Monthly Archives: May 2011

Wordless Wednesday: Nursery Art Fail

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It’s our Guest Clutterblogging Day!

Make sure you head on over to Sugar in my Grits today!

Jessica is hosting a fabulous blogging event, and it’s our day to be featured.  Pop on over and check out our article Gaijin in Japan, and learn more about life overseas.

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Crafts for the Uncrafty: “Picture Frames” for Kids

It’s no secret.  I.  Can’t.  Craft.  But, I’m responsible for a lovely Girl Scout troop filled with fabulous young ladies and am always looking for EASY crafts that even I can handle.

Today’s Uncraft is simple, cheap, and fun for the kids.  I’m always surprised when they can take something so simple and treat it like it is a great work of art.  That’s why I love children.

Step 1)  Use your word processor and create a template for a picture frame for the kids to color in.

It's nice and colorful, but that's really because I'm out of black ink. That's so Clutterholic.

Or you can use the Clutterholic FrameTemplate.

Step 2) Give the kids craft supplies and let them go to town!  They will probably take it very seriously.  I told them in the beginning that this was a “quick craft” and we would only spend 10-15 minutes on it.  Nearly 30 minutes later we were finally wrapping up.  They were just having so much fun that I let them continue.  I try not to make a habit of squashing kid’s creative moments.

I also don’t mind if children decide to walk to the beat of their own drum or think outside the box.  There will always be the ones who ignore your directions and decide to go ahead and cut out the middle because it just makes more sense to them that way.  And that’s okay!

K decided she didn't like the middle part, so she cut it out. I love it, K!

Or someone may decide they want a BIGGER frame than the one you designed.  Neat!

I love it, A! No need to make your art small when you've got BIG ideas!

And then you will always have at least one who looks at a project and sees something completely different.  Wonderful!

Precious little C decided that she didn't need a photo. She created her OWN art for her frame!

As a bonus, here’s another fun photo activity.  We’ve been working on our photography badge, but this could easily be tweaked as something fun to do at home with your kids!  I printed this and used it as a title page and created blank “books” for the kids to take home and go crazy with.  The directions are self-explanatory.  Enjoy!

This would be fun to make memory books for Christmas, birthday parties, or summer vacation!

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5 Secrets of Happiness at Clutterhome

By these standards, the Clutterfamily is the BEST of the BEST.

Now why didn't my mama tell me this? But really, does it matter if they're only sort of folded and hidden in the closet? Nope! We've got bigger fish to fry.

Our pets love us like we're perfect.

Then I guess we're livin' well!

A home and happiness is what you make it. We can be happy and a family anywhere and in any circumstances we find ourselves.

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DIY Nautical Nursery: Signal Flag Art

Greetings, extended Clutterfamily!  We here at Blue Palm Manor have been chugging away all weekend working on our DIY Nautical Nursery.  We’re super excited to finally begin sharing what we’ve got up our sleeves.  This is the first post in our tutorial series on how to create a Nautical nursery of your very own.

Look at all of those signal flags.

This is the ship I served on when I was in the Navy.  We were pulling into NYC for Fleet Week in this photo, but take a second to admire the colorful signal flags blowing in the wind.  Maritime signal flags have been in use for a long time, even before radio communications were available.  Each flag means something, and they can be flown in different combinations to communicate with other vessels.

Image courtesy of CelebrationFlags.com

I was perusing Etsy looking for Nautical themed items for the Clutterbaby’s room.  If I was crafty, I would sew him some signal flags . .  . but I’m not crafty.  Not even a little bit.

The problem I was running into was that many items have sailboats on them.  We are a Navy family, which is why we want a nautical theme, but we really don’t like sailing.  I did come across these amazing prints of various signal flags and their meanings.

Awesome. Please check out Bexpert's Etsy store if you're interested!

The only issue is that they’re roughly 8″x10″, and I was looking for something a little smaller.  I also wanted to spell out Clutterbaby’s name, or at least his initials.  These are a little too large for my wall space.  I might buy a couple for our living room at some point because I love them, but for now I had to come up with a DIY alternative for the nursery.  She’s also in the UK and I live in Japan, so I guess it just wasn’t meant to be.

I found a frame in the back of the closet with spot for two 4″x6″ photos, and dug out two pieces of 4″x6″ photo paper.  Photoshop and I were about to be become very good friends.

Keep in mind that there's a lot of work involved when I say "found" and "dug out."

I decided that I would make 2 small pictures with my son’s initials.  A quick Google search helped me find the images below, as well as the exact meanings of the flags.

"MIKE." My vessel is stopped and making no way through water.

"LIMA." You should stop your vessel instantly.

I decided not to make it exactly like Bexpert’s, but tweaked the basic idea a little.

1)  I started with a 4″x6″ Photoshop canvas, and added the title.
2)  Then I added the signal flag, as well as the letter it represents.  I decided to match the color of the font to the flag.
3)  I added text with the flag meaning and spaced it around everything else until it looked “right.”
I decided to switch the position of the flag and the letter for the other initial.  I want them to coordinate, but not match exactly.

I printed them on photo paper and popped them into my frame and voila!  Since I already had the frame and photo paper lying around Clutterhome, it was free nursery art!  Photos to come during the big DIY Nautical Nursery Reveal.

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Foodie Friday! Reese’s ClutterCake

I knew what I was making for this week’s desert the moment I set my eyes on this bad boy from I Sew, Do You?.

Mmmm

However, on my almost daily trip to the grocery store (I’m not good at shopping all at once) I found that they didn’t carry Reese’s Pieces.  I was heartbroken, to say the least, so I wandered around a bit and decided I was going to make up my own version of a Reese’s Cake.

I’m not much for fancy cookin’.  I just had a microwaveable lunch (that I also picked up today on my daily grocery store run), and will probably eat something just as low maintenance for supper.

But I am one for “fancying up” simple recipes and pretending like I did some real cooking.  Work smarter, not harder!  Here is the Reese’s ClutterCake that I came up with:

Ingredients!

I’m not a brand snob.  If I had the option of buying generic brand, I absolutely would.  But I live overseas and, though I am adventurous with trying food, I enjoy the comfort of American products and my selection is limited.  I opted for the Duncan Hines because the cake came with a $0.35 cent coupon for the frosting.  ClutterHubs would be so proud!

Step 1) Make your cake!  If you’re like me (lazy), you might try the Cluttermethod of cooling cakes.  I let the pan cool for about 10 minutes and then stick that puppy in the freezer so it cools off quickly.  Patience is a wonderful thing, but God must’ve figured He had already blessed me with so much that He just went ahead and left that one out.  Don’t stick it directly in the cold after removing it from the oven, though.  That’s too much of a temperature difference too quickly and things could explode.  So I’ve read, anyway.

Step 2)  While your cake is in the freezer cooling, mix up your frosting.

Dump your frosting in a bowl. I used CHOCOLATE. Mix in some peanut butter. I used around a cup (I guess), but it's really a taste thing. Go with your tastebuds and you won't be wrong.

I used a hand mixer, but everything is nice and soft so you can probably just stir it.  It looks really creamy once it’s all mixed together.

Ohhhh, I just LOVE chocolate and peanut butter!

I was going to just frost it in the pan, but I realized I would have a lot of extra frosting.  So, I tried to be fancy and slice it into layers to add more CHOCOLATE AND PEANUT BUTTER.  It was super crooked.  Guess who cares?  Not Clutterholic!

Make sure you slice yours crooked, too. Otherwise it's not a true ClutterCake.

But do you see what I was going for?  Sort of a frosting and cake “sandwich.”

Wow, it just gets uglier and uglier! But tastier, too!

Step 3 (or 4 if you sliced and diced):  Frost your cake!  It was hard for me to spread, so I stuck it in the microwave for about 30 seconds.

Next, slice your Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups and generously sprinkle them on top of your ClutterCake.

Too sweet? No such thing!

Have a slice and enjoy the fruits of your labor.  You probably won’t even be able to tell how crooked you sliced it to make your “sandwich.”

It's ain't pretty, but it's GOOD. And that's what cake is all about.

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Crafts for the Uncrafty: Decoupage

Ever since I saw this picture on Pinteret, I’ve been wanting to make a similar one.  For us, home changes every couple of years (4 in the last 5 years), so in our world it’s more of a “Home is where the Navy sends you.”

Image from Pinterest.com

I looked online to see if I could order only the Scrabble pieces that I needed, but it would have cost me roughly $15 plus shipping and handling.  I opted to just purchase the game for $13 instead.  It was a financially responsible move on my part (and those are rare!), but I also have enough pieces left over to spell my son and our two Clutterdogs’s names.  Bonus:  I can make this later (also found on Pinterest).

So if you find yourself some Scrabble pieces, this Uncraft is completely personalizable.  You could make a picture frame, a fun box for storing trinkets, or even a cute desk nameplate.  The sky’s the limit here, Clutterfans!

Supplies!

You will need:

1)  Something to serve as a base.  I used a blank canvas I bought over a year ago for a craft I never did.  How Clutterholic of me to pack it up and move it 10,000 miles with me.

2)  Scrabble pieces.  You could probably substitute magazine letters for an awesome ransom note cut & paste effect.

3)  Pretty paper or pictures to glue decoupage onto  your base.  (Did y’all know those pretty much mean the same thing?)

4)  Scissors and something to measure with if you’re going for perfection.

5)  Mod Podge, or you can make your own with equal parts of water and white glue.

6)  Foam brush for applying Mod Podge.

Shh... I had to make an H from a blank tile. Apparently Scrabble only comes with 2 H's.

Cut your paper and lay it out how you would like to apply it to your base.  I chose to use origami paper (60 sheets for $1, not too shabby) and made it into a quilt pattern.  Dip your brush into your Mod Podge and . . .

Easy peasy.

Wipe and smear it all over your base!  Stick your paper on in whatever design you came up with.

Wipey, smeary, sticky.

Smooth out as many wrinkles as you can (I skipped this step, oops), and cover the top of your paper with Mod Podge.  Fold the edges over and glue them in place.

Smoothy, foldy, gluey.

I did my corners like I was wrapping a present.  I love presents!  I made a flap, tucked it around the corner, and Mod Podged the life out of it.

Flappy, tucky, Mod-Podgey.

After the first layer of Mod Podge dried, I applied a second coat and stuck on my Scrabble letters.

I knew I wouldn't be able to get them on straight, so I went with a Clutterific and kind of lopside look. It's our Clutterhome way.

Viola!  It’s exactly what I was going for:  colorful, fun, and kind of tacky!  I’m going to hang it in my laundry room because that place needs some cheering up.  It might even inspire me to actually DO some laundry . . .

I love it! Wrinkles, homemade H and all!

Don’t forget!  I’ll be Guest Clutterblogging on Sugar in My Grits for the:

May 23- Life as a Clutterwife in Japan.  Read first hand how I’ve learned to adapt and overcome and really ENJOY life in Japan as a military spouse and SAH(almost)M.

May 29-Crafts for the Uncrafty (because you know that’s me!):  DIY Nautical Crafts for the Home 

And be sure to check out Sugar in my Grits over the next couple of weeks for some really interesting posts from military spouses around the world!  There will be some awesome giveaways, so keep your eyes open for those babies, too!

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