We spent some time over the last few days decorating Easter eggs. It’s so neat that Liv is at an age where these types of mommy/daughter craft projects are fun and exciting for her. She’s still not as hands on as I’m sure she’ll be when she’s just a little bit older, but she helped me choose colors, paint, apply stencils and dab glue for all of the different techniques we played around with.
Such a cutie! She loved the entire process and didn’t question the idea of coloring and displaying hard boiled eggs that we would normally have for lunch – but I’m sure there are much odder oddities in life for a two-year-old.
Looking over our little assortment of finished eggs, I’d have to say that this year’s theme was all about the gold.
Gold leafing, gold marbling, gold stenciling… subconsciously I was clearly tying recent home decisions into Easter decorating .
So I have about five-ish ideas to share today (with a few bonus finds here and there), but before getting into any of the specific techniques that we tried out, step one was to dye the eggs.
We dyed 18 in total and used Wilton food coloring (because that’s what I had on hand, though any ole’ dye works great) to create an assortment of blue, teal, pink and yellow eggs.
Each of the four little plastic cups that I set out received 2 tb white vinegar, a cup or so of hot water, plus the various dye colors.
I read about a styrofoam block + toothpick egg drying rack from this article here – brilliant!
A couple of minutes submerged in the dye/vinegar/water mixture will yield soft colors, more time = more saturation.
We opted for mostly lighter, more pastel colors and that little speckled effect on the pink eggs was a happy accident. More on that soon.
When the above began to get a little tedious (a toddler only has so much attention), we sped up the process with stove top bulk dying.
We bulk dyed much of the teal colors, they were definitely my favorite!
Alright, let’s get down to the nitty gritty on a few of these techniques because these were so fun to play with.
The first is a faux marble with gold craft paint using two different tools: sponge brush or paper towel.
A little dabbing/blotting and your eggs take on a most unique effect. I love these! Quick and simple.
Next up, stenciling. Using the same gold craft paint, I found a package of gloss enamel Americana reusable stencils at Michaels that were made out of decal-type paper (which is incredibly flexible and can wrap around an egg, plus has a sticky side to help adhere stencil temporarily) and used a sponge brush to lightly fill in the various floral designs.
By default, we discovered that if we messed up and wanted to start over, wiping off the paint will actually pull up some of the dye as well, creating a neat tinted/washed effect where the painted florals once had be.
Side note: some of our eggs came out with a tie-dye, dotted explosion look and I discovered that this happened when our gel dye did not completely dissolve in the hot water + vinegar mixture. But it’s actually pretty cool looking!
When I came across this idea on Pinterest, I was smitten. Had to try my own version of gold leafing eggs! Here are the steps that I used for the effect, though if you’re on the hunt for more detailed instructions, check out the original full post.
Rather than a leafing adhesive, I went the inexpensive route and applied Elmer’s glue in dabs and blots and swirls. Next up was lightly covering the egg in a half sheet of gold leaf (straight from the craft store) and then gently rubbing at the leafing until only the areas with glue adhered. Slowly an organic, smudged-gold leaf design emerged.
If you decide to give this a go, play around with the final look and different mediums to enhance the gold effect. To blur the lines between gold leaf and egg, I added a bit of gold paint to a couple of the eggs with a sponge. One more unique look.
My favorite effect of the day included a combination of stenciling and leafing (see floral egg at the very front below).
Using a stencil as my guide, I gently applied leafing and gold craft paint to the egg and then slowwwwly pulled the stencil up and off.
Probably the trickiest technique of the day, but with a little patience and a little creativity (try a sharp x-acto knife or your fingernail if leafing sticks to stencil) these guys are so pretty.
I wish I had blown out the white and yolk of some of these eggs so that they would last a lot longer than just this week… but maybe next year. If I were trying to preserve my designs I would also coat each of these eggs in some sort of spray seal or varnish.
Just one week until Easter! These will be fun eggs for the Easter bunny to hide .
Just for fun, a picture of Olivia from Easter last year. Oh my goodness, heart is melting.
PS More Easter ideas here
Tags: Crafty Solutions, Decorating, DIY, Easter, Tutorial
Posted in Crafty Solutions, DIY, Family & Friends, Holidays, Olivia | 4 Comments »
It’s been a while since we revisited the dining room, but I’ve been in the mood to inject some color into our home this spring (and pink, of all colors!) and this particular room was high on my list. We’ve had a wall in this space that for some time has needed one BIG piece of artwork. Something colorful and whimsical and oversized, a piece that would ‘pop’ with beautiful color.
But finding large artwork at a reasonable price is tough! I initially was on the hunt for a big piece of canvas art to add texture to the wall, but I soon realized that purchasing a piece that big (even if I saved my pennies for months) was not in the cards (though there are some really fabulous artists out there – I’ll try to get a post together on options). I patrolled Etsy and Art.com and every online shop in between. My mother-in-law gave me a huge 30×40″ canvas so that I could give creating my own abstract art a go – but then I found a piece that I fell for (that canvas will have to find another great spot in the house!).
Minted came on as a blog sponsor right about the time that I was giving up, and Minted’s print selection is over the moon fabulous! After searching through their beautiful selection, I fell in love with a print by Kelli Hall called Ligurian Houses. It was the perfect mixture of abstract, colorful, whimsical… it would fit the space perfectly.
Instead of framing the entire poster as it’s seen on Minted, I actually ordered the print in a much larger size than needed and then cut the poster down so that just the colorful artwork was visible. This is a great trick for any poster-style artwork, no need to frame the entire piece if there’s one particular portion that you love.
When the print (on a really thick, museum quality archival cotton rag paper) arrived, it was HUGE. I could have wallpapered the dining room wall with it.
When it came to framing, I was on the search for an economical solution, but one that would still look professional and great hanging there on that big ole wall. My favorite Ikea poster frames were just a few inches too long, and I considered breaking one apart as I did here but then decided that spending a little extra to have the right size made was probably worth the longevity of this image.
The most affordable route that I could find? Americanframes.com. I was especially happy that they offered to pop six frame samples into the mail before I ordered so that I could compare the different finishes and wood before making such a big purchase at about $85 sans the white matte.
I ended up settling on this natural frame because it matched well with the Ikea framed butterfly and dragonfly, and was the most inexpensive of the bunch.
It felt like an eternity but finally my frame arrived! I spent last night assembling it.
The wood frame came assembled and the backing, acrylic and hardware were in their own separate wrapping. A screwdriver (actually we pulled out the electric screwdriver for tightening the last few clips in place) and hammer later and the artwork was up!
I especially love how it plays so nicely with the new pink additions on the bookshelves in the living room.
I’m playing with adding a few lighter Spring-colored throw pillows into the mix as well. Yay for the arrival of Spring!!
Here’s a link to two additional semi-DIY over-sized pieces of artwork we’ve recently added to the house (and inexpensive solutions, too): ‘canvas’ fabric art for the living room and a black botanical chart for the kitchen.
PPS All dining room makeover posts can be found sorted right here.
Tags: Accessories, Art, Decorating, Dining Room, Home
Posted in Home, Our Living Room, Renovating Adventures | 7 Comments »
About a year ago I wrote a post on tips for traveling with babies and I thought I’d take a moment today to share a few thoughts on how that has transitioned into toddlerhood.
Here we are on the go back when traveling solo was as easy as an ergo! Okay… maybe with a few additional caveats . I travel plenty for work (back and forth from San Diego to a corporate office near San Francisco) and Liv gets to come with every time! It’s wonderful having family in that area.
But now Liv is two and our traveling needs have expanded. As have the tricks up my sleeve.
Traveling with toddlers. It’s one of those things that you can plan for, prepare for, agonize over, but you really don’t know how it will all play out until you’re there sitting on the plane, train or well on your way for a family roadtrip. I’ve been pretty fortunate with Liv, for the most part she’s an all-star traveller with few hiccups over the past two years, 50+ flights and I don’t even know how many miles we’ve logged for work, visiting Grandpas and Grandmas (each set at least a day’s drive away), and for vacation.
I think it’s safe to say that much of travelling is all in the mindset of the parent and what approach you take to packing your kids up to hit the road. If you don’t stress about a journey then it won’t be stressful, if you pretend it’s a necessary part of life your kids will feel that sense of calm and respond appropriately. But if you get overly anxious about an upcoming trip (or even, heaven forbid, avoid planning one because of kids) there’s almost a guaranteed level of wreckless nerves that will get in the way. In these situations, prior proper planning prevents… well, you know how it goes.
Here are also some sneaky tricks that I’ve learned to help make traveling easy, peasy!
1. Preparing for your trip. For kids that don’t travel often, the idea of a big airplane, train or long car trip might be daunting. We have the below Olivia book and Liv loves it. We also frequently point out airplanes and trains and talk about what its like to go on a journey.
2. Time to spare. Give yourself extra time for extra trips to the bathroom or extra long walks to gates, etc. Time is always my best friend. Liv and I have security lines at the airport down pat (take off shoes, pull carseat out of stroller, out comes the laptop from my carryon, snap stroller shut and slide through x-ray, unbuckle Liv, carseat facedown through x-ray…) but sometimes you can’t anticipate the unnecessary gaps and waits and it’s far better to enjoy a Starbucks treat on the other side rather than race (oh we have ran, we have ran. I have played the baby card.).
Now that we have to purchase a seat for Liv I bring our Combi carseat on board (which fits perfectly in our BOB and is the only compact toddler carseat I know that can travel so darn easily. Plus it’s super light. Light carseat is key!) There are so many great carseats brands out there that are very heavy and very difficult to haul around (let along down an airplane aisle solo) but if you have one of those guys, give something like this a try so that you can still pull toddler around the airport and move carseat easily. I’ve also heard great reviews for this product. Be sure to double check that your carseat will fit on the airplane and is one that is FAA certified. I did much research before purchasing the Combi carseat and I am pretty sure it’s the only toddler sized carseat that fits comfortably into a stroller.
If you travel sans a large stroller like we did when we went abroad (we brought this smaller Maclaren with us instead – great travel stroller!) and choose to bag check your carseat, here’s a solution you might try if your child is still under one.
7. When flying internationally, go bulkhead. Call ahead and reserve that sweet little section at the front of each compartment of the plane. You’ll appreciate the extra floor room when they get ancy and want to spread out.
8. Plan around sleeptime. This is awesome for car rides if you have toddler/baby that sleeps easily in the car. We try to time our lengthier car trips for right around 2pm (Liv’s nap) or late at night when I know that the sway of the car will put her fast to sleep. When she wakes up, we’ve made significant progress! Sometimes this works like a charm for plane flights and sometimes it backfires (picture the suuuper tired toddler who just can’t fall asleep – Liv’s only a super plane sleeper if she’s in her carseat or attached to me via an ergo, if she’s flying without either chances are she’ll be awake for the duration).
9. Take advantage of take off. In my experience, the only chance of little one falling asleep while flying is during the assent to 10,000 feet. Use the trip down the runway as a chance to softly sing songs, stroke eyebrows or do whatever else it might take to send baby off to dreamland. As soon as those wheels leave the ground the change in cabin pressure will magically cause eyelids to flutter.
10. Toys are overrated. Sure, a favorite toy or a new novelty game can keep a toddler entertained for a bit, but if you were to pack enough toys to entertain for an entire journey (airport, airplane, car, train, you name it), you’d be lugging around a bag the size of your suitcase. I love the idea of giving little wrapped gifts throughout a long plane flight as a way to distract – but the thought of carrying all of those gifts around on vacation for the flight home sounds like a waste of precious suitcase space.
Instead, I like to let Liv pack her small backpack with her choice of a doll, crayons (triangular crayons can help to keep you from retrieving rolled drawing utensils from under your neighbor’s seat), sticker book (Liv LOVES sticker books, keeps toddlers occupied for a long time), a little ball of playdough in a ziplock bag or an eye-spy game (like Where’s Waldo) for slightly older kids. We pack one or two books as last-ditch resources because they can be read over and over with different made up games to play (searching for animals or squares or the color pink). But the rule is that it all must fit in her backpack.
Very favorite game to pack? Sticker books!! Seriously, airplane/car/train gold.
11. Technology. Let’s face it, regardless of how great we are at keeping our kids from soaking in hours of television on a regular basis at home, travel is the one opportunity to cash in on all of that missed opportunity. I have three short videos on my iPad that Liv gets to look forward to when we travel and she can amazingly watch the same one 5 times without getting bored! As a special treat, sometimes I’ll download a new episode and her eyes light up when she finds it inflight. My favorites: Backyardigans and Blues Clues for toddlers. When she’s a little older with a longer attention span we might move on to Disney or Pixar movies, and maybe even iPad apps. We’ve experimented with headphones and my favorites are anything inexpensive, small, and that fits like a headband over the ears (rather than earbuds).
When we traveled over to Europe, Liv had a five minute attention span for videos. This is when learning how to take pictures with the iPad or playing silly interactive apps can help pass time. We once survived an entire flight just by rereading the safety manual (you know, the plastic one in the back of everyone’s seat) while looking at different pictures, colors and that sort of thing.
12. Last but not least, be kind to other travelers. As much as I love traveling with a toddler, it can be tough to sit next one on a long flight. I usually aim to sit in the middle or the back of the plane (that’s where the rest of the families congregate), watch Liv’s feet vigilantly for accidental kicks to the seat in front of us (you’d be surprised at how few parents catch this, Liv and I have a special ‘legs up!’ rule where she has to keep her legs folded up into her carseat for the trip, otherwise she can’t help but throw an excited kick out when she sees something fun), and quiet voices are a must. There’s nothing like traveling next to a four year old who constantly yells ‘clouds!’ or ‘mom, more juice!’. On crowded flights we often look for nice looking grandmas to share our aisle with, too .
We’ve since kicked the binkie habit, but here’s the little traveler sitting back, relaxing and enjoying the ride.
There you have it! A few thoughts on traveling with a toddlers. I love, LOVE to travel with Liv and her joining our family has not stopped or deterred roadtrips, airplane rides, you name it. We are hoping that travel becomes a natural part of her life.
Posted in Family & Friends, Olivia, Tips & Ideas, Travel, Travel Adventures | 5 Comments »