Saturday, June 30, 2012

Crafty Tutorial: Button Art and Mod Podge Frame

I don't do a lot of tutorials. Mostly, it's because a lot of what I attempt gets flattened by the crafty fail whale, but it also happens that when things DO go right, I'm too distracted to stop and take pictures.

And what good is a tutorial with no photos?

No good, I tell you, no good at all.

Our house is very, very slowly adding life. We have a table. Chairs. Couch. Loveseat. Coffee table. Bed in our room (poor Boo still has an air mattress, but we're working on that!)

But the walls are bare. Part of me can't bring myself to riddle them with finishing nails to hang stuff like I seem to do in all of our rentals. (I'll be trying out those non-damaging wall-hanger-upper things in this place). And the other part of me, well, that's the girl that got rid of most of her stuff in Alaska, so there isn't much art for the kids' rooms. At all.

This is the part of the story that I found inspiration. It started with my girl, Vanessa, at Tried & True. I've raved about her before (not everyone gets to say they went to high school with a craft superstar!). I'll do it again. She has the best. tutorials.ever. She reviewed a new book in this post: "Mod Podge Rocks!"

Of couse I read it and was intrigued by the author, Amy Anderson, who runs a blog called...wait for it...Mod Podge Rocks!

My bottles of Mod Podge happened to make the trek down from Alaska and I was thrilled at the Serendipty of it all. Or maybe just the good luck. Whatever floats your boat, y'know?

Anyway, digging through Amy's site, I found a post called "Button Art on the Cheap" and really liked it. Reeeeeally liked it and thought I could spruce up a frame with some scrapbook paper and make something special for the girls' room.

Turns out, I could!

I hit the local Hobby Lobby (I have lived 8 long years without outdoor swimming pools or Hobby Lobbies...I'm not entirely sure how) and grabbed a frame and a couple sheets of pretty paper. I had the rest in my craft boxes. (Unpacked, still. Texas is too hot to bother with unpacking when you don't have shelves or bookcases to put anything on.)

Ready for the tutorial? Sweet!

Button Art and Mod Podge Frame


Plain wooden frame (can be repurposed, but mine wasn't, so boo on me)

Pretty scrapbook paper, cut in all sorts of sizes

Craft paint in coordinating color

Mod Podge (I used the gloss formula)


Hot glue gun

Any extras for your finished frame (I had a fabric butterfly from a flower arrangement that a good friend gave to me when we arrived in Texas. Isnt' she so sweet?)


Assemble your materials. I pulled my frame apart and readied a paint brush and craft paint.

Paint the outside and inside edges of your frame. If you are deft of hand and don't mind making slivers of paper and mod podge to cover these parts of the raw frame, be my guest! But I'm lazy and didn't want to really bother with that part. So I painted them...messily, too. That's the great part about the next step...

Apply thick layers of Mod Podge and assemble your paper scraps all around the frame. Be neat. Be messy. Doesn't all works out nicely in the end!

I cut one of my papers to fit the frame backing and adhered it (yes, more Mod Podge!) to said backing to make the next step easier.


So while the frame was drying in all its decoupage and paper scrap glory, I got to glueing buttons on my paper and backing (it's so much easier to have the paper stuck to the frame back for stability).  I kept my buttons in pretty neat little rows, but you should experiment. Also, I thought one plain button was sort of boring, so Boo and I got to finding little, bitty "partner" buttons to glue on top of our bigger buttons for a little height and visual interest. 

Speaking of visual interest, that's the fabric butterfly that was stuck to a dowel and inserted into a beautiful flower arrangement.

You can see the final product in the next photo...

A close up. I love the stacked buttons. Heck, I love the whole darn thing and now Boo is asking for a boy version (with dinosaurs and race cars, no less) for his room. We'll see what we can come up with...

Happy crafting!

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Summer of a 100 Books: June's Book Report

Funny thing happens when you run out of money after a big move and you just so happen to have seems you have to keep entertaining and enriching their lives, even if you're short the $60 it would take to get them into the fancy, amazing, totally-awesome-looking museum in downtown Houston.

Kids are tricky like that.

In the neighborhood we happen to reside in, we straddle a county line. (Doesn't that sound dirty?)  It's not dirty, I assure you. One is called Harris County (that's Houston) and the other is Fort Bend County (that's the Sugar Land area). And both of these lovely counties happened to have built great library branches within three miles of our house and our kids now know both librarians by name. Or sight. Or maybe not at all...but the point is, we've been there so much in our first month back in Texas that they SHOULD know their names by now.

Last summer, Boo and I embarked on a long, exciting adventure at the Anchorage library and devoured what amounted to 117 books from the time Boy Wonder left until the time he returned to start second grade.

This summer, we have Makenna with us, and while it means a lot more hustling up and down aisles after wayward toddlers, it's a great experience for her. Though libraries be warned, she is a book assassin. We will keep her safely in the board book category until she's at least 15 years old at this rate.

So, even though we have about three days left, here's our June report:

1. Trashy Town (Mr. Gilly and his green trash truck had our waste management loving preschooler enthralled for a few days. Definitely a "must purchase" eventually.)
2. Busy Chickens (this one was for Makenna. It was hilarious. Chickens are hilarious.)
3. Lonely Moose
4. LIttle Owl's Night
5. Baby's Art Book (Makenna victim #1)
6. Boynton ABC (Makenna victim #2)
7. Ladybug Girl (Already a victim before we checked it out, but they'll probably blame Makenna anyway)
8. Little Blue Truck Leads the Way by Alice Scherttle (You know Boo and his transportation books)
9. The Witch's Ball by D. Steinberg
10. A Very Brave Witch by A. McGhee
11. Cowboy Ned and Andy by D. Stein
13. Buttons (B. Cole)
14. The Star Child  by B. Watts
15. Princess Kim and Too Much Truth by M. Cocca-Leffler
16. Queen of Style by C. and M. Buehner
17. Rismonan of the Flashing Sword by E. Kimmel
18. My first Signs
19. Maisy Goes to the City by L. Cousins
20. Clifford, We Love You by N. Bridwell
21. Clifford the Champion by N. Bridwell
22. The Gruffalo's Child by J. Donaldson
23. Clifford the Small, Red Puppy
24. The Prince's Bedtime by J. Oppenheim
25. I'm Big by K. and J. McMullan
26. Oink? by M. Palatini
27. The Daddy Goose Treasury by V. French
28. Cezanne and the Apple Boy by L. Anholt
29. Glass Slipper, Gold Sandal by P. Fleischman
30. Sweet Briar Goes to Camp by K. Wilson
31. Elmer and Rose by D. Mckee
32. Margaret Wise Brown's Wonderful House by M. Wise Brown
33 George and the Dragon by C. Wormell
 34. George and the Dragon and the Princess by C. Wormell

Notables this month? My personal favorite was "Buttons" by Brock Cole. Not much could be found about the author (as in, he doesn't really have a website so I can stalk him), but the story about three daughters setting out to replace their father's missing buttons (in very clever ways that ultimately land them all husbands) was a big surprise.

The two George and the Dragon books by Chris Wormell were a huge hit with both kids. Boo loves George the Mouse and the fact that he can scare a scary dragon away just by showing his face had him in stitches. Makenna? She had an odd fascination with the red dragon and growled each time I turned the page. Part dragon baby? Maybe.

Hope your summer is a good one!


Monday, June 11, 2012

Meet the Neighborhood Welcoming Committee

Katy isn't exactly the wide open prairie. We live next to one of the biggest outlet malls in the state. There's a donut shop around the corner. A brake shop right next to it. If my stomach were lined with lead and I were so inclined, I could find the Jack in the Box less than a mile away, across the street from the Wal-mart.

And yet...

One field over from our place is a collection of three fields.

And in those three fields lives the most extraordinary herd of urban cows I've ever met. They rotate fields constantly and Boo has named each of these fields. There's the breakfast field, the lunch field, and the dinner field.

We drive by our herd to say hello every couple of days and to check on our favorite members. You can meet them, too.

This is Snow White. I'm not even sure if it's a female or if we're going to need to pay for therapy when this baby grows into a teenaged cow...but here "she" is. She's cute and loves the greenery just outside her gate in the breakfast field.

Big Red. She's not all that big, really, but she's a gorgeous shade of red. I also call her "Reba" when the country music station is on. She's usually by herself or with her boyfriend in one of the fields by themselves. Perhaps the rancher has plans for Reba/Big Red to be a mama cow soon. Or maybe she just doesn't play well with the others.

Boo calls this guy "Banana the Donkey" for some reason. I can't even begin to explain the name or how one single donkey peacefully coexists in a herd of longhorn cows. It's great, though.

The black and white guy standing is Boo's favorite. He calls him the "Fat Guy" even though he's got mad ribs sticking out and looks like he could use an extra serving of grass. He's the tallest cow and I think that's why Boo can spot him in whatever field he happens to be munching.

These two cranky cows are always together in a small sub-field. We've seen them grumpy a time or two and they probably hang out by themselves so they don't hurt the herd's many calves that are wondering around, leaving their legos out or asking for a million snacks. As you can see, they live in a field with a bunch of tractor trailers so we appropriately dubbed these two the "Trucker Twins."

Have a fantastic week!


Thursday, June 7, 2012

Like a Rag-Tag Band of Refugees

Let me just start off by saying that I was certain we would not survive the seven-hour flight to Houston. POSITIVE. I hate flying. Boo hates sitting still. Makenna doesn't hate much, but she's 11 months old and how much can I really expect from her?  And Patrick, well, watching him finagle his frame into the iPhone-sized economy seat is painful in a very real and very empathetic way.

But guess what? We made it. One shot, one kill...boom. We landed in Houston bleary eyed and sweating profusely the moment we left the sanctuary of the airport's refrigerated air. (This was a 6:37 a.m., mind you...)

The last week has been sort of a blur. We arrived. We stayed in a stanky Motel 6 with scary prostitutes and truckers outside. Good thing nobody bothered us because all four of us slept 13 hours straight in that Twighlight Zone hotel room. (That was sort of freaky, to be honest.)

We moved into our new place. As you can see in the first photo, we don't have much. For the first week or so, we mostly sat around and lamented the fact that our butts hurt and it was too hot to do anything outside but melt.

Little by little, and with the most awesome help from our surrogate family and fellow Alaskan transplants Ricky and Keri, we're finding our own, new normal. They let us borrow a television and digitial atenna and you would have thought we lived in a cave, we were so grateful to see evening news and Gordon Ramsey.

Our trucks are lost some where between the Puget Sound and Purgatory, so for a while we travel in and out of a vehicle-less state. We gave up and rented a car last night that we probably couldn't afford...but we are at the point where eating Beenie Weenies is a fair trade for being able to get out and about. (I am DYING to check out the Katy library branch. I have it on my itinerary for tomorrow. Woo hoo!)

We're learning to move around the heat and humidity. The other photos above were taken at a neighborhood park. At 7:07 a.m. Yep, we get all our playgrounding and excercising in before 9 a.m., folks. And don't bother suggesting I wait until the evening in the Gulf Coast, 9 p.m. means a drastic cooloff to a balmy 91 degrees. No thanks!

The pool. Oh, the pool. Not only can I thank it for the awesome tan I'm building, but I forgot just how fun these things are. How could I have existed in a place for eight long years that had NO OUTDOOR POOLS in the entire state??? Yes, folks, I'm elated at the fact I have a pool a few steps out my front door. Spoiled even.

Today I made it to the downtown Houston office via the Katy/Houston metro. Me and about 40 other worker bees piled into a touring bus and thumbed our noses  from the HOV/Commuter lane at the poor slobs sitting still in traffic. Downtown Houston is beautiful in a big, intimidating way. My phone battery was dying as I desperately prayed Google maps to hold out for just a couple more blocks while I found my way to the office.

I am so happy we made it and so happy with our decision to return to my homestate. But it's different. The air is different. The coffee is different (terrible, actually). The routines are different. The vibe is...well...different.

I keep asking P how long I'm going to feel like a a refugee looking for a home. But check out those kids up there. They don't look very lost, do they? Seems to me I could take a page out of my childrens' playbook and just get with the program and enjoy the new view!

Hope summer is beautiful where you are!