I Got Crafty

September 7, 2010

When I started MarthaAndMe, I was doing Martha’s crafts. For the first year, I did quite a few crafts. Once the year was over though, I stopped doing as many. I’m not very crafty at all and I learned that forcing myself to be something I wasn’t just made me cranky. I may not be crafty, but I am creative, and every once in a while I have a fit of creativity. It usually isn’t neat and it often doesn’t turn out as I’d hoped, but it’s almost always fun when it’s something I really want to do.

I’ve had this one in my head for quite a while. Several years ago I caught some unknown show on HGTV and one thing they did was wallpaper a basement staircase with maps. Well, that got me thinking. I have a fascination with maps. It all started in my grandparents’ basement. Gai and Papa traveled to every continent except Antartica and tracked their journeys on a map in their basement, next to the pool table. They did these journeys before I was born, or at least before I can remember, although Gai often talked about them. She’s the one who gave me the travel bug.

I used to spend special time in that basement, playing pool with Papa and gazing at that map. When Gai passed away (several years after Papa) last year, one of the many things I inherited was that map. It now hangs on our basement staircase, and it inspired me to frame my own map, which Mr. MarthaAndMe and I put thumbtacks in to mark where we’ve gone on our trips.

I love that map, but I still am map crazy and I’ve never been able to get that HGTV episode out of my head. Some of the doors in our house have these huge combination locks in them. The previous owner was worried about his own son stealing things, so he installed them on three doors in the house. One of them is the basement door. Now these locks are quite old and operate with numbers you push. One day one of the kids was horsing around with the one on the basement door and got it locked shut (said child was fortunately not in the basement, but on the upstairs side of the door) and it became stuck with the deadbolt in the frame and the combination part just frozen. Mr. MarthaAndMe tried everything, but finally decided the best solution was just to get the lock out of the door. This left two round holes – one about a 3 inch diameter and the other a one inch.

I considered patching the holes, but we’ve never been able to adequately match the paint color on our interior doors, so that was a whole ball of wax I didn’t want to get into. Then it hit me – I could cover the door with maps!

I never let go of this idea and finally, this past weekend, I did it! Mr. MarthaAndMe shoved some wood in the holes to fill them pretty much. Then I went to work. I went to AAA and got free maps of all the places we’ve been. I also had some maps around here and I printed some small maps online. I attached the maps with Mod Podge. Now, it didn’t go perfectly. There are some lumps, creases and bumps, but early in the process I decided I just didn’t care. I layered and collaged the maps and covered one side of the door (I’ll do the other side after we’ve traveled some more!). Then I did another coat of Mod Podge on top. Once this is all completely dry, I’m going to put a coat of polyurethane over it all to completely seal it.

I’m actually pretty proud of this. It’s in an out of the way place in the house (in the laundry room and you can’t see it unless you stand right in front of it), so it’s not a huge glaring thing, but is instead kind of a quirky little surprise I think. I am really happy with how it turned out. It’s right by the door to the dog yard, so while we are standing there waiting for our slow poke dogs, we have something to look at. I’ll probably kick myself in 30 years when we try to sell the house, but for now I’m thrilled with it!

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Martha Mondays: Crayon Hearts

February 8, 2010

Today’s Martha Monday’s project was chosen by Lyndsey at Tiny Skillet. The project is crayon hearts and it’s perfect for a Valentine’s Day craft to do with your kids.

You take a piece of waxed paper and fold it in half lengthwise, then open it up and place crayon shavings on half of it. Making all those crayon shavings took forever! They kept jamming up the pencil sharpener I was using. I tried using a vegetable peeler but that didn’t make the nice curly shavings.

Once you have enough, you fold the paper back up, and fold the edges to hold it in. Iron it between sheets of craft paper (I used parchment). Let it cool, then cut out heart shapes from it. Martha says to hang them using thread, but we just used tiny dabs of museum gel to stick them to the kitchen windows. They really are pretty and look like suncatchers. The key is to use lots of different shades of pink and red crayons. Spread the shavings out in a very thin layer. In places where mine were thick, the hearts did not cut out well, and the waxed paper peeled off a little.

This is easy and very family-friendly and is a cute project to make for Valentine’s Day.

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Martha Mondays: 2/8

February 2, 2010

The Martha Mondays project for 2/8 is crayon hearts, chosen by Lyndsey at Tiny Skillet. Sounds like a great project for Valentine’s Day!

Martha Mondays: Postcards

February 1, 2010

I used to love to send postcards when I was a kid. I always sent them to my grandmother, who stuck them into random pages of her cookbooks. She always said she liked to happen upon them in the future. When she died, we found lots of them in her cookbooks.

This week’s Martha Mondays project, chosen by  Sarah at Mum in Bloom, is to make your own postcards. The project is very simple. Print out the template for the back of the postcard and glue it onto the back of a 4×6 photo. The photo I used is one we took on the shores of Loch Ness this past summer.

Here’s a little secret. You don’t even really need to print out the template. You can simply mail a photo if you write the address on the right hand side and leave a place for the stamp. In fact, you can mail all sorts of weird things. There’s a whole little business surrounding this in Florida, where we go every spring. We have mailed a whole coconut (no packaging, just a label), a flip flop (again, just a label) and a plastic bottle with a note in it (label glued on the outside), all sold in gift shops down there.

My aunt, who was postmaster of her town, used to mail her own photos as postcards often (without any backing glued on) while on vacation.  If you’ve got a printer with you, this is a great way to send personalized postcards for very little cost. I have to say I always do like to look through postcards though wherever we are. I like to see what photos are being used. I have some blank postcards I bought as a child and now have all the ones  I sent my grandmother and they are interesting to look through.

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Crafty for Valentine’s Day!

January 20, 2010

Spray on glue

Woot-woot! I did a Martha craft and it went really well!! Ok, here’s the scoop. In March Living, Martha suggests embellishing roses with glitter. She shows two methods. In method one, you mix 3 oz of water with 4-5 squirts of craft glue. Mix it up and spray it on a rose from 8 inches away. Sprinkle glitter over the rose and shake it off. This went well for me. The only tip I would offer is to use roses are not tightly closed. It’s hard to get glitter down in it if it is.

Method number two involves using glue that has an applicator tip. You’re supposed to trace glue around the edges of the petals. Well, I didn’t have an

Directly applied glue

applicator tip. My glue had a brush in it (just like the rubber cement we used to in art class – that took me back!) so I brushed it on gently and then sprinkled the glitter.

It really worked! I was tickled pink (get it?). Now, the question is would I really ever do this? Um, no, probably not. I think roses are beautiful by themselves and adding glitter is sort of tacky. I did say to Mr. MarthaAndMe that this might be something sort of fun to do for a centerpiece for a party if you wanted something a little glitzy and exciting, so I can see doing it in that setting. Maybe white roses with silver glitter for New Year’s Eve.

You can see I used pink roses. That’s a rule in our house. I don’t do red. Period. So Mr. MarthaAndMe has been trained to only bring home pink roses for Valentine’s Day.

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Martha Mondays: Mercury Glass

January 11, 2010

Today’s Martha Mondays project was chosen by Teresa at Homemade Iowa Life. The project is homemade mercury glass, from page of January Martha Stewart Living.

I love mercury glass, so this was exciting. Martha makes it sounds very simple (of course! It’s all simple to Martha). The first hurdle was buying what I needed. I bought a very inexpensive glass vase for $1.99. Finding the mirror paint was a problem. Martha references Krylon.com, however there wasn’t time to order this. I scoured local craft and home improvement stores. None of them had Krylon mirror paint (or looking glass paint, as it seems to say on the bottle in the photo in the magazine). I ended up buying chrome paint, which is close, but obviously not the same thing. Sigh. I paid $3.99 for a small size can of this.

Mr. MarthaAndMe assisted with this project as always. We wrapped paper around the vase and taped it. Then we sprayed the inside with water and next with the spray paint. We let it sit upside down on a drying rack overnight.

I removed the paper the next morning. It did do what it was supposed to, which is mostly cover the inside but not completely. However, I could definitely tell this was chrome, not mirror paint. If I had had mirror paint, I think the results would have been great. As it is, it’s just ok. So I’ll give this project a thumbs up, providing you can find the correct paint!

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Martha Mondays: Picture Frame Ornaments

November 30, 2009

This week’s project was picture frame ornaments, chosen by MaryAnn at Stirrin It Up.

This is a really simple craft that would be great to do with kids. You print out the template, trace onto card stock and them glue and glitter them, after punching a hole at the top. Once the glitter dries, you make a cut out in one of them and glue a photo in it and then glue the back on. Very, very easy. Even I could do it.

In full disclosure I used Martha’s glitter glue and glitter that they sent me. I have to say I was quite pleased with the quality of both. The glitter glue has a brush attached inside the lid – just like rubber cement jars and I found that to be very convenient. Martha’s glitter was, as always, very nice.

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Merry Martha HANDMADE Gift Guide

November 25, 2009

If your holiday budget is small this year, you might be wondering if there are any handmade gifts you could make, even if you aren’t a gifted crafter. Martha to the rescue! I’ve collected my 10 favorite handmade gift projects that even the most craft-impaired person can make. So while the rest of the world is out fighting the crowds on Black Friday, why not enjoy a quiet day at home and work on some low-cost DIY gifts with Martha?

1. Decal Candles. This craft is ridiculously easy and Martha even provides the templates.

2. Bath Fizzies. Cute and easy to make. What woman wouldn’t enjoy receiving these?

3. Velvet Ribbon Belts. Who wouldn’t love a fab new belt?

4. Map Coasters. I made these and they were actually quite easy. Perfect for a man or a woman, and easy to personalize with maps from their favorite vacation spot, cabin, or even where they honeymooned.

5. Photograph jewelry. Any gift that involves buying something and sticking a photo in it is doable for even the most craft-impaired. You know you can make any mom or grandma misty eyed with this kind of gift.

6. Stenciled Stool. Stenciling is a quick way to dress up a child’s stool, and a stool is a gift a young child will use every day at the bathroom sink.

7. Holiday Drink Mixers. Just mix and give – no crafting required! This is a gift that says “invite me to your next party.”

8. Pecan Clusters. You can’t go wrong with candy and these are classier than homemade fudge any day. Sneak a couple for yourself.

9. Popcorn tins. This all-purpose gift is even less expensive when you make your own at home. There are many yummy options available.

10. Organza Sachets. This is a great project for kids to work on with you or do on their own with a little guidance.

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Martha Mondays: Suet Birdfeeders

November 23, 2009

This week’s Martha Mondays was my pick – suet birdfeeders from November Living. Let me say I am so, so, sorry. If you made this and it stunk up your house as badly as it did mine, I apologize. I think this is truly the nastiest Martha thing I’ve ever made. My grocery store did not have suet so I ended up at a butcher. Mr. MarthaAndMe chopped it up for me since I was grossed out by it. The directions say to render this until it liquifies. It seemed to me like that would be pretty simple but it wasn’t. It took FOREVER, it smelled horrible, and I was not sure when it was actually done. There were lots of chunks of stuff still floating around in the liquid fat, but it was starting to burn. I pulled the plug and strained it.

Martha says you have to strain it with cheesecloth – I just used a sieve. Then you have to let it harden, then melt it and strain it again. Can I just say, this seems like a LOT of work for birds. Seriously, can you see Martha taking an entire afternoon to make these birdfeeders? I think not. I’m sure she buys them from someone who makes organic artisan suet birdfeeders or something.

So I did let it harden and liquify it again, but I confess I did not strain it the second time – there was nothing in it to strain out. I just did not care enough. I mixed in the sunflower seeds, peanuts and cranberries and we smushed it into plastic containers with string in it and froze it. I actually halved this recipe, but somehow it made 4 containers full. I was a little concerned when about 3 hours after I put it in the freezer it wasn’t sticking together.

I left it in overnight. This morning we checked them and they all seemed loose, but we hoped for the best. We took the most solid one outside and tried to get it out of the container. You can see from the photo that it completely fell apart.

What a mess and what a disappointment. I’m wondering if maybe the butcher didn’t give me enough suet? Maybe I should have kept on cooking it down even though it was on low and was burning? I don’t know what to think, but it sure would be a lot easier to just BUY one of these suet things in the store for $2 than to spend this much time horsing around and ending up with such a mess!

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A Merry Martha Gift Guide

November 18, 2009

I decided to put together a Martha Stewart product gift guide. You don’t have to be a Martha fan to appreciate the things she sells. Martha could probably fill an entire store with her products at this point, so my challenge was to isolate just ten to recommend to you this holiday season. Check the list out for things you might want for yourself, hostess gifts, and presents for the ones you love!

cookie book1.Martha Stewart’s Cookies.  This book will be adored by anyone who likes to bake.  The cookies are organized by texture, which is a new approach, and includes classic recipes (peanut crisps, shortbread and snickerdoodles) as well as more adventurous kinds (bratseli, cornmeal thyme cookies, and Earl Grey cookies). $24.95

glue pen2. Fine Tip Glue Pen.  This is a great idea for anyone who crafts, has kids, or has lots of fun office supplies.  This dual purpose glue can be used wet for a traditional glue or once the applied glue has dried for a tacky, temporary stick. It’s a bargain at $3.06.

3. Glitter. Martha Stewart is now probably one of theglitter biggest purveyors of glitter – she has over 100 colors and types. Pick up a pack for crafters or kids. The glitter is excellent quality and the shades of color available are just astounding. $15.95 for a 12 pack.

towels4. Tropical Toile Kitchen Towels. These are perfect for a hostess gift.  The vintage look of these towels means your grandma will like them and so will your newly married cousin.  $8.99 for a 3-pack.

4. Trousseau Pillowcase Box Gift Set.  Beautifully pilllowedged heirloom quality pillowcases will make a welcome gift for anyone. Choose from lace, scallop or delicate blue edging. Because they’re white, they will match any sheet set and the 300 thread count means they will feel luxurious to weary heads. $29.99 for 2 pillow cases.

wedgewood5. Wedgwood French Knot Beverage Pot in Gold. What’s a gift list without a bit of luxury? Martha has her own line of Wedgewood dinnerware, and this elegant coffeepot/teapot is the perfect gift for the woman who has everything. Its delicate design will complement any china pattern and will identify her as a woman of class and taste. $189.

6. Asian Strainer. A fabulous stocking stuffer that will be asian strainerwelcome in any kitchen, this kitchen tool is bigger, lighter and more functional than a slotted spoon and is perfect for scooping veggies or ravioli out of boiling water. $7.99.

recipe7. Magnetic Recipe Divider. You’ve decided to cut your aunt’s cookie recipe in half, but what’s half of a 1/3 of a cup? Take the guessing out of reducing recipes and buy your Secret Santa this magnetic doohicky that does it all for her!  $9.99.

8. Counting Baby Quilt. For the mom-to-be or the new quiltbaby in your life, Martha’s 100% cotton quilt will be a cherished gift whether it is used as bedding or hung on a wall with the attached rod pocket loops. $79.99

cake plate9. Whiteware Cake Stand. Whether you choose round or square, these elegant cake stands will make any cake look like a gourmet treat.  Select 8″, 10″ or 12″ for $22 to $42.

10. Petite Hydrangea Plant.  Send this to your friends and family who won’t be coming home for Christmas (and maybe send one to yourself too!). Martha’s 1-800-Flowers collection includes these lovely live plants, in pink or purple, which will last much longer than hydrangeaa cut flower arrangement and can be planted in the garden come spring, for years of enjoyment. $39.95

Looking for other great gift ideas? Here is a round up of some other terrific gift guides:

Gifts for dogs and dog lovers

Irish music

Gifts for travelers who read

Gifts for travelers

Gifts from paradise

Foodie gifts under $20

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