Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Get crafty with your Easter basket

     So maybe you've seen the flimsy Easter baskets out there in the stores...  When my son was a baby, I decided that instead of buying a new, rickety Easter basket every year, I'd make a really NICE one, and we'd leave it out empty on Easter Eve and let the bunny fill it up, sort of like Santa does with the stockings.  I bought a sturdy basket at Michael's (Here's a link. You can see their latest circular, but I'm not sure you can buy online:  and I got assorted ribbons and trim at Wal-Mart.  I bought a few rolls of promotional ribbon and trim in coordinating colors (blues for my son, and when my daugher was born, pinks and purples for her) and I attached them with the help of one of my dearest friends, my hot glue gun.  I just glued a drop here and there along the ribbon or trim to secure the ends and to keep the lines in place.  Plan on doubling or tripling the circumference of your basket, plus a few inches more to overlap the ends.  As you can see on the pink basket, small decorative items (such as the rosettes I used) work well here, too. 

     The baskets are strong, easy to make, and hold a HUGE amount (great for the kids, although bad for the bunny's wallet) and make a nice keepsake.

Happy Spring Crafting!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Hate Photos of Yourself? Join my club!

     Ok, let’s have a show of hands: who out there loathes pictures of themselves?  I bet I’m not the only one.  When someone says, “PICTURE TIME!”  Who cringes and runs away?  If you, in a moment of daring say to yourself, “I’ll look that camera in the eye and I won’t give a crap,” do you later, upon seeing the picture, say “What was I thinking?”  My friends, we are not alone.
      Am I “afraid” of the camera, as my mother told me when I was about eight years old (which certainly didn’t help my fear of photos)?  There must be something to taking a good photo, as I’ve deduced from watching countless episodes of America’s Next Top Model.  Some of those girls are just average everyday girls, but inexplicably, they take a great photo every time.  I’m the polar opposite of that – inexplicably, I take a horrible photo every time, even when I think I’m having a good face day.  It’s not just that I have a distorted view of myself.  I have a reputation for this in my family.  I seriously make bizarre faces in the presences of a camera.  My eyes are half closed (a CLASSIC for me), my eyes are completely closed, I have a “stoned” look on my face, my mouth is in a weird “O” shape, one eye is more closed than the other… I could go on and on. 
     My sister, who is a great photographer, looks great in EVERY photo AND is the Photoshop QUEEN, patiently took multitudes of photographs of me one holiday, and then emailed me a really nice one.  I mean, really nice.  I was amazed.  It was like seeing a unicorn. 
     “You Photoshopped me.”  I said.  Did you Photoshop me?” (That’s how good of a job she did.)
     “Only a little” she replied.
     I wanted to carry it around with me, to show people that I can, with great effort and resources, once every leap year, good in photos, but before I printed a million copies and left them everywhere, the computer crashed and I lost the photo. 
     Yesterday I got my hair cut and colored, and my friends told me to take a picture of myself and post it on Facebook.  Sounded like a good idea, until I took 10 pictures of myself in a row and in every one my hair looked good, but I looked like a mummy.  Imagine: pale face, staring at the camera, but with eyes half closed and mouth in an O shape.  Tyra Banks would tear me up.    
    I want to hear from other people who hate photos of themselves.  I know you’re out there…You’re the Facebook friends who ALWAYS have pictures of something other than yourself as your profile picture… Is it even possible for us to overcome this shortcoming?   Here’s what I find most amusing about this photo curse, though, and maybe you’ve noticed it, too.  Although there are not too many photos of me around, I noticed that when I spot one that I hated twenty years ago, suddenly, it doesn’t look THAT bad.   Hummmm, so, in another twenty years, these photos that I hate today won’t look so bad either, I’m guessing… ?  But for now, ugh.

Monday, April 11, 2011


Daughter as mother and daughter are leaving the house one afternoon:  It smells like spring out here.

Mother (smiling to herself, because she noticed the same thing:  Yes, it does.  I like that smell.

Daugher:  Me too.  It smells like dirt. 

Mother, laughing:  It does smell like dirt. 

. . . and clean rain. 

Spring smells like dirt, and new leaves and clean rain. 

Happy Spring!

Friday, April 8, 2011

The UnBirthday Cake - a cake for the rest of us!

     As you know, there are 365 days in a year, and only one of them is your birthday.  If you know someone who pines for their birthday 364 days of the year (I'm betting that someone will be about 4 or 5 years old), you could always make then an UNbirthday cake.  I put this one together in about an hour or so.  Decorating it was another story.  Your unbirthday cake decorating can be as simple or as time consuming as you are willing to tolerate.  I won't even tell you how long this took to decorate.  I'm no Buddy the Cake Boss.

Here's what you'll need to build your cake:

...a few cardboard boxes that are in good shape, a pencil, scissors, and most importantly, paper packing tape.  You can get a roll at an office supply store like Staples.  My dad gave me this roll, believe it or not, about twenty years ago when I was making paper mache animals for the preschool where I worked.  It was much bigger then, but it's like the ever-lasting gobstopper of tape, the only catch is that you need to store it in a dry place.  If you don't, the humidity will cause the glue-coated side to stick the roll together and it will be useless.   This tape is important because any kind of plastic tape will not allow paint to stick to it.  You don't want to do all this work and then be unable to decorate your cake!

Now, take one of your boxes and round out the sides, like this:

The more bends you put in the cardboard, the rounder your cake layer will be. 

Next, lay your carboard box back down on a flat surface, take a straight edge (I use a 48" long metal ruler I bought in the Sears tool department for this kind of thing) and draw a crooked line across the top.  The more crooked, the better.  You don't want people thinking your cake layers are crooked by accident.  When I brought my cake in to school for the play, I was informed by one of the technology teachers that I'd created a truncated cylinder.  "Yeah, yeah, that sounds familiar," I said.  Don't ask me to find the volume of a truncated cylinder.  That's about the time my math anxiety kicked in.

Now you're going to put a bottom and top layer on your cake.  Place the your cake onto a piece of carboard that's large enough to cover the whole circle you've created.  Arrange the bent cardboard cylinder into a nice circle shape, unless you want a truncated oval, but hey, you're on your own with that.  Trace around your cake, drawing a circle on the flat piece of cardboard, like so:

Ignore the little slits in the cardboard - you can cover them up with your paper tape later.

Cut the circle out with your scissors, or a box cutter if you like living on the edge. Place the "cake" on it's bottom.  Does it fit pretty nicely?

 If so, flip it over and tape around the edges with SMALL pieces of your paper tape.  You need to use small pieces of tape so you can keep everything totally flat while navigating the edge of the circle.  If you use big pieces, they won't lay flat enough.  The tape I use needs to be wet on the glue side to activate the glue (hence, the humidity problem).  There may be other tapes that work, but I haven't used them, so I don't know for sure. 

Repeat the tracing and cutting procedure for the top of the cake as well, and tape that side on with your paper tape, too. 

(In this picture there's no bottom yet, but I added it later.  I should have added it first.)

For the top layer of your cake, repeat the process described above, except use a smaller box for your initial circle (my 3rd picture).  OR, you could do what I did, and cut a chunk out of the box, and use your paper tape to tape it back together.   For this second layer you don't need a bottom, just a top.    When you attach it to the first layer, you may have to spend some time trimming the bottom of the top layer so it fits on the bottom layer as snuggly as possible.

Before you decorate, make sure EVERY hole is covered up with a smooth layer of paper tape.  Holes will show up glaringly when you decorate. 

I used puff paint (which was not as puffy as I would have liked - I should have used white silicone window sealer) and I made candles out of rolled copy paper that I glued on with my hot glue gun (I LOVE my glue gun). 

A friend of mine is going to make an UNtruncated (regular) cylinder cake for a shower she's planning - she's going to use it as a platform for her TERRIFIC cupcakes.  If she starts a cupcake blog as she says she's going to, I'll post a link here. 

Have fun everyone, and Merry Unbirthday!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Alice in Wonderland

     The show is finally over and although it's kind of sad, I have already breathed a great big sigh of relief.  Some things turned out just the way I planned and some things... did not.  But so what.  I know what I would do differently next time.

The kids had a great time (there was crying before the last show when they started thinking that it was going to be over) and in spite of the time crunch, so did I. 

To quote the caterpillar, "Remember, Alice, inner fabulousity.  Now answer this one simple question:  Whoooooo are youuuuuu?"  

I'm closer to knowing. Thanks, Alice.