January 30, 2012

Handmade Birthday: Toy Lamp

I found this project at Turning Stones and I knew I had to make it for someone. Since my nephew turned 9 just after Christmas, and since he's such a fan of toy figurines and handmade crafts, I thought that he'd appreciate this. Turning Stones has a pretty good tutorial on how to make this, and I followed her advice very closely.

First, I found a bunch of random toys at Goodwill, along with a tabletop lamp base. I also pulled out a few toys from my toy box stash to supplement.

I decided that the two largest pieces, the gorilla and the dragon, were going to be my feature pieces so I determined their placement first. From there I started gluing on the smaller pieces around them, and crafted a storyline for the piece as I went along (of course, the storyline is not necessary, but it did make it more interesting for me, and helped me determine placement for the many pieces). It took about four hours to glue everything on, but the time passed fairly quickly. I used the Loctite quick-drying gel superglue recommended on Turning Stones. At first I purchased the wrong Loctite glue, and after holding the piece on the lamp for five minutes with nothing happening, I quickly realized my mistake and purchased new glue (I went through 3 bottles of glue for this project).

I had to do a little cutting and carving to get all the pieces to fit, particulary to make it look like the gorilla is hanging onto the lamp. For that I cut off his right arm, then glued it back on raised up.
After all the pieces were glued on, it was time for a coat of plastic primer spray paint, and then...

... multiple coats of turquoise spray paint!

Dragon and Gorilla are fighting for dominance over the city (Dragon's weapon of choice? A lobster, of course).

The citizens are irate, traffic has come to a standstill, sewer monsters are escaping, and bad guys are taking advantage of the mayhem.

The citizens are arming themselves and taking to the streets. It's a fight of good against evil!

* UPDATE * If you have moveable parts on the toys, be sure to glue them down. We noticed that some of the paint will chip if the parts move. Also, if you have softer rubber toys, like the sewer monster above, I wouldn't suggest using them. The paint will also chip off these. It's a shame too, because the rubbery toys are so poseable!

January 27, 2012

Carnival Birthday Party

In between Christmas and New Years Day, Aidan turned 9! 

Last year Mike and I spent some time with him brainstorming ideas for a Carnival-themed birthday party. Unfortunately it wasn't able to happen for his 8th birthday, but one year later we all managed to pull it off.

The party was planned for the afternoon, and Aidan invited about 15 kids. Luckily there were just as many adults on hand to help out.

Auntie Sara worked up the invitations while I pulled together some signs for each of the game stations.

Susanna made booklets that contained game tickets for each station and the kids were supposed to try each game once before going back to their favorite ones.

Each kid got a ticket booklet and a container to hold the tickets that they won at each game.
After all the games had been played once, they could start cashing in their tickets for prizes.

In addition to corndogs, juice boxes and chips, Susanna got a new cotton candy machine for the party; Sara was a trooper as she cranked out cone after cone.


We had six game stations, including:

The Guessing Game: where the winning guesses took home the jars of candy.


A Squirt Gun Shooting Game:  ping pong balls were set up on bottles, and each kid had 10 seconds to squirt as many off as possible. Note the cool labels applied to empty beer and wine bottles.

The Balloon Pop: a classic using darts, balloons and big sheet of plywood.

The Bean Bag Toss: tossing beanbags through holes cut out of plywood.

The Ping Pong Bounce: a tricky one that required some precision. Kids could bounce the balls off the floor or off a small wooden ramp. This was the hardest game, but I was surprised at how many times this one was attempted. 

The Ring Toss: our only purchased game, which included inflatable "posts" and plastic rings to be tossed over each post.

This portion of the party lasted about two hours, which was followed up by eating, presents, and then finally an hour or so of running around outside and getting really muddy and hyped up on sugar. All of the adults "crashed" at about the same time as the kids. Needless to say, we slept well that night.

January 23, 2012

Handmade Christmas: Moose Head

My brother-in-law is a very hard person to get a gift for. He has what he wants, and he doesn't want much. However, he didn't have a miniature moose head. He does now.

For scale, the wooden plaque is about 4" high. The rest is all wool roving; there are pipe cleaners in the antlers to give them some stability and the eyes are black beads.

In case this seems like a random gift, here's a little background context:

This is about 1/10 of his collection, so as you can imagine, the moose head fits right in.

January 21, 2012

Mount Baker Skiing

As mentioned, Mike and I finally got up to go skiing this year. We were thwarted last year; first in January during our trip to Bend, then again in February when our trip to Mt. Baker was canceled due to too much snow. As a result it's been quite a few years since we've been skiing/snowboarding. With Sara and Bobby in town over Christmas (avid skiers/boarders) and since our nephew Aidan wanted to learn to snowboard, we had plenty of motivation to get up the mountain this year.

On our first trip up we took Aidan with us so that his uncles could give him some lessons on snowboarding.

 Bobby gets Aidan suited up.

 Then shows him how it's done.

Aidan was a great listener and caught on quick.

While Mike and I took the first shift with Aidan on the Daisy Slope, Sara and Bobby took off for some runs.

We switched it up after lunch so that Mike and I could get a couple hours in. And a couple hours was all it took to wear us out.

 Our second day up at Mt. Baker, with several day's rest in between, was a lot of fun, until Mike caught a back edge and ended up on his head. We ended our day in the new Raven's Hut lodge while Mike got his wits back. Thank goodness for helmets.

January 19, 2012

Handmade Christmas: Leather Bracelets

Earlier this Fall on one of our trips to Hood River I found a bracelet at the Ruddy Duck that perfectly went with my recent tunic purchase. It was $35 though, and I just felt like I could make it for less. Turns out I could, but it required a fair amount of effort. I ended up making two for myself, then two more for my sisters. Sara's is above in red and Susanna's is green.

The general materials are 8' - 9' of leather cord cut into 4" - 6" lengths (depends on wrist size and clasp length), cord clamps, small pieces of leather, clasp, heavy duty thread and a strong, yet thin needle. 

The leather strands are clamped together at each end and then the clamp is covered with two pieces of leather. I hand-sewed the leather together, and included a magnetic clasp.

January 18, 2012

New Year's Eve

This year for New Year's Eve we were still visiting our family, so we got to attend Susanna and Clayton's annual party. It was a lovely affair; everybody brought food and drink (Susanna made some delicious pulled pork) and Susanna had craft activities for the kids (though, I couldn't help myself and I made a sock puppet too!).

Everybody brought a gift for the white elephant gift exchange, as well. Clayton ended up with some lovely Hello Kitty slippers:

Mike got a new t-shirt (I'll try not to be offended):

And Bobby got a new book:


The kids even had their own gift exchange, only they brought gifts that were less "white elephant" and more fun! The kids were all happy with their gifts, but there was one stand-out gift that everybody loved: a Rose Art Tattoo Writer (basically a pen that vibrates). Bobby doled out tattoo after tattoo after tattoo...


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