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Thursday, April 21, 2016

DIY Advent Calendar!

The calendar is made from a 24 pan plastic mini muffin/cupcake container - the containers your muffins come in when you buy them at the grocery store. I believe they might be called "clam shell containers" because of the way they are hinged. like a clam shell. I cut off the top, clean up the edges, and just use the pan. Below are the instructions in pictures and a supply list of what I used is at the bottom:
You have to make template for where the muffin cups are on your muffin container. The method I used was to hold the muffin container up to the window and lay a sheet of paper over it. This is a light table effect. I marked circles were the muffin cups were. 



Cut the circles using your template and swivel blade on a piece of your foam roll. The foam roll will allow the blade to cut through the without getting caught on anything or damaging your work surface.



Use your scissors to snip the "hinges" that are holding the cut circles in place.
Once you have you template done, trace the circles onto the back of your patterned paper. This is the piece that will be the actual calendar.
Now it's time to decide what shape you want your calendar "doors" do be. In this case, they are square but they could be any shape you want. Figure out the size you need to adequately cover the cut circles and also fit across the length of the paper.
You need to make your doors hinged so they open easily. In the photo you see the method I used to scored the doors using my circle cutter and a stylus. The stylus easily fit into the groove for the long oval shape on the template cutter. 
Now you need to stamp your numbers on your doors.
On the back side, tape your 2 sheets of  pattern paper together now.
Line your doors up over your cut circles for placement. An optional step is to round the corners if you are making square doors at this point. I only round the right side of the doors.
Add a strong glue along the hinged edge of the door. I use Glossy Accents because even though it's primary purpose is to add gloss to projects, it is also one of the strongest adhesives I've ever used. In this particular case, you want a strong adhesive to hold the doors in place. Note that if you are using Glossy Accents, know the placement on the calendar before you put glue on the door since it sets/dries pretty quickly.
Using a T-square ruler, line the doors up along the bottom edge of the ruler so they are perfectly straight. Leave the ruler there while you are gluing them down so you are placing them in a straight line along the top edge of the ruler.
Next you need to glue the door to the cut circle. Be sure to not go outside cut circle or they will not be able to open the door! Once you have them all glued, put something heavy on top of it for about an hour so it will flatten everything and not be bumpy/lumpy. The downside to using any liquid products with paper is that it will cause the paper to warp. To way combat the problem is to lay heavy objects on the project to flatten it while it's drying. 
In the meantime, you can cut "door handles". I use velveteen floral ribbon because it's strong and the width of it is the perfect length for the strips I need. Cut off 24 1/2 inch pieces (eyeball it) and then cut off the very end at an angel (see photo for reference). Discard the snipped piece.
After the calendar doors have dried for an hour, add some glue to the end of your door handle without the slant cut.
CAREFULLY lift the door AND the cut circle and slide the door handle under the cut circle. If you are using Glossy Accents, you need to work quickly because this glue sets in about 1 minute. Reference photo below for placement of handles I used. You'll want to put a piece of wax paper or parchment paper under the calendar while you are doing this because some glue might ooze out and get on the surface below. Once you have all the handles in place, you'll want to put something heavy on top of it for about an hour while it dries and to flatten things out and make it look nice again. Lifting the edges of the doors will make things look a little "wonky" so flattening it out is a good idea.
Placement of the door handles. The second sheet of paper that was attached with tape is folded under in this shot just to keep it out of the way.
Now add muffin liners and add your goodies. You should also scroll down a few pictures where I explain that I should have punched holes in the corners of the muffin container at this point but forgot.
It's time to add copious amounts of Zots (glue dots) to your muffin container. You'll need to use a lot of these since they are they only thing holding the face of the calendar to your muffin container. Zots a stronger than the average glue dot so I advise you to use these over another brand. Liquid glue is not recommended because it can leak into spots that you don't want it to and it can also cause the surface of the calendar to be lumpy/bumpy due to the amount you would need to use. Just use loads of Zots all over the surface of the muffin container.



 
This is a roll of Zots.








You'll need to punch a hole in the top 2 corners of muffin container and tie your cord/ribbon. You can actually do this much earlier in the process....I just forgot. So do better than I did.
Crease the bottom of the calendar where it meets the bottom edge of the muffin container and fold it over on top and press it into place. The seam of the 2 sheets of paper that were taped is the bottom/back fold. Press firmly all over so you know the Zots have made contact with the paper.

Flip the calendar over and add Zots to the bottom of the muffin cups now. And fold the back over and press into place.















Using the photo for reference, loop the BACK of the calendar forward being sure to keep the face of the calendar in front. Also be sure to keep your cord/ribbon out the top of the calendar. Clamp each side with binder clamps.






 
Now is the time for liquid glue. The one I used is called Tombow Mono Multi Liquid Glue. I recommend you buy this and use it at this stage. It is very sticky and dries very fast and securely. Zots are not going to do it here. Glossy Accents probably would be fine but it will take longer to dry. I know this works so this is what I use. Fold back your cord/ribbon so it's out of the way temporarily (see picture). Run a line of glue along the top edge. The amount shown in the picture is WAY TOO MUCH. But that's ok. You can take a scrap of paper or something (not your finger....you do not want to get it on your finger because then you will be getting glue on everything you touch!) and spread it along the edge of the paper and thus removing the excess.
Working somewhat quickly, move the binder clips up to the very edge of the paper now and press the glued edge down. Make sure the placement of the cord/ribbon is correct at this point as well. You'll have to hold the edge of the paper for a minute or so and any spots that don't want to stay down. This glue is strong enough and sticky enough that it will hold pretty quickly. Be sure to remove any Tombow glue that oozes out because it dries very tacky and will attract everything little thing and make your project look bad. You can clean off any that oozes out with a napkin while the glue is still wet. It should not leave much residue behind. Once the glue is dry, it's too late! You can try to erase it with an eraser, but it will pick up the color of the eraser and it just ends up being a mess. So remove the ooze while it's wet. Set the calendar aside to dry for a while.




Final product!



Supply List:

X-Acto Basic Shapes Templates (Model# x2017)
X-Acto Swivel Knife (Model# x3253)         
Foam cushioning roll for cutting on (Home Depot)                             
Tombow Mono Multi Liquid Glue (Michael's, Hobby Lobby)
Zots glue dots (Michael's, Hobby Lobby)
2 sheets (minimum) of matching patterned paper
Solid card stock (doors)
Ink pad (coordinating color to pattern paper)                                                      
24 pan muffin container (grocery stores, baking supply stores, online)
Muffin cup liners                                                               
Velveteen floral ribbon (door handles)
Cord/ribbon (hanger)
Martha Stewart Advent calendar stamps (Ebay, Amazon)
Glossy Accents liquid adhesive (Michael's, Hobby Lobby)
T-square ruler
Binder clips
Hole punch
Small tip stylus (Michael's, Hobby Lobby, art supply stores)
Tape
Scissors
Paper cutter/trimmer
Corner rounder (optional) 

Thursday, December 24, 2015

December Daily - Day 24



Snoopy Christmas Cookies!
Time to make Christmas cookies! It's probably hard to tell the scale of these cookies from the picture, but they are 8 inches tall but 4 inches wide - huge! I got the cookie cutter on eBay about 2 years ago and I thought it was a "normal" size cookie cutter. I bid on this one because it was so much less than all the others. I won the bid and was so happy! Then the cutter arrived. What the heck!? It was gigantic. I looked back at all the other cutters and they were 4 inches tall. Then read the description of the one I got. No wonder this one was so much cheaper than the others!! Shame on me for not noticing the size in the description. Scale does not photograph unless you have a ruler or something next to it and it didn't say "x-large" so I thought it was just a standard size. Oh well. Finally after 2 years I got over the disappointment of it all and decided to actually make cookies with this cutter. I have to tell you, big cookies are a pain. My mistake of not reading that description was coming back to haunt me again. They are so fragile due to their size. Normal size cookies are much easier to deal with and not as delicate. First, there is no 8 inch spatula in my house so transferring them to the cookie sheet was a challenge. They wanted to break at the scored spots on the dough (see in photo). I had to do some repair work once they were on the cookie sheet. When you take them out of the oven, it's even more challenging because they will break and there's no way to fix them. Again, a massive spatula would have helped. Half of them broke right out of the oven at those score lines. I had to make a second batch. With the second batch, I just lifted the baked cookies off the cookie sheet on the parchment paper and let them cook right on the parchment they were baked on. It was the only way. Then during decorating, I found out you can only hold these puppies (pardon the pun) at the sides of the dog house. If you hold it at the bottom or.....well, any other place, they will break because they just are not strong enough to bear the weight. I think I made 20 of them and 10 survived. Will not be making these again! But, I do like how they turned out. And it was a learning experience. This is what I learned.

1. Read the description of everything on eBay. 10 times. Then read it again.

2. Big freakin' cookies are a nightmare to make. Don't do it.

3. Spatula size matters.

4. Red food color requires a lot of it or it just looks pink.

5. Buy a box of cute cookies at the store so if you want to give up after half the batch breaks, you can :)


dough on cookie sheet ready to bake
Just out of the oven,

decorated!

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

December Daily - Day 23

My Christmas nails. This is only the second time I've attempted nail stamping and it shows. They look pretty bad, but I'll get better with more practice. It's a Christmas sweater stamping design....I know it's hard to tell since the first and third design are going sideways! :)

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

December Daily - Day 22

At the grocery store....

winter white roses


dad loved egg nog
cheers!
festive springs of pine


















Monday, December 21, 2015

December Daily - Day 21

If you think it's cold where you live or you don't like the weather....just be glad you don't live in Oymyakon, Russia! It's considered the coldest place on earth.

Sunday, December 20, 2015

December Daily - Day 20

My 5 Top Christmas Songs


1. Christmas Vacation - Mavis Staples
     It has to be by Mavis. There are other versions, but
     none are as good as hers. This is the theme song to
     the movie "Christmas Vacation".

2. It Came Upon A Midnight Clear - Anne Murray
     I love this song and the way she sings it. The lyrics
     get me right in the heart.

3. Christmas Canon
     One year I played this song on my laptop on repeat for
     about 3 hours....

4. 2000 Miles - The Pretenders
     If you have never heard it, you are missing out.
     There's a live 1995 version on YouTube you have
     to check out. Awesome.

5. Santa Claus Is Comin' to Town - Bruce Springsteen
     I'm unable to sing this song in the original style. I have to
     sing it like Bruce does. Have to.

Saturday, December 19, 2015

December Daily - Day 19



Apothecary Jars Turned Into Winter Scenes



Things You Will Need:



*Large apothecary or cookie jar
*Camper/trailer ornament
*Miniature flocked pine trees in a few sizes
*Fake snow
*Fake strand of Christmas lights
*Tape
*Micro LED lights strung on a silver wire (cool tone white)
*White styrofoam block (optional)

Before you start, pour some of the snow in a big bowl and set your ornament in it to see if the snow will support it. If it sinks in, you will need a styrofoam block to put under the ornament to support the weight of it. You might have styrofoam from some old packaging that you can just cut a piece from. I found some at work that I cut a 3 inch tall x 2 inch wide block from.

If using, put the styrofoam block in the bottom of the jar and pour in about 3 inches of snow. Put your ornament in and check for proper placement. Add the trees around being sure to look at it through the front of the jar to see how it looks. If the hook attachment on top of the camper ornament is small enough, you can scatter some fake snow on top of it to hide it. Once you have things arranged the way you want, you can add the micro LED lights in the snow. Then run them up the inside of the jar behind one of the trees and out the top. These lights can be unruly but take your time and it will be worth the effort. Wrap the rest of the strand around the top of the jar on the outside. Use tape in concealed places to hold the stand of lights in place. Now add the fake strand of lights at the top inside of the jar affixing the ends with tape.

Turn the LED lights on and you’re done!

Friday, December 18, 2015

December Daily - Day 18


Christmas Eve or Christmas Day Games!


1. Fill a Christmas stocking: Hang stockings and divide into teams. Each team has to race to fill their stocking with spoonfuls of wrapped candy using only one of their hands. The stocking cannot be held and if it falls on the floor, that team is disqualified from the race. Each team member should take a turn dumping a spoonful of candy into the stocking. Race time is 3 minutes. Fullest stocking wins.

2. Gift wrap relay: Pick a judge who will not see the race in progress. Set up assembly lines of boxes, scissors, wrapping paper, ribbon, and tape for each team. Each team member has a task: one cuts paper, one wraps, one tapes, one ties ribbon. Neatness counts! Then race to wrap! The judge will come in when it's over and pick the best wrapped gift. Race time is 5 minutes. Teams have to have gift judged in the condition the box is in when time is up

3. Christmas Carol Charades: Write out well known Christmas Carols and put them in a bowl. Have each person act out the carol they choose.

4. Photo booth: Provide silly props and backdrop to take silly photos in front of. These pictures will be looked back on for years to come! An idea for a backdrop to use is a very large disposable table cloth that has a festive print on it. You can often find silly ones that are child themed. Tape it to a wall. If there isn't room in your house, consider doing it outside. A garage door would be perfect. Silly prop ideas would be elf ears, blinking or glittery eyeglasses, santa beard, canes wrapped to look like candy canes, bow ties,  mustaches, hats of all kinds, 2 signs with "naughty" and "nice" written on each one.

5. Two truths and a lie: Each person tells three stories about themselves. Two are true and one is not. Tell them about this a few hours before you play so they can be thinking about it. They should not share their stories with others. With family, this is especially difficult for the truth stories because family knows each other so well. For truths, give them the idea to think back to school, work or things that happened when they were alone. For the lie, tell them to think of things that happened to other people that their family does not know. Also, the stories do not have to be elaborate. Examples:

Truth: I received a random act of kindness - someone taped a $1 bill on a vending machine for the next person.

Truth: I ate a donut and the very last bite had a hair it in. So gross.

Lie: I got so drunk that I forgot to take my pants down before I went pee.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

December Daily - Day 17


AN OPEN LETTER TO SAINT NICk

Hi Santa, it's me...the girl who always imagined you had white glitter sprinkled in your beard. Do you remember me? I'm pretty sure I was on the nice list every year. Well, except maybe that year I flung mud into Mrs. Tompson's kitchen window when I was 10. But in my Defence, it wasn't my idea and we didn't know the window was open. we just thought the mud was hitting the screen and stopping there. Anyway, I'm hoping my years of good behavior since then have made up for that. I'M writing to ask for a special Christmas wish. this year has been challenging in different ways. I understand that if life was easy, it would not make us into strong capable people. I just know that the new year is going to bring more challenges and possibly conflict. I'm asking that you deliver some of that Christmas magic to my house and those around me so that we can get through it just a bit easier. If that's not possible, THEN maybe a few bottles of that Lambrusco wine I like to help me through the rough patches.

Yours Eternally,
Kittenatplay

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

December Daily - Day 16

Have not been having the best week so my wonderful husband surprised me with this :) It's full of chai. Nothing better than a chai latte to make things better.