28 April 2011

Here is the thing: Usually, I am not big on party favors.

Usually, I said.

As a guest, I never know what to do with them. Do you leave them on the table? What do you do with the packaging? Is it rude to stuff it under your chair? Is it rude to leave it behind if it doesn't fit in my purse? Is it rude to leave it behind because I don't want to stuff a wet wine glass in my purse?

These are the things that keep me up at night. Can you tell?

As a host, I just don’t like a lot of crap on the table. Show me sturdy plates, solid cups and a spill-proof table cloth, and I’ll show you a good time. Show me cut crystal and tulle pom-poms, and I’ll show you a table full of uncomfortable guests who are wondering, Where the hell am I supposed to put this napkin ring?

Don’t get me wrong, a little foof can lend a lot of atmosphere, but if something takes up space on my table the table, I want it to be edible or disposable. I don’t want my guests to feel bad because they spill wine, or lose a napkin, or nudge a votive candle in the wrong direction and set the whole table on fire.

I speak from experience on that one. Don't I, JOANNA?

None the less, sometimes it’s nice to leave a little something for your guests. It makes them feel special and appreciated. It also looks wicked cute on the plate! Just be sure they know it isn’t precious and for all you care, sit on it. Or for that matter, set it on fire. Right, JOANNA?

Enter: Painted Party Favors

This is another project born from the Box O’Fun, courtesy of Heather at Dollar Store Crafts and their April Stash busting project.

PS: Anyone interested in helping me unload my own stash, click here.

This project started with a pack of baby shower boxes from the dollar store. I have passed these at the dollar store and the party favor section a billion times and never picked them up. Until now!

Then I painted them and slapped on a little tissue. Nothing fancy. Just smoosh on some paint.

 After it dries, trim off the inner foldy bits. Technical term, foldy bits, that is.

Then punch some holes, stuff it and fold it up. Donzo!

And look! You can thread a feather through the holes and give them cute little hats.

Don't your party favors deserve feathers in their cap?

A friend suggested they would also make excellent packaging for jewelry and baubles and such --good thinking. I'll bet there are a lot of nifty things to be done with these little boxes. Ideas anyone? Chime in! I want to revisit these bad boys sometime soon.

27 April 2011

Dear Tulips

Dear Tulips, You look very sad when you bend over like that. It's a shame your heads have to fall off.
One time I found a napkin on the subway that read "I wish I were singing right now."

Sounds silly, perhaps, but since then, when I see people on the subway, I wonder, "Which one of you is singing on the inside?"

I love stuff like that.

Ever since that napkin, I have taken up the habit of leaving little notes of my own. On the subway, in the park, at the grocery store...wherever it seems appropriate. Sometimes I feel bad because, well, it's littering. But then I think, "When was the last time someone wrote a love letter to microwaveable buttered popcorn?"

And then I don't feel so bad.

25 April 2011

Who wants some stash?

Snapshot of Heather's box.
A couple weeks ago, I lucked out and received a box of arts/crafts goodies from Heather at Dollar Store Crafts. Then Lola decapitated one of the items inside and I have been on the hunt for headless crow crafts ever since.

22 April 2011

There are few things in life that make me happier than Diet Coke–one of them is world peace, the other one is craft foam.

I can’t get enough of it.

No idea why they didn’t have this stuff when I was a kid, but it’s probably a good thing since I would have spent my childhood locked in a room making King Arthur style craft foam costumes for the cat. 

You think I’m kidding.

21 April 2011

The expiration date on the carton indicates they are from Spring of 2002.
Whoa Nelly, them some old eggs!  
I told you, I have a lot of old eggs laying around. Just wait till I excavate from under the bed. Last time I went under there I surfaced with two of the billy goats gruff.

These eggs are lovely though, aren't they? I remember making them in the kitchen of my old apartment with my Aunt Nancy. She brought over a giant batch of parsley, onions and panty hose,  and I just about cried my eyes out trying to remove the onion skins to extract the dye (click here for directions). Beautiful as they are, this is one Easter project I will not be duplicating any time soon. I wear way too much mascara to let myself cry that ugly.

Welcome Home Matt!

A little more than three years ago, on a typical Tuesday afternoon, my friend and colleague Matt Kelly stopped in my office for our usual round of candy, gossip and youtubing 90 second scenes from R. Kelly's critical masterpiece, Trapped in the Closet. 

 Only this time was different. Silent, he sat there in the chair with his eyes glazed over, staring at my bookshelf. After a moment, he shoved a piece of licorice in his mouth and announced, rather abruptly,
“I think I’m going to do something crazy.”
Matt was going to quit his job and travel from Alaska to Argentina.
On his bicycle.
For nearly two years.

20 April 2011

The eggs are finally up.

I know, right, it took me long enough, but considering my new found inferiority complex concerning eccentric German men and their holiday traditions, it's an Easter miracle I put up an egg tree at all this year. And here is the thing: this isn't even half the collection.

There are more.

I rotate.

Because I'm a hoarder.

An egg hoarder.

Don't you judge me!

Some of these eggs are ten years old. No idea how they have made it this long because Lord knows I'm about as dainty as a rhinoceros and these eggs should have been smashed ages ago.

18 April 2011

Passover is more than a holiday laden with family, food, and wine; it’s a time for all of us to gather around the Seder table and remember those who struggled to survive, those who have past, and those who are still waiting for a Passover of their own.

It’s a celebration. An enduring symbol of freedom and triumph over oppression.

And if there was anyone who loves to talk about freedom and triumphing over oppression, it would be Charlie Sheen.

Okay, okay, okay, I know he may have said some not-so-nice things about the people of Israel. That’s what makes it hilarious. And if Jews are good at anything, it’s laughing at bat shit goyim.

And while I appreciate a good glass of kosher for Passover Manischewitz, in all it’s grape jelly-esque goodness, there is something really appealing about serving Fools & Trolls at the Seder table.

Zissen Pesach (Happy Passover Y'all. Or something like that.)

Next year in Jerusalem!
PS: My original intention was to publish these labels as printable online PDFs so you could use them too, but then my lawyer friend, the one who gets paid in cookies, advises me against it. Poo. Instead, if you want them, just email me directly and I’ll send you the PDF as an attachment. For personal and private use only.

14 April 2011

Cher and the Ruffled Chicken

Chickens are in.

I went out shopping for a baby shower gift the other day and found myself surrounded by chickens. Not bears. Not Elmo. Not Barney the purple dinosaur.


Has anyone else noticed how certain animals come in cycles of popularity? These days, chickens are everywhere. So are owls. Maybe chickens are the new owl. I’m pretty sure owls were the new giraffe.

I'm hoping the new chicken will be the seahorse. Is there are anything more musical and triumphant looking than a seahorse?

Welcome, Magnolia.

Do you know how long I have been waiting for the Magnolia tree outside my front window?

Eleven months.

That's a Long Ass Time for a little bitty thing like a flowering tree. Winter has been especially cruel. I was starting to think she would never come at all, yet here she is, beautiful as ever, just waiting to don her flowery ballgown.

Welcome, Magnolia.

13 April 2011

I made these big flowering Easter baskets last week. As much as I like them, they require hot glue and a lot of cutting and coloring, etc. I thought it would be nice to do a version suitable for small children and left-brain types who struggle with crafty terms like “smoosh” and “twist” and “fluff.”

These are easy peasy. Ten minutes. Zero money. 

Sound good? Let’s get started.

12 April 2011

Tissue Paper and Parsley Eggs

Some people hate Easter.

It’s as though the holiday wasn’t trendy enough for them. They don’t like all the fluffy little chickens. They don't like floral bonnets. They don't like little girls in white patent leather shoes. They don't like pastels.

Wow. It must suck to be them.

Let's grind it in a little further, shall we?

I'm skittish about the whole subject of dyeing eggs. My Mom despised food coloring and never kept it in the house. I think it was because of that whole "red dye causes cancer blah blah blah" crap from back in the day, but the sentiment lingered. To this day I try to avoid using the stuff whenever possible. It stains and seems, well, unnatural. Am I the only one who feels like that?

To tell you the truth, I would be happy to avoid egg dyeing in general. One time, at work, I sent an email blast to about 9,000 people, inviting them to a Easter Themed Dying Party, as opposed to an Easter Themed Dyeing Party.

Small typo. Big difference.

The boss was thrilled with me that day.

It did not help matters that this was years ago, when The Passion of the Christ was playing in theaters. People were all aflutter thinking it was some trendy new controversial event.

Holy crap I hated that job.

These days I'll happily stick to dyeing eggs with tissue paper instead of food coloring. It's cheap and easy too. Plus, they come out all mottled and unpredictable. I like my eggs unpredictable.

  • Eggs. Duh.
  • Torn up tissue paper (Note: NEW tissue paper works best. Don't use that old scruff you recycled from your Christmas gifts.)
  • Coffee Filters
  • Thread
  • Italian Parsley (Optional)
  • Hot water with a spoonful of vinegar

Tear your tissue into scraps (roughly the size of small child's hand) and layer them around the egg.
  • Tip: Tuck parsley leaves in between the tissue and the egg. It won't leave an exact imprint, but it will effect the egg shell's rate of absorption and help give softly marbled look.
  • Tip: Certain color tissue will lose dye faster, so don't go in expecting a rainbow on a single egg. Choosing colors similar in tone (red and orange, blue and green, blue and purple) will always yield lovely two-toned results.

Over the tissue, wrap the egg in a coffee filter and wind some thread around to keep it in place. Set them in a bowl of warm water with a splash of vinegar.

Take a load off. Let the eggs rest there in the water for an hour or so. The orangy-pinkish egg above stayed in the water for 30 minutes, whereas the hot pink tomato colored ones in the rear stayed in overnight. Same tissue papers, different results.  Like I said, I like my eggs unpredictable.

Once they are dry, blow their guts out and go to town; sequins, gold leaf, glitter, you name it!

Happy Easter :)

WARNING: These eggs are not for eating! As John said: Are we eating these eggs? Mel Gibson-themed workplace traumas aside, I have to scratch my head a little at the idea that food grade Easter egg dye freaks you out more than whatever toxic-ass sh*t is in random tissue paper. As someone who works tangentially in the food safety industry (enough to throw around fancy phrases like "vermin harborage" and "tangentially"), I must warn against eating these gorgeous, kaleidoscopic parcels of death.

Came home yesterday to find a box of random craft supplies from Heather at Dollar Store crafts. As part of her April Stash Busting challenge, nine other recipients and myself are charged with making goodies from the contents of the box, filled with goodies from her own personal craft stash.

Stay tuned. This box is chalk full of all kinds of potential.

I'll be sharing the love as soon as I can churn it out :)

Lola decided she wanted to get creative, too.

She made supper.

See, the box included a lovely, not to mention realistic, black crow.  I left it out on the coffee table overnight and when I woke up this morning, it appeared Lola had dragged it to her favorite rug and decapitated it.

Poor thing never saw it coming :(

Now the question is; what can I craft from a headless crow?

11 April 2011

Ashley's Cupcake Wreath

Last summer I was at a backyard barbecue when I spotted a little girl. While the other children were playing hide and seek indoors, she sat happily on a bench by herself, blowing bubbles, singing a song from the top of her head. I don’t recall the exact tune but it was something about a sand castle and mustard bottles. She wore glittered shoes, a polka dot dress and a tiara.

After introducing myself and complementing her on her musical stylings, I asked her why she was wearing a tiara. Looking up from her bubble wand, she stared me straight in the eye and answered, rather proudly, “Because I can.

Clearly, I had to meet this child’s mother.

Since then I have so enjoyed getting to know her mom, Ashley, who is All Kinds of Crafty. Seriously, the woman lives with jellybean colored walls (!!!) Until Ashley starts a blog, she has been kind enough to share a couple of her projects with me, including her version of the Easter wreath I posted last week. 

Folks, seriously, how cool is this?

I think I like her version better than the original. It’s so fun. So happy looking. The colors. The patterns. THE TINKER TAPE.

Perhaps this is an Easter project but it feels a bit like a birthday party. Or Mardi Gras. Or Cinco De Mayo. Or Tuesday. Why should we hang a cupcake wreath on our doors every Tuesday?

Because we can.


08 April 2011

Buck teeth: Check.

Cotton tail: Check.

Easter basket: Check.

The Easter bunny has come to town. Woot! Woot!

OK, can we just agree that Easter is the best holiday?

Second only to National Root Beer Float Day, perhaps.

And Lola’s birthday, of course.

And the day the dollar store restocks.

That is, indeed, a truly a extraordinary day.
The best part about Easter hoopla has got to be Easter baskets.

Chocolate. Chickens. Glittering Eggs. Toys. Socks.

Did your mother put socks in your Easter basket?

Mine sure did.

One time someone gave me a basket with teal blue press-on fingernails.

Obviously, it was awesome.

Another time I gave someone an Easter basket with a bottle of Jack Daniels dressed as a bunny.

Get it? It was a Jack Rabbit. Haha.

OK, OK, OK, it seemed funnier when I was 23. I guess everything seems funny when you’re 23. Then again, hard liquor dressed as a small furry animal is always going to be pretty friggin nifty.

Must give credit where credit is due, I got the idea for these baskets from these other baskets at World Market. Their baskets look sort of like large felt daisies. Very cute. Decided that instant I was going to make something similar, but, as much as I like them, something about felt feels very wintery to me, so I used coffee filters instead. Guess I use coffee filters for everything. Someone less lazy than me should try making these from fabric or junk mail or something. Post it and let me know how it works out.

  • 12 yellow coffee filters*
  • 3 green coffee filters
  • 1 disposable bowl. Paper cups and tupperware containers work great too.
  • 10" plastic coated electronic chord (mine came from my old telephone....I'll bet you have something laying around the house that will get the job done!
  • Hot glue**
* You can dye coffee filters many ways. If you can dye eggs, you can dye coffee filters the same way. You can also just dunk them in a bowl that is 1 part acrylic paint to 9 parts water. Or use markers. Decide fir yourself. Quantity will vary, depending on the size of the base container.

**You can swap hot glue for white glue and use clothespins to clamp in place as it dries, but hot glue is easier. I'll do a kid-friendly version of this without hot glue on Wednesday. Stay tuned.

 Use two coffee filters to cover the edges of the bowl, then fold and snip jagged edges along the rim of any remaining filters, similar to cutting snowflakes. I like to cute 3-5 filters at a time.

Separate filters and pinch them them individually, forming loose fan shapes. Use hot glue to adhere to the inner rim of the bowl.

After completing the inner rim of the bowl, flip your bowl and repeat along the outer rim. Tip: avoid crushing the petals by flipping the bowl onto a large soup can.

Use one of the green coffee filters to cover the bottom of the bowl, forming the base of the flower. Cut the remaining green filters into 1" strips and adhere to the telephone chord. Tuck in some leaves or just for fun.

 Place one large yellow filter in the bottom and fill it with candy. Ta Da! You are ready to go!

You could also add a little accent flower if you like. Makes it seem slightly less Easter-ish. Like something you could keep out on your cadenza all year round to gather mail. Man, penny saver coupons never looked so good!

Or be traditional and fill it with eggs. Not as snazzy as chocolate and Jack Daniels but I give you props for being all traditional and stuff.

Come back on Wednesday and I'll show you an easy, kid-friendly way to make a little tiny Easter basket like this purple one here. It's so cute, you'll want to eat your hand.

07 April 2011

Snacking with Nancy Reagan

Am I the only person under 80 who keeps a candy-nut dish?

Don't answer that.
Suppose it's an old fashioned thing to do, but I genuinely like to keep a little something to nosh on. Especially dainty, festive little snacks like these salted nuts and candied chocolate eggs. 

And, really, just keeping it out on the coffee table makes me feel like Nancy Reagan --ready and willing to entertain the ladies of the Junior League in a moments notice. 

Ahem, of course, Nancy Reagan never kept a sports car sized pile of laundry in her living room either.  But if she did, I'm pretty sure it would be because she neglected her folding duties because her fingers were dirty from noshing on all that festive candy. 

Legit excuse, No?  

Screw the Junior league, Nan! Let's have some chocolate!

05 April 2011

Check out my tie-dye egg tuffets in the April issue of Disney Family Fun magazine. It's a fun little way to display eggs using coffee filters and an old toilet paper roll. And really, isn't it just fun to say egg tuffets?

I sure think so.

Oodles of good ideas in this issue, including this idea for coloring eggs with melted crayons. Good stuff!


04 April 2011

Y'all are going to get really tired of me making everything all pink and green and flouncy from now until Easter. Forgive me. I can't help it. It's a holiday marked by small furry creatures and ginormous hats. It just doesn't get any better than this!

Now check out my Easter wreath. Yes, it's a bit foofy, even for me, but sometimes a little foof is a good thing! And it was ridiculously easy. All you need is a few dozen cucake liners, coffee filters, and a stapler.
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