Friday, April 11, 2014

On the hunt: STL250 Cakeway to the West #STL250

If you follow me on Instagram (@lansdownelife), you probably have noticed the new photo project we've started for 2014.

St. Louis turned 250 this year, and to celebrate, the city is placing 250 birthday cake sculptures all around the metro area at significant locations, each painted by different artists. It's part public art, party history lesson, and part scavenger hunt.

It started out innocently enough when we ran across our first cake. Then our second. But Elise is obsessed with cooking and baking. She loves the Food Network and grocery stores. And when she grows up, she'll tell you she wants to be a baker. Cakes are her thing. So as the weather has warmed, we have started cake hunting in earnest. We're lucky the vast majority of them are within 20 minutes of our house!

So far, we've found 51 cakes (20%!), and we're still hunting. We may not get to all of them, but we have all year to try!

Anyone else in STL cake hunting?

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

DIY craft kits for kids: Birthday cards

Birthday candle handmade birthday card

I started making these DIY craft kits for my daughter as an alternative to the pre-packaged kits from the craft store. This post is the second installment in the series. See the first one here: Washi tape covered clothespins.


Birthday cardmaking kit

I have to admit, this next craft kit project has a selfish undertone. I have become fabulously bad at birthday cards. I forget to buy them. I forget to make them. I forget to send them.

And sometimes, when I absolutely have to have one right now, I shove some paper and crayons in Elise's hands and she makes something passable. Because she's four and "hastily thrown together" is passable for a four year old.

So like I said, this craft kit project is a bit selfish because I'm having her make a batch of cute homemade birthday cards for us to give throughout the year.

Supplies for making handmade birthday cards

So what's in the kit?

  • A bunch of paper scraps cut in candle and flame shapes.
  • A pack of blank notecards with envelopes
  • Some double-sided adhesive foam dots
  • Letter stickers
  • A glue stick (if the adhesive foam dots don't work out or are too hard for her)

The design was inspired by this card. I chose it because it was easy enough for a four-year-old to execute and also a wonderful way to use up paper scraps. I cut a ton of shapes from leftover scrapbook papers. I wanted her to have some choice with the color combinations, so I cut way more than she will actually need. The letter stickers can be used to spell out messages or names. Easy peasy!

Paper scraps for making greeting cards

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Studio organization: Works in progress storage

Shelves for drying paintings

On the hunt for some new furniture, I hit the antique malls for the first time in maybe a year! I was way past due. I've been looking for a buffet-type piece of furniture to use in our living room, but I came across this instead.

Wood shelves at antique mall

Over the past six months or so, I've been slowly building my studio, while also trying to work in said studio. It was a mess, and the whole thing was just leaving me feeling disorganized and crazy.

To get some clarity, I made a list of every function I needed the space to perform. Work space, materials storage, finished goods storage, packing space, etc. And then I realized I had a big hole in my process: I had no storage area for works in progress. Everything was just everywhere. Painted frames drying wherever I could find a flat surface, which, in turn, gave me no place to work. It seems really obvious now, but I just hadn't broken it down like that before.

Shelving units for storing drying painting

So anyway, when I ran across these units with perfectly sized shelves, I lunged. At $40 each, they were easy to say 'yes' to. Because if you've ever priced letter sorters or furniture with a bunch of shelves or pigeonholes, you will know that $40 is a bargain. And forget about finding anything made of wood. I bought one, and then went back the next day for the other.

These things are SOLID wood and super heavy. And also handmade and a bit rough, but I sort of like their garagey character for now. The space is still a work in progress, but I feel like all the functional components are finally here. Let's hope I can share some prettier pictures soon!

Friday, March 28, 2014

How to make a scalloped party banner + free template

How to make a Scalloped Felt Party Banner (with free PDF template)

I tried to incorporate scallops in subtle ways throughout Etta's first birthday party. I'm not sure it really came through in the photos, but the scalloped banners were right there front and center. Huge impact for just a few dollars worth of materials.

Rainbow of felt

I used the cheap felt made from recycled plastic (not pricey wool felt) and got most of it on sale for 2.99/yd. I also added in a few of the 9"x12" felt sheets in some additional colors. I ended up using maybe two-thirds of my 1/4 yard pieces. All in all, maybe $5 worth of felt.

Creating a scallop template by tracing a bowl

I created a template from a cereal box by tracing a bowl about 8 inches in diameter, 7 7/8" to be exact. (Psst... I made a downloadable template too! More on that below.)

The key to the scallop shape is going bigger than a simple half circle. It ends up looking too thin and needs just an extra bit of height. I used about 2/3 of the circle and then squared off the flat edge. (Of course, this is just what looks good to my eye, so do what you will!)

Tracing a semi-circle template onto felt

I used a fine-tipped Sharpie marker to trace around the template, and then cut the felt carefully with a sharp scissors, making sure to cut away the marker line.

Sewing felt onto ribbon to create party banner

After I cut out all my scallops, I sewed them onto a piece of grosgrain ribbon. This went quicker than I expected, and I had all three of my banners done in under an hour. Yes, really!

Sewn felt scalloped party banner

Simple straight line stitching goes really fast!

Want to make one too? I made a PDF template for the shape of the scallop. You'll need approximately a 8.25" x 5.25" piece of felt for each scallop.

How to make a scalloped party banner (with free PDF template)

See more banner and party ideas >>

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