Thursday, June 21, 2012

My Patriotic Mantle is finally coming together!

And here is my star combined with  my America (2 x 4) block and my letter blocks (4 x 4). This is one part of my patriotic mantle, the rest is yet to come, soon.

I Love Stars!

I really wanted a large 3-d star to set on my mantle. All of the tin stars were too small or too large or too pricey. All of the paper mache stars were too small. Hmmm. I could make my own, right?  That's the best way to get one just the size I want, for the price (practically free) I want... Soooo, I gathered up some empty cereal boxes, glue, masking tape, scissors, and made a star. Well, first I made a pattern. I used this tutorial: . It wasn't exactly the easiest method, but I made it work. I enlarged the pattern, so my finished star would be about 16" point-to-point. The pattern needs to be a little bit larger than the desired finished size, because it adjusts a bit when the points are pushed up/out to make it 3-d.

Anyway, using my new pattern, I cut 5 points from my cereal boxes, folding along the fold lines and gluing where indicated in the instructions, turning the printed side to the inside. I used strips of masking tape to hold them in place while the glue dried. I also used it to reinforce the joints and seams after the glue was dry. I planned to cover the star anyway, so the tape was not going to show. When the glue had dried, I covered the outside with a layer of vinyl spackling. An easy shortcut here, is to mix some regular acrylic craft paint into the spackling before it is applied. This cuts out the painting step. After the star dried, I antiqued it with a dark brown glaze and wiped off the excess. A coat of sealer and it was done. I just wrapped a strip of patriotic fabric tied a bow, but I am already planning to replace it with different ribbon and embellishments for other seasons, so I can use it year-round.

Cardboard form.
Honestly, it would be a lot easier to buy one ready-made. Since I couldn't find what I wanted, this is a great solution, but it was a little more work than I would normally do for a simple cardboard doodad.
The other upside is that is didn't cost anything, because I already had all the supplies on hand...overall, it's a winner!

Covered with spackling.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

One more patriotic banner!

I like to dress up my fireplace with banners for holidays, but I didn't have one for July 4th. I got busy with my papers and vintage postcard prints and came up with this. I layered card stock with background paper, my prints, and then added assorted embellishments. I used some similar elements on each panel to unify the arrangement, but each one is different. The chipboard flourishes are covered with variegated metal leaf for a little shine and interest.

I have my own collection of vintage postcards but some great sources for free are: 

Some sites that have great images for a reasonable price are:  

Most of these sites also have great ideas for using these images, too. Take a few minutes and browse...

Here are close-ups of each panel (left click to enlarge):


Thursday, June 14, 2012

Let Freedom Ring!

I love to see our flag and I love to show my love for our country, so I gathered ideas from several sources and put together this wreath for our front door. I usually opt for oval shaped wreaths rather than a traditional round one--so this is not a distorted photo, the wreath really is longer than it is wide! It's about 26" long by 16" wide. The flag has been aged and is actually a bit darker than the picture reflects. I used burlap ribbon to wrap around the wreath and make a bow. I added an aged version of the Declaration of Independence printed on old yellowed rice paper, a red berry wreath, and a tin star. Final touches were to arrange the flag so it drapes and add the little canvas banner under the bow. I sprayed it all with several coats of outdoor clear varnish to help protect it from the elements. Happy Flag Day and Independence Day!
Whole door view.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Patriotic 2 x 4 Fun

    I'm thinking ahead to the upcoming Fourth of July Festivities and I realized that I need a few more accents for my mantle. I'm starting with this. It was quick and fun to throw together with my stash of wood, fabric and odds 'n ends! Start with a 2 x 4 and some paint, a little sandpaper, and a torn homespun fabric bow. Finish with some cinnamon sticks, leaves, berries and rusty stars. How simple is that? It's about 7" square, so it's a nice filler for the mantle layout I'm working on. I started with an idea from here: (thanks Kierste). I wanted mine a little more even to fit together better, so I trimmed the blocks I used for the star and glued the pieces I cut off between the two blue blocks. Now it is closer to even and square and the same thickness top to bottom. The blocks don't shift at all when  moving and the fabric covers the seam and filler between the blue blocks, so it looks like one big block. I like it. If a more primitive look is your thing, go with the brown paper packages model!

Monday, June 4, 2012

Cinnamon Roll Waffles? Yummmm.

So I came across this amazing concept--making cinnamon rolls in a Belgian Waffler...hmmm. I have a Belgian Waffler in my cupboard that I use somewhat often, but only to make waffles. This really sounded like fun; waffles made from cinnamon rolls. Not to mention, it sounds tasty! Everyone in my family loves cinnamon rolls, but I don't make them that often. A perfect family night, game night, or movie night treat, I was thinking.

So in the name of pure (kitchen) science, I decided to try this out and see if it really was as easy and awesome as "rumor" has it. Well, guess what? IT IS!

So how do you do it? Easy peasy. Grab a tube (or three) of canned cinnamon rolls. Since I am a "from scratch" cook, I had to wait and buy these; I didn't have them just hanging in the fridge. I bought the Kroger brand of cinnamon rolls with cream cheese frosting. They have them with regular frosting, too, if you're not a cream cheese fan. If you're a "name brand only shopper," they will work too.

1) Heat up your Belgian waffle maker.

2) Open your tube of cinnamon rolls and separate four of them.

3) Place one roll in each section of the waffle iron and close it up.

4) When the waffle iron's "done" light comes on, open it up and lift them out.

5) Lay them out on a tray and drizzle with the frosting. If you like the frosting to melt and fill up the "cups" in the waffles, do this while they are still warm (not hot--it will melt right off if you put it on them right off the iron). If you like the drizzled look, wait for them to cool before you drizzle the frosting over the top. I did some of each type, you should be able to see the difference in the picture.

6) Enjoy!

I whipped up three cans for our family. It took me about 30 minutes, start to finish. If your family is smaller, you won't need as many and you can be done quicker. We really liked the extra crispness of the cinnamon rolls baked in the waffler. (Well all but one of us loved the crispiness. One preferred the softness of regular cinnamon rolls. No problem--more for the rest of us!) The house smelled wonderful and you don't have to heat the house up with the oven or waste all that extra electricity. Win-win-win.

Thanks to Henrietta at "A Hen's Nest" for this great idea.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Good fences make good neighbors....

     As far as cows go, I'm not really too interested (aside from the occasional steak, that is). I don't have cow decor in my home or car. I don't moo at cows when I drive past. And here in Texas, I drive past a lot of cattle!
They are just there. They generally aren't too bright or fun to watch. They are just there.
     However, last night as I was dropping my kids off at an "End of the School Year" swim party at a friend's ranch, I noticed this prime specimen in their pasture. What a great looking beast! He stood there by the fence and placidly observed as I stopped and snapped his photo. He even turned to look at me so I could get a nice face shot. He was proud and handsome--and why not? Just look at those horns! I've seen a lot of Texas longhorns since we've lived in Texas, but I think this guy has an award winning rack, even amongst his bovine peers! They are at least six feet across tip-to-tip! And look at that hide, too. This guy is definitely a contender for the cattle equivalent of a Mr. Universe contest.
     But, I was really glad there was a barbed wire fence between us, just in case he decided I was annoying him.