I use to hang up things like aprons, potholders, and brooms in the kitchen. But my favorite kind (that I only discovered this move!) are the small wire hooks. I have these on my kitchen wall and use them to hold all sorts of cooking and serving utensils. It helps to free up valuable drawer space because I don’t have much of it! The advantage to the Command Hooks (and there are also Command picture hangers as well, but I can’t say much about them because I haven’t used them) is that you don’t have to worry about filling in holes when you move out, and you can stick them anywhere – even on cabinet doors and other places that conventional nails might not be appropriate.
  • Storage is always going to be a problem in a small space, and that’s no different when you have a family as large as mine! Few apartments have sufficient storage space, and I like to keep a rather substantial pantry whenever possible. Organizing my pantry spaces is a huge project that I’ll be working on later, so stay tuned to see how I handle that one.
  • Large area rugs are a great way to protect apartment floors. I’ll never for the life of me understand why stupid builders put WHITE or OFF-WHITE carpet wall to wall in three or four bedroom apartments and houses. Most people in 3/4BR rental places have kids, I would think, and any mom knows that white or off-white carpet is about the dumbest thing you can do. Seriously, I hate rental places that do it, but they ALL do it!
  • Take inventory of the new home as soon as you arrive, and when you have children, look for things the kids can (and will!) break, damage, stain, or otherwise mess up. Have them removed. Call the apartment complex and tell them to take them out, or put them into a basement or garage for storage. Take down mini-blinds and put up curtains or something else. The cheap metal mini-blinds in most rental places are absolutely ridiculous; you can bend them just by brushing up against them the wrong way and they cost HUNDREDS of dollars to replace. Look for other things that may be problematic: sliding closet doors (tend to come out of the track if there’s no bottom track), accordion doors (depending on location, they can get easily damaged if you bump into them forgetting that they’re open), and those vertical blinds on a lot of patio doors.

I’m still getting settled in, so I’m not exactly sure when my next post will be, but I’ll try to blog a bit more consistently now that we’re finally moved.

News (July 6th Edition)

5 Jul

Okay, so I don’t blog nearly as regularly as I’d like to. That’s just kind of what happens when you have a family like mine. But I may as well give my dear readers an update on what’s been happening lately in our family:

Little Ian!

I hope my readers can forgive the long break I took about a month ago, but Little Ian was born on June 6th at … I don’t really remember – sometime in the afternoon. In my defense, I was really, REALLY high at the time.

I do remember that he was nine pounds and one ounce. He’s not my biggest one – that distinction goes to Johnny (my VBAC and my ONLY vaginal birth!) who tipped the scales at 9’4″. I remember that they showed him to me in the operating room. Having been used to a hefty two-year-old, the first thing I said was, “He’s so tiny!” The nurse laughed and said, “No, he isn’t!”

I had a scheduled repeat c-section. I have to say that my c-section was GREAT! The anesthesiologist was GREAT! All in all, it was a great experience (for a c-section), even if my husband couldn’t be here for it.

He was very upset that he couldn’t be here for the birth or soon after it, but we’re focusing on moving toward the next adventure very soon.

And speaking of moving…

The Move!

I can’t even express how positively ecstatic I am about the upcoming move! I get to be in the same city as my husband again!!!

The movers will be coming in only 10 days! And we’ll be moving to my husband’s AIT location just a few days later. I’m hoping that the house we applied for will work out and we’ll have housing already lined up by the time we get there. It’s going to be crazy!

But I’m going to take LOTS of pictures, and once I get settled in (and get the computer up and running!), I’ll do a few blog posts on how to maintain your sanity during a move (once I dig my sanity out of whatever box the movers put it in!). So once again, I’ll be off-line for a little while, but I’ll be back soon!

Here’s What I’ve Got in Mind…

Hopefully with the upcoming move, I’ll have LOTS of great stuff to write about! But just to give you all a preview of what’s on the horizon here at TQPH (with the understanding, of course, that I’ll probably get less than half of this actually accomplished), here’s a list of a few projects I’ve got coming up:

  • I have a round dining room tabletop that I want to convert to a chabu-dai table (a low Japanese tea table). I want to get that done before I move.
  • I want to make some zabuton pillows – meditation cushions – for the living room. I’d like to get that done before I move, but I seriously doubt that will happen because I’ll either have to borrow my mother-in-law’s serger or get mine serviced before I can undertake a big project like that.
  • I have this great idea for a couple of paint chip wall art pieces. I’m still tossing around ideas, but I’m planning on something Asian-inspired.
  • I have a few really nice boards in my garage that I want to get cut to size, primed, and painted white before we move so that I can use them as wall shelves with the right brackets.
  • And of course, I’ll be sure to catalog the moving process to share my experiences with my readers.

The Blog

I hope that it’s become clear by now to my readers (both of you!) that I don’t usually do newsy updates. Most of my blog posts are some crafty thing or some homemaking tips or something. Personally, I don’t like blogs that do a bunch of “filler”. I mean, I understand that you’ve got to do some “housekeeping” on a blog. Occasionally you want to do giveaways or something like that, but if I’m watching a blog for homemaking tips, I’m not really thrilled when they spend three days a week doing “Wordless Wednesday” or whatever. And maybe it’s just because I’m cynical and I know exactly what they’re doing when they do that. (For those of you who aren’t bloggers, search engine rankings are largely based on how frequently the blog/website updates. Since almost everybody will run out of material to make a relevant post 5-7 days a week, many professional bloggers will do some sort of “Wordless Wednesday” or “Inspiration for the Weekend” or whatever. It’s a short, totally irrelevant post intended to make it look like the blog is updated frequently.)

Anyway…

I don’t always get my blog updated regularly, mainly because I’m lazy. I could say I’m busy, but I may as well be honest. And I don’t think that most of what I do is really that interesting. After all, do you really want me to write about my two-year-old getting into the markers? You do? Well… They say a picture is worth a thousand words:

Okay, so back to the point: If you want to be updated when I have some new stuff up, please subscribe to my blog. That way you don’t have to keep coming back to obsessively stalk me because you’re craving some new craft projects or cleaning recipes or moving tips; the blog will just send you an innocent little e-mail and let you know that it’s time to come check out something cool! And there’s an added advantage to me: While I can see how many people are visiting my blog, I can’t tell how many of those are robots or some sort of Underworld Internet trolls stumbling across my blog while surfing for porn (you’d be surprised how often seemingly innocent blogs are listed on some sort of weird search page next to porn; it’s weird). Anyway, if you subscribe, then I’ll know that at least SOMEBODY wants me to keep typing!

So now, I’m done. No more boring news (for awhile!). Thanks!

Care Packages

22 Apr

Care packages are absolutely INVALUABLE for your Soldier! They may be restricted in some cases, so be aware of the rules and restrictions. Here’s a few general guidelines:

  • If your Soldier is in basic training or AIT, ask before you send care packages. ESPECIALLY in BCT, some Drill Sergeants don’t allow care packages. If you DO get to send care packages in BCT, do NOT send food items. Check with your recruiter, the BCT location, and/or the U.S. Army Future Soldier Family Program for updated lists of BCT care package items. General rule of thumb for BCT care packages: Don’t send anything unless he requests it. The only exception to this is cards, letters, drawings from the kids, etc.
  • Get the kids involved! Kids frequently enjoy helping out in the kitchen, and regular care packages will always require some level of “quality control”!
  • Care packages are a big deal. In BCT, he’ll be opening care packages in front of his Drill Sergeant. After BCT, it’s not uncommon for his buddies to crowd around him to see what he got. With that in mind, watch what you send. If you send naked pictures to him in BCT, the Drill Sergeant will confiscate him, smoke him, and generally make his life hell. If you send them to him while he’s deployed to a Muslim country, the entire care package may be destroyed. And if you send them at any other time, don’t be surprised if you get some funny looks from his buddies when they all get home.
  • As a general rule, don’t send tobacco or alcohol. If he’s authorized to have it, he’ll be able to purchase it locally. It’s forbidden in BCT and in most AIT’s, and it’s forbidden in Muslim countries. Also forbidden in Muslim countries: pork or pork products. No bacon muffins, and if you’re sending store-bought items, check the labels carefully. Sometimes pork fat can turn up in the most unexpected places! I once bought some banana chips to send to Saudi Arabia and found pork fat included on the ingredients list!
  • Don’t make a mess! Somebody always thinks it’s cute or funny to send a care package designed to explode confetti everywhere when it’s opened. It’s not. Your husband might laugh about it at first, but when he’s starting his second hour of looking for confetti that landed somewhere underneath his wall locker, he’ll be cussing.
  • Keep in mind that he may have limited space. Food items, baked goods, candy, etc. – all of these things are consumable, so you don’t have to worry too terribly much about overloading him with that stuff. But books, games, etc. – keep in mind that his space may be limited, ESPECIALLY if he’s on board a ship or in BCT/AIT.
  • Care packages are made for sharing. Always try to send enough so that he can share with his buddies (if it’s food items).
  • Don’t send stuff he can buy there. My hubby’s in AIT, and as much as he loves Fig Newtons, he can buy them at the PX. There’s no need for me to send them. On the other hand, when my ex-husband was deployed to Saudi Arabia, he would ask for those banana chips because he couldn’t get them in theater. Girl Scout cookies are often a big hit, but lots of guys in deployed locations have access to them (the Girl Scouts donate a large number of them through the USO every year), so ask before sending them.

Regularity
There is one BIG note about care packages that applies to ALL communication with your Soldier: BE REGULAR!!! Decide in advance how frequently you can send things and STICK TO IT! Our Soldiers are creatures of habit. They grow to expect the things we send and get very disappointed if we don’t send them on schedule. Now sometimes, things come up. One of the first care packages I was planning got delayed because everyone in the house came down with a stomach bug and I didn’t want to send vomiting and diarrhea to my hubby! But I also notified him of the circumstances. That way, he knew I didn’t just forget.

For me, when my husband was in BCT (and I didn’t send care packages unless he specifically requested something), I wrote letters EVERY DAY and sent them every day. I missed one or two days, but I worked very hard to get those letters out daily. The kids wrote and sent letters once a week, and after about the third week I started sending one of two greeting cards randomly throughout the week. The letters from me & the kids were a part of his routine and the greeting cards (and letters from his parents & extended family) were fun bonuses. But he told me once that he looked forward to every evening after mail call when he would settle in and read my letter before bed. It was part of his evening routine, and it was something he came to expect. On those occasions when the mail was screwy and he didn’t get a letter like he was supposed to, he would re-read old letters, but he was always disappointed.

Regularity is critical with care packages as well. I prepare my packages on Sunday and send them out on Monday morning. Because they go out Priority Mail, he normally receives them on Wednesday or Thursday. It’s something that he looks for and expects. Decide in advance what your schedule will be and stick to it.

What to Send
Obviously, some things are pretty much expected in care packages, like foodstuffs (especially homemade stuff!). Other things he may request, like a certain video game or book or magazine. Other things (like letters, cards, drawing from the kids, etc.) can be added to give him a taste of home. Keep in mind what he has access to. My husband has a laptop, so I’ll frequently burn a DVD for him of home movies and pictures we’ve taken since he left. You may want to keep a video diary and burn it to DVD and send it with your care packages.

One note about videos: Our Soldiers love seeing videos of important and special events, so make sure to videotape the birthday party, the trip to the zoo, the school play, the soccer game, etc. But they also like seeing a “slice of life” from home. It may sound silly, but try setting up the video camera during dinnertime. Set the camera in Daddy’s spot and videotape the family having dinner together. Set up the camera in the kitchen and “talk” to your husband while you’re doing dishes. Don’t neglect the “boring” stuff; a lot of times, that “boring” stuff is the stuff that they miss the most.

Condiments can be greatly appreciated depending on where he is, especially if he enjoys something more exotic than salt and pepper! Dried condiments (like garlic powder, onion powder, chili powder, dried seasoning mixes, etc.) can be packaged into small plastic zipper bags – you can usually find these at craft stores with the cake/candy decorating stuff. If he’s deployed someplace where the food is terrible, having little baggies of his favorite seasoning blends can be VERY welcome.

Liquid condiments are a bit more difficult. If he likes something like soy sauce, look at places like Costco, Sam’s Club, and local Asian grocers or restaurant supply stores to see if they have any single-serve packets. But there IS another method you can use for liquid condiments; it’s a bit dicey, but it is often effective for things like Srirachi that my husband loves. You fill ice cube trays with the condiments and freeze them solid. Once they’re frozen, use a vacuum sealer (like a Food Saver) to seal one or two ice cubes together completely. Let thaw before you ship, but that will USUALLY (not always!) keep the condiments for a pretty long time.

When it comes to baked goods, keep a few things in mind:

  • If you’re sending to a very hot location, don’t use butter of margarine. Use something like butter-flavored shortening because it won’t go rancid as quickly. Also, beware of peanut butter, nut butters, and other foods with a high oil content because of the rancidity.
  • Don’t even try sending fudge to a hot place or to any place overseas. Any type of fudge-y candies will not work. Hard candies can work if it’s not too hot and/or has too long of a delay.
  • Anything crumbly can crumble. Plan accordingly. Anything chewy is going to be likely to go bad if you’ll have to wait too long for delivery. Cookies will usually last longer than bar cookies, muffins, breads, etc. Don’t ship that unless you know you’ll be getting pretty quick delivery.
  • Everything MUST COOL COMPLETELY before you try to package it.
  • Don’t send stuff that’s frosted. If you want to send something with frosting, send it unfrosted and then send an unopened package of frosting along with it so that he can frost it when he gets it.
  • Small sizes will work best. Think mini-muffins instead of full-size muffins, mini-loaves of bread instead of standard sizes, etc. Small sizes are easier to pack and easier to share!

Packaging
Packaging is critically important! Nothing will break your heart faster than your husband calling you on the verge of tears because all of the brownies you sent him arrived in crumbs!

The most important thing to remember with packaging is to package in small batches and do NOT hesitate to overpackage! If you package in small batches and one batch is destroyed, it’s likely that the other batches will be okay.

For Muffins, Breads, etc.
I sent my husband some cinnamon streusel muffins (his favorite!). Here’s how I packaged them.

First, I let them cool COMPLETELY!

Then, as you can see, I laid out wax paper and foil. I placed each individual muffin upside down on the wax paper.

Wrap it up like a present:

Then you do the same basic wrapping with the foil. Place LOOSELY in a Ziploc bag and pack. The foil helps to keep them from being crushed and the wax paper helps keep them from sticking to the foil.

 

For Bar Cookies, Soft Candies, and Crumbly Cookies
Wrap in wax paper and package in hard containers, like Ziploc Take & Toss. Make sure the wax paper goes between EACH AND EVERY cookie or candy (for the soft ones)!!! It’s not as big of a deal on crumbly cookies, but make sure that there’s enough wax paper to reduce movement with the crumbly cookies.

 

For Hard Candies
Individually wrap and package in a Ziploc bag. Individual wrappers can usually be found in craft stores with the cake decorating supplies.

For Regular Cookies
Run a length of wax paper. Put the first cookie on one side of the wax paper about 2-3 inches from the end and fold the wax paper in half over the cookie. Fold up the end and place another cookie on top of the package. Fold the long end of the wax paper over the top of the cookie, then place another cookie on top of the package. Fold the long end of the wax paper over, placing another cookie on top, until you have about 5-6 cookies. Fold the excess of the long end over the top of the last cookie. Place the wax paper packet face down on some foil and wrap like a present. Place two or three packets LOOSELY into a Ziploc bag.


How to Send
It really depends a lot on where your Soldier is. Check with your local FRG, your Key Spouse, your unit, etc. For example, on some Air Force bases, they send out “Re-Deployers” once a week or once every few weeks to deployed locations, and they’re usually happy to stick your care package on the plane when it goes out (and it’s free!). In a lot of places, you have no choice but to send it through freight.

Make friends with the U.S. Postal Service! They will delivery more regularly and more efficiently to virtually every military location than UPS, FedEx, or DHL. They also offer a variety of shipping discounts if you pay for your shipping online, especially if you pay through your PayPal account. Their USPS Priority Mail Flat Rate Boxes are also a great bargain because you don’t have to pay for the box, and it’s usually cheaper than shipping a box of a similar size.

Asian-Inspired Wall Panel

28 Mar

Geez, what exactly am I supposed to call these things? I feel like I’m naming a recipe here (and I’ve NEVER been good at that! Most of my recipes come out being called something like, “that meat and noodle thing with the sour cream and lemon pepper” or something weird, so my poor kids & husband never know what to say when they want to request that I make something again. Not that it would matter, because I can’t ever REMEMBER my recipes in the first place. And there I go, digressing again…)! Okay, so the point is, I’ve got no idea what to call these little projects.

But on this one, I got an idea that’s just kind of evolved. Let’s not worry about WHERE I got the idea; I couldn’t tell you. It’s changed so much from its original design that I have no clue where it came from.

Oh, wait – yes I do! I saw an idea to make snowflakes and glue them to a contrasting color.

So that’s the first thing I did. I decided I was going to do a little display thing of 4″ x 4″ papers. While I have no clue whatsoever what our living room is going to look like, I already know that I plan on keeping the decorating scheme very Zen (as much as possible). I’m thinking lots of neutrals: tan, cream, white, and that pale green that Chris likes so much. For those little “pops” of color, I’m thinking red (in EXTREME moderation!), black, and white. And because black & white furniture can be used, re-used, re-purposed, moved to different rooms, etc., depending on what our setup looks like.

So I chose pale green and white for the 4 x 4″ pieces. Using my rotary cutter, acrylic ruler, and cutting mat, I found some pale green and white printer paper from the kids’ craft box. (I really need to get my own craft supplies instead of raiding theirs all the time!) I cut numerous squares to that 4 x 4″ size. Then I grabbed several of them and started folding them like snowflakes and cutting on them like we used to do in school every winter to decorate the classroom with snowflakes. When they were done, I took my best ones and used a glue stick (from the kids’ craft box) to glue the snowflakes to the contrasting color. Then the snowflakes were DONE!

Next, I wanted to add a bit more of an Asian (specifically a Japanese) flair to the project, so I started working on the two botanical panels. For one, I wanted to specifically do blades of grass or reeds, so I just cut a bunch of funny looking stems. It was all just freehand and me playing around. Then I just kind of arranged the little stems (glue stick!) onto the background until I thought it looked right. On the second botanical one, I did the same stem thingy and also added a few leaves. I trimmed up the edges with my rotary cutter.

Finally, I wanted to finish it off, so I went looking online for some Japanese Kanji characters. I printed out the ones for “Harmony”, “Family”, and “Serenity”, and then cut them into 4 x 4 squares with my rotary cutter.

I felt like it looked good but needed a splash of color, so I dug some red printer paper out of the kids’ art box and cut it into 4 1/2″ x 4 1/2″ squares, then glue sticked the little 4 x 4’s onto it. Here’s the result:

That’s a lawn & garden trash bag underneath them because I wanted to see how they would look with a dark background. And there’s a large piece of glass over them because they were already starting to curl up because of the glue stick, but I thought they went fairly well together.

I pressed them in my phone book overnight. It’s kind of lucky, because I normally recycle my phone book within days of getting it but I just hadn’t gotten around to it because we just got back from Chris’s BCT graduation when I found the new phone book on my porch, so I’m glad I had it for the panels!

And then today held a trip to Michael’s!

The first thing I thought as I looked at these panels was that they weren’t really even, and there was too much red. So I took my rotary cutter and acrylic ruler and cutting mat and trimmed them up to leave about 1/8″ of red background on each side.

Then, I turned to my foam board. I opted for a foam board for a few reasons: 1) It’s CHEAP! 2) It’s lightweight, so it’ll be easy to hang ANYWHERE. Okay, for two reasons.

But I needed to trim it, so I just used my rotary cutter to trim it to size.

Then I had to mark where the panels were supposed to go. In this case, I wanted them 3/4″ apart with 1 1/2″ as an outside border. So I marked the lines with pencil where I knew they’d be covered up by pictures

and assembled my supplies: Mod Podge Matte (for paper), my foam panel, a paper plate, a large sponge brush, and my panels.

Then, I laid out all my panels just to check the fit:

Next, I used my Mod Podge to glue down my pictures and then put a coat of Mod Podge over the top of all of them.

You can see in this picture that some of them (like the green Kanji in the top row) have curled up, especially along the edges. I could probably prevent that from happening by doing more coats that are thinner, but patience isn’t my strong suit, and I know from previous experience that it’ll all lay pretty flat once it’s completely dry.

The reason it curls up like that is because it’s wet, and I added a final top coat of Mod Podge to it, which REALLY didn’t help with the curling problem, but oh well. It’ll look fine when it’s dry. For now, here’s what it looks like:

See how much better it looks when it dries?

It’s still not TOTALLY dry; you can still feel a little moisture, so there’s still a few little wrinkles on the paper parts, but it’s close enough that I can start working with it.

But it’s not really DONE. It looks unfinished.

So I found this:

I’m guessing that Washi tape would work, too, but I haven’t been able to find it locally. Instead, I ran across this. It’s wallpaper trim tape, but the color looked great, so I picked it up. It’s got these little grids on the back, which makes it a snap to measure out.

Then I peeled back half of it, as you can see here:

Then I put the board over the sticky side and lined it up like this:

I pressed the board down HARD on the tape to make sure it stuck to the back. Then I peeled the rest of the backing off:

And then folded the tape around:

Made sure to press out the air bubbles (with the remnants of my manicure that I got JUST for my hubby’s graduation!):

And voila!

Okay, so the lighting sucks, and you can still see the wrinkles in the front until it dries all the way. I’m going to stick this under some heavy books and press it the rest of the way probably for another day or so, and then it’ll probably look great, but at least you can kind of see what it’s going to look like now.

Hey, I’m a crafter, NOT a photographer! My photography skills suck! But at least you can kind of sort of figure out what I did and how I did it, so you’ll just have to deal with sub-standard photography! 🙂

Okay, so that one really sucks. I’ll add some nicer pictures with better lighting once it’s FULLY dry (in about a day or so), so check back on this post in a day or so and I’ll edit it to show the final product prettier!

A little better? I can’t leave it like that. I’ll leave it like this, but with a promise to update it soon!

Song Pictures

28 Mar

NOTE: Please forgive me, as this is my first blog post here at Blogger, and I’m a little confused! So the formatting may be funky and it might be a little weird, but please bear with me as I’m learning this stuff! 🙂

I got inspired for this somewhere searching Pinterest and looking at … well, I don’t remember exactly what it was I was looking at. And I was listening to my Patriotic Playlist on Vevo and really missing my husband. Maybe it was the playlist. Anyways, that’s not really relevant…

So the idea was to put pictures of my husband with my favorite song lyrics.

That part was pretty easy, and I don’t have a tutorial of it because it was all computer generated.

First, I found the lyrics to a few songs I really liked. Then I opened up MS Word and built a 1 x 1 table and set the size of that table to 5 x 7, since that’s the size I wanted for my pictures. Next, I found a good background image that I liked that looked like parchment. (Then today I found out that my mother-in-law has a huge stack of parchment which would’ve been much easier, but I digress…) I put that picture in and placed it “behind text” just behind the table.

Then, I put the song lyrics in. I used Chopin Script and adjusted the size to make it fit the way I wanted it to.

Next, I added the pictures I wanted. Since they were mostly color shots, I had to play with the coloring & formatting a little bit. I used a rounded rectangle for the shape and then did “Soft Edges” in 5pt or 10pt (depending on what looked right). Then I went to “Recolor” and changed the color to Sepia, and then adjusted the brightness & contrast a little bit to give it a consistent look so that all the pictures looked to have similar lighting.

Finally, PRINT! (I just used regular computer paper.)

Then I used a rotary cutter, cutting mat, & ruler for most of the rest of this (because it’s what I had). I trimmed the printed pages to 5 x 7″. I found some old black construction paper in the kids’ art box (and used the last three sheets!) and trimmed that to 8 x 10″. Then I used a glue stick (also found in the kids’ art box; I used the last one so I had to re-stock them today!) to put the pages on and mat them. I used my clear acrylic ruler to place them evenly.

Here’s the result:

Now you may notice that those ARE in frames, and the frames don’t look half bad. At least, not in these pictures. Because up close, those frames are actually silver (not brass, like it looks like in the picture), and they really don’t work. But I needed the frames, because after I used the glue stick, the sheets were curling up on the sides, so I just stuck all three of the pictures into the same frame and used the frame to press the pictures flat overnight.
Then today I hit Dollar Tree (the “Everything’s $1.00″ store) and found some $1 8 x 10” frames. They were pretty ugly, but they’d do for what I had in mind.
Sorry I didn’t get a “before” picture on the frames; here’s the “after”:

Yep, that’s a can of Krylon spraypaint right there. I put a lawn & garden trash bag in my garage floor and spray-painted the frames. Then I let them dry, put my pages into my frames, and…

Voila!
Personally, I like the matte frames with that kind of light tan finish. I forgot what the color is called, but I love the way it goes with the pictures!

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