Friday, December 20, 2013

It's All in the Perception

I was crafty again ladies and germs (there's probably only one of you who will continue reading at this point though)!  Are you excited??
Over a year ago I posted a stupid game to my Facebook feed that suggested that I'd make a hand made gift for the first 5 people who responded.  I only recently followed through with my last one (I think).  Procrastinator much?  Frankly I was hoping she'd forget.  But who was I kidding?  A free anything for Natalie?  There is no WAY she'd forget.  And she's reminded me of it incessantly for the past 6 months or so.   
It took me a little while to think of something to make her that I hadn't already done.  New things keep me interested.  And I came up with transforming an old ornate picture frame into a serving tray.  So off to Goodwill I went and put my hands on an ugly gold leaf frame and then I came home and went to town. 
Here's the list of stuff you'll need.  Some of it you may already have on hand. 
  • A picture frame wide enough to accomodate a handle.
  • Two matching drawer pulls
  • Glossy paint
  • Modge Podge
  • Photos and/or pretty paper
  • A sponge brush
Now the simple directions...

First I painted the frame glossy black.  Black goes with everything and in this particular case I don't know what colours Natalie has decorated her house in or what her style is so it's best to play it safe.  I did two coats to make sure it was even. 

Then I had Eric drill through the two sides to accomodate the drawer pulls I've had in my possession since I scored them for free at a garage sale (knowing one day they would come in handy). 

Then I took the backing of the original picture and modge podged a bunch of photos I stole off of Natalie's Facebook page of her, her spouse, their super adorable baby and their pups, onto it - all collage like.  Then I applied a layer of modge podge over top for added protection.  The glass from the frame will help but in case some liquid spills and seeps underneath, the pictures are also protected. 

Then I reapplied the back and covered it all with some scrap book paper using modge podge.  Et viola!  A new serving tray with some personal touches.  It's a relatively easy craft that you could do with a slightly older child as a gift for a grandparent.  So there's another idea for you, get crafting! 


I Almost Believe That They're Real...

On Monday I was finishing up one of my nephew Sebastian's Christmas presents.  He loves getting a box of pictures; be it superheroes, characters from his favourite films and shows or family members, so I printed a bunch off and laminated them all for added longevity and protection.  The last bunch of photos I printed were family ones.  And as I sat there waiting for them to pass through the laminator, I found myself reminiscing about the specific moments captured in time with these photos. 

Of course I included snapshots of my dad in with the lot, and while I was glancing through, it dawned on me that it's going on three years since I last spoke to my dad.  While I know in my head what the anniversary is, in my heart at this exact moment while looking at his face,  I just didn't feel like that much time had gone by.  While I was looking through the photos it felt like I had just seen him...just talked to him.  Immediately the contents of that particular night captured in this picture came flooding back.  For crying out loud, I remember actual conversations from when that photo was taken.  And I think those memories fooled me into feeling like I'd just seen him.  I think the candid shots do this to me more than the posed formal photos he sat for do.  I'm finding it hard to explain myself with regards to this, I think.  But for a few moments, his death was surreal to me again and the dull throbbing, underlying pain of missing him wasn't there, for in my head I just talked to him.  We just shared some laughs (we had probably just made fun of someone).

It's taken me this long to realize that these photos, these treasures we all take for granted are keeping my memories of my dad a sense keeping him alive.  I still hear his voice when I look at the pictures.  I find it easier, in fact, to hear his voice while I'm looking at the snap shots rather than when I just close my eyes and try to remember.  I've decided I'm going to spend more time looking through my photos of my dad.  The photos that have captured him in a moment, a moment with a story and a memory behind it. 

It's a fitting week to make this discovery, as today is the 64th anniversary of the day he was born.  Today my gift to my dad is to think of him and smile.  And, to remind you all to get out there and live life and in the process snap a bunch of pictures.  Pictures that might make you cringe now, but will make you or someone smile another day.  Pictures of the good, the bad and the ugly.  The real pictures. 

Monday, December 16, 2013

Handsome Little Snow Men

Last year I decided to make some home made Christmas ornaments.  (Psst...follow that link if you want to see how I made cupcake ornaments.)  Any way, since I was finished my Christmas shopping early this year and everything is already wrapped and under the tree I was feeling a little lost.  I was feeling like I should be doing something and if I didn't find something quick to occupy my time with, the odds were strongly in favour of me spending more money on presents I shouldn't be buying.

So I decided to look up more home made Christmas Ornament ideas on Pinterest (Ya ya, I know it's probably redundant by now to even bother mentioning that site - but credit where credit is due.) and I found a bunch of ideas on this site.  There are a couple listed there that I'd like to attempt, but my first choice was the snowmen.  Mainly because I had 5 burnt out light bulbs around my house and all the supplies (Sally Home-maker, I am not!).  So I spent not one new cent on this project.  And I'll have you know, I got razzed for being so cheap that I wouldn't pay two bucks for a box of light bulbs, but I'm saving the environment yo!  Upcycling garbage at its finest right here.

So here's what I used:

  • Burnt out light bulbs (or not burnt out light bulbs if you really hate the environment)
  • Ornament hooks (I took these off of pre-existing ornaments I had with both a hook and string loop)
  • Acrylic Paint (white, black, and orange preferred - but art is so subjective so use what you have)
  • Yarn for the scarves
  • White Sticky Glue (I really feel like that name is redundant.)
  • An old black stretchy glove (because the kids hands have grown and really they don't keep'em warm anyway!)
  • Textured sparkly snow paint (for added effect but most definitely not needed to get desired effect)
  • Buttons (small, tiny ones)
  • Rubbing Alcohol (not sure if Vodka will work or not, but it's worth a shot!  Wacka wacka!) and cotton pads or paper towels
  • Scissors (because your teeth just won't suffice this time)
  • Paintbrushes (different sizes but relatively small overall)

Step one:  Clean the bulb with rubbing alcohol.  Supposedly it helps the paint adhere to the glass better.  I don't know this fact to be true, but I did it none the less and I'm feeling confident about my paint job.

Step two:  Apply a coat of white paint to the entire glass part.  Yes, good luck finding something to hold the bulb after you paint it while it dries.  I cheated.  I held the socket end and used my blow dryer to dry the paint quickly.  I suppose I should have added that to the list of supplies.

Step three:  Apply a second coat of paint.  Repeat with the hair dryer.  I did this 5 times on 5 bulbs.  Two coats seemed to suffice.  You could probably do three but that would be overkill.  And ain't no one got time for that!

Step four:  Cut the finger tips off the mini stretch gloves using scissors.  And apply a coating of Sticky Glue to the entire socket of the bulb.  Then put the socket into the finger tip.  Easier said than done, but by the second one, I'd figured out an easy way of getting the job done without copious amount of glue on my fingers.  Turn the finger tip inside out and stick it on the end of the socket with your finger in the finger tip, then slowly pull the sides down turning it right side out again and covering the glue.

Step five:  While the glue is out, apply two dabs of it to the front of your little man and stick on two buttons.

Step six:  If you plan to use the 'snow paint' apply it now, liberally to the bottom.  Then attack that shit with your hair dryer.  You might as well blow some hot air on your newly glued buttons at the same time.

Step seven:  Use a fine tipped brush and apply the eyes with black paint.  Then using a different brush (because you don't want to have to stop to keep cleaning brushes) paint a sideways slightly tilted orange triangle.  Then paint a little black coal mouth.

Step eight:  Slip an ornament hook through the knitting on the 'hat'.

Step nine:  Using whatever colour of yarn you have on hand (I used four different colours, two strands of each) and braid a mini  'scarf'.  It gets cold hanging around on that tree waiting for Christmas you know!

Step ten:  Apply some sticky glue around the back of the snowman edging down as you come around to the front and stick the scarf right in it!  Then apply a little dab to unite the two ends of the scarf and voila!

I'm not going to lie or be modest here...I'm pretty sure my little snowmen are way better than the ones I got my inspiration from.  But of course I'm sure someone will top these ones too.  This was a relatively easy craft that I started and finished in two hours, tops.  I've already given two away.  I've decided to keep one and pass the other two along.  I'm still debating tackling another idea from that site.  So hold tight, you might get another tutorial!

What are you doing to find your Christmas spirit?

Sunday, December 15, 2013

My Modern Day Superhero

From the moment I became a parent there has rested an underlying fear that my child would walk through life without ease.  That fear was enhanced on his first day of school.  Yes, up until I passed him off to a stranger for a half day of learning he was protected by me in our own little cocoon.  Then the angst that everyone else would like him to the same degree that I loved him set in.  I worried that other kids would be mean to him.  I worried that he would be bullied and have no friends.  Thankfully those fears have proven to be unfounded with Gage.  He was and still is well liked by all.

Growing up he was taught to defend himself at the hands and words of others.  I also expressed to him how important it was to defend his friends if he ever found them to be victims of bullying.  I taught him to use his words first, and when and if that failed, then he was equipped (by his father) to use his hands.  I refused to leave my son as a sitting duck.  He knew that as long as he was defending himself or a friend that I would defend him to the end even if it found me in a Principal's office.  He's had very few minor run ins through the years, thank goodness.  But this past month he found himself in a position that has left me feeling very proud of his actions.

Since he's started at this particular high school (three years ago) there have been a minimum of 2 teenage suicides as a result of bullying.  A couple of weeks ago a casual friend, but more of a friendly acquaintance, who isn't too popular and pretty quiet was being targeted on Facebook by another student.  It was a pretty harsh attack by someone who clearly believed they were a lot tougher on line than I gather they would be face to face.  After a barrage of insults directed at this victim who refused to respond the bully upped the ante and started targeting  homosexuals that ended with a lot of hateful words and death threats about gay people.   At this point Gage (who has gay friends) stepped in.  After the bully turned on Gage, Gage responded with a promise to finish that conversation in person at school the following day.    So he did, but only after taking screen shots of the entire Facebook conversation.

He approached the bully at school and threatened him with bodily harm if this kid ever spoke to the victim, himself or about homosexuals like that again.  He then walked away with nothing physical happening, just a warning.    Yet he was summoned to the principals office the next morning after the bully tattled on Gage for threatening him while 'surrounded' by his group of friends (which wasn't entirely true).  Unbeknownst to the bully and the principal who was prepare to dole out harsh punishment, Gage produced a slew of pictures depicting the bullying and hateful comments this kid made about homosexuals as an explanation to why he threatened this kid.  Needless to say the tune of the principal changed, Gage received a "lecture" about reporting him instead of threatening him (but over all received praise for stepping in and defending a friend) and was requested to email all the photos to the principal.

Later that day Gage wandered past the office to see this 'kid' and his father walking in to meet with the principal and two uniformed police officers.  I'm not sure what sort of punishment this kid got or if the police presence was merely a scare tactic but these ideals and opinions are learned somewhere.  I'm not sure his father will follow through with any sort of punishment.  I myself am so grateful that the ideals and opinions that my son learned were tolerance and respect for everyone regardless of their race, creed, gender or sexual orientation.  I'm so glad he was quick thinking enough to take screen shots because of course by the next day this kid had deleted everything he had written.  My kid made me proud and I still would have been proud had it come down to fisticuffs while defending the rights of homosexuals and the right for a student to go to school without fear.

Is the right answer to bully the bully?  I don't know... that's such a difficult, multi-faceted question with probably varying opinions on what is the best way to handle it.  But I do know this:  the victim knew he wasn't alone.  Someone had his back.  And sometimes that's all the victim needs to know to keep waking up every day and venturing into the abyss that high school can be.   I'm glad for someone, my kid was kind of a hero.