Thursday, March 29, 2012

{How to make} a pinata

This was such a fun project! While I was planning Miley and Bailey'second birthday party I couldn't decide on an activity for the kids....what do you do with a bunch of sugar filled 2 year olds? This of course was before we knew it would be record breaking March tempatures and we would be able to use the bounce house an swing set!

I thought about a pinata but I wasn't thrilled with the idea.I cringe everytime our kis friends have a real pinata. It always seems my kid is going to be the one going home with stitches as she gets closer and closer to the swinging stick. However, for Cadence's 1st birthday we had a pinata that was a pull string..a new concept that I love! If you haven't seen a pull string it's a pinata with a trap door which opens with a string. Each child pulls a string...when a child pulls the secret string the door opens and all the candy comes pouring out. Much better! (I know I know...I'm overprotective!)

Could I make a pinata for them? Nah. I didn't think much about it...till one day I walked into the garage and saw these large pieces of cardboard awaiting the recycling man. I couldn't let them go to waist! So one night while the hubs was on 24 hour duty I decided to try to make my own. I was so incredibly happy with the outcome! I really didn't think it would work, or be that easy. And the best part, it was totally free. Love that.
I'm going to be making more of these for sure...I knew I had to share it! So here ya go!

Gather supplies: large pieces of cardboard (I used boxes), masking tape, crepe paper, glue, pencil, box cutter, scissors, and curling ribbon.

You will also need a zip tie or wire and a rope to hang.

Step 1: Trace out the shape on your cardboard. Mine was about 20 inches tall. Make sure to use a pencil so you can erase and adjust lines until it's just right.

Step 2:  Make sure you lay a layer or two of cardbord down if your cutting inside! Might be best to cut this outside or in the garage...I'm such a risk taker! Then cut out you shape using a box cutter. Yep, I have a pink box cutter. Actually I have an entire pink set of tools :) Remove the 2 and use the outline to trace it on the second piece...don't forget to lay something underneath!

Step 3:  Cut several strips of cardboard about 4.5 inches wide. The length really doesn't matther.

Here's what you should have now.

Step 4: Now you'll begin to the pinata together. I started by placing a piece on the bottom and attachng the strip.

Work your way around the shape. I thought this would be tricky but it was so simple. The cardboard bent really well and didn't put up a fight at all.

Step 5: Once your done with the first side you can lay the second side on and now tape around that. This whole process took me maybe 25 minutes. I couldn't beliv how easy and fast it was.

Here's what you've got now. Not amazingly pretty but we'll get there!
Step 6: Cut out a trap door on the very bottom, mine was about 4 inches. If your making a regular pinata you can skip this step.

Step 7: Tie a know to a long piece of curling ribbon and then tape it to the inside of the door, make sure the knot is towards the back not near the edge...just in case. Wrap the masking tape around the door...this will make it a little tighter fit as well.

Here's what it lookes like.

Step 8: Then cut another little door somewhere on the back of he pinata. This is so you can stash the candy.

Step 8: Now to decorate! Take your your crepe paper and fold it in half. Make the little fringes by cutting 3/4th way to the fold. Don't cut to the fold!  

Step 9: Now you can glue the strips of crepe paper fringe right around the pinata! I used two rows o pink then two rooms of puple and so on. Warning!!! This took FOREVER! You might want to pop in a movie and make some popcorn :) What kept me going...was it looked so incredibly cute!

Step 10: Once you have wrapped it  up in crepe paper there way be a few spots still naked....just do the same thing to cover. My naked spots were on top of the base of the two and under the tip of the curve.

Step 11: With elmers glue attach lots of curling ribbon strips to bottom. You want these to pull off really easy.  You want to hide the "secret" strings. Let them dry for awhile..then cover with crepe paper in the same way.

Step 12: You will need to punch two holes a few inches apart. Then you can slide a zip tie in to create a loop to hang.

And there you go!!!

Now you have an awesome pinata to destroy! ;)

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

{How to make} cookie cutters

Of all the different treats I love to make, cookies continue to be a challenge for me. Although they are probably close to being my favorite to decorate....I'm just not that good at it! Easter always gets me wanting to make cookies...I can't resist all the little chicks, eggs, and bunnies with all the pretty colors! So I recently baked up a ton of rolled sugar cookies to stash in the freezer and work on my cookie skills. So this week I have been working on cookies, cookies, and more cookies!

Next week my girls and I are going to be hosting a PEEPS themed playdate. I adore PEEPS. They were always a sure sign Easter was coming around growing up. I remember first seeing them come out for different holidays (thank you Lord!). But the chick and bunnies will always be at the top :) So I decided to make some PEEPS coookies for the kiddos. I would just have to cover them in sanding sugar just like real PEEPS so I figured it would be an easy project...until I realized I didn't have a cookies cutter that came anywhere near a peeps chick or a bunny. After checking just about every store in town, no full body bunny anything like a PEEPS existed let alone a chubby chick....after searching online I find hobby lobby carries one. But here in New York...we don't have one, BOO. So, I decided it was time I figure out how to make my own cookie cutters.

Belive it or not good cookie cutters are hard to come by. Most stores just carry the same old ones. So many times I have cut a shape by hand or changed my plan to somethig else due to lack of a cutter. So I set out searching the net for how to make a cookie cutter. I gathered up several different ideas to come up with how I felt made the best way to make them. Here it is!

Materials: You will need pipe cleaners, a marker, metal flashing, steel adhesive, clips, tin snips or heavy scissors, tape, a ruler, a template or photo of the picture your trying to replicate, and little items to help you fold and round.

We bought the metal flashing and the steel stick (adhesive) at Lowe's, both were food safe. Make sure you check to see if they are food/water safe. The two items were about 15.00 but I wanted to to really hold up and I will be able to make about 100 cutters from one roll. If your just trying to make it a one time thing you can use a foil pan.

Step 1: First thing you need to do is pick a template of what your trying to make. I got my little chick outline from here and printed it in 3X5 photo size. It was perfect. Remember your cookie will always grow a little while baking.

 Step 2: Take your pipe cleaner and bend it to match the outline. I taped it down here and there to help it keep put.

Step 3: with your marker, mark every spot the sape bends.

Step 4: Remove the pipe cleaner, you can now measure to see how long your metal will need to be.

Step 5: Add about 1/2 inch to your measurement and that will be your total cookie cutter length. I found a width of 1 1/4 in worked great. Use your marker to mark off your strip on the metal. So sorry I forgot a picture!

Step 6: Using tin snips or scissors cut out the strip. If you have a heavy pair of scissors they work much better. Tin snips made the cut a little more rough.

Step 7: Use tape to secure your metal stirp to the ruler, there should be just a little bit hanging off.

Step 8: Use the ruler to help bend over an edge on your metal strip. Bending it over gives you a nice smooth safe edge o push down on when cutting cookies.

Step 9: Use something hard to run along the strip and flatten in. I used a bone folder.

Step 10: Once you edge is nice and smooth tape you pipe cleaner to it, making sure it is straight as possible. Then use the marks on the pipe cleaner to make the metal strip...this is an easy way to show you exactly where to bend.

Step 11: Keeping the outline near to guide you, begin to fold the metal at every mark. Make sure you looking at the image to know which way to fold. Most of the time it will be out. I used a metal scraper thing look around the house for something flat that will help you get a clean fold.

With all the folds, it will look like this...still doesn't really scream peeps right? Wer're getting there!

Step 12: Here is where I randomly grab round things to help. I used a chapstick, glue stick, and marker to elp round the curves of the chick. Continue shaping and molding while repeatedly laying over the outline to help shape. Remember you want the extra 1/2 to overlap.

 Step 13: Once you feel like your shape is good apply some of your adhesive where the cutter over laps (that extra 1/2 in you cut). I used steel stick because my husband thought it would be easy, and it was but it has to sit for awhile. The instructions said it would cure in an hour but I reccomend leaving it under the clip over night. If your in a pinch and need it right away...I would be fine with using a drop of suger glue or even hot glue for temporary.

Step 14: Once your cutter has dried over night, wash really well. And now your ready to bake!

Here are my two peeps cutters I made.

Just a little note....sometimes the top of the cutter gets a little wonky when bending because its double thick...thats ok! As long as you cutter side is still smooth you good to go :)

 Now think about all the creations you can make! The possibilites are endless. I am so excited I a no longer bound by the cutters I have on hand. I am really poud of how these little PEEPS turned out! To make these cookies I simple covered in royal icing and then sanding sugar, then added the eyes.

 Just hanging with my peeps :)

More PEEPS! projects come soon....very soon :)

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Photography for mommies

{Replace the studio}

Photography tips and tricks to help mommys take studio shots, right at home.

The great thing about this blog is you really never know what your gonna get! Sometimes its baking, some times it's a craft....but today it's photography! Let me start off by saying this....I AM NOT A PRO! Good. Just wanted to put that out there! haha. I am simply a mommy/crafter with a camera and I don't want to claim to be anything more. Over several years of playing and a small bit of training I have learned enough to get my way around. I have always loved taking pictures...if theres anything I love to do more then craft it's photograph everything! While my husband was deployed to keep me busy I worked as a photographer at a well known photo studio so I do have a bit of "professional" training. After having the twins I missed taking my kids pictures, was tired of paying the price, and really hated the hassel of it all. I mean seriously.....have you tried taking two 1 year old in for pictures? Ugh.

  We keep saying we are going to order a backdrop and lighting but it hasn't happened yet. But really you can get some great shots without all that jazz. All you need is a camera, some natural lights, a wall, patience, and a willing victim kid. And if you really want to try this but are a little unsure...maybe grab an adult to play model while you try it once.

So for all my non photographer mommys friends here is my tricks and tips for getting those "studio images" right at home :)

 First thing I do is plan what I am going to do. I plan location, time, outfit, and props.

Location: pick somewhere in or outside the house with beautiful natural light. If your outside remember to not put the kiddos where the sun is beating down making them uncomfortable and squinty...and you'll have an aweful glare. You DO NOT want to use the flash so somewhere with good natural light is best. The dining room has always worked well for us.

Time: for us 1-2pm works best...right after nap when the sun is brilliant and the kids are fresh. While the kids are napping I get everything "ready".

Outfits: Pick something your little one really loves to wear. Solid colors always look great or simple patterns.

Props: Grab some things your kiddo really likes. Maybe some books, their favorite blankie, or stuffed animal, a flower, a letter off their wall....get creative here. But not too crazy! Remember it's the kid you want to photograph.

Ok everything is set up, kid is freshly napped, camera is charged...

In the studio we had to follow a outline for each session. I always use it to this day to make sure I get all the traditional shots. Later I will play around and get fun things but while my window of oppurtunity is open I try to get the traditional shots I want. Like I said...I'm no pro so I'm just trying to get a classic shot first then play with some creative things. Here is the outline I follow with every session.

3 layers (a layer is a change of backdrop, outfit, or prop)
3 positions in each layer (standing, sitting, laying)
3 Shots of each position (full body, waist up, head shot)
1 super close up
1 (minimum) prop
1-3 enhancement (black and white, collages ect)

 Ok so hopefully your following along. Your taking 3 layers with 3 positions in each and 3 views in each position...coming out at 27 photos total then a close up and a prop. Now these numbers are a perfect shoot. Of course when your working with a 1 year old you most likely will have to take the same shot a few times to get it. But following this outline keeps me moving and getting different shots. Obviously they aren't all going to turn out amazing!

Ok so for those of you that are totally lost...I'm going to break it down barney style for you, with visuals! ;)

The other day I took some photos to mark Cadence turning 4. Yes, 3 months late but hey we moved to NY! She is really into "fancy" things right now so we decided on her easter dress, her strawberry dress because she is Strawberry Shortcake CrAzY, and a little sun dress she just wanted to wear. I wanted to take some in her room with purple walls because it's her favorite color, and I wanted to take some in the dining room where the light is great. We have these aweful heaters at the new house so to dodge them I decided to just put her right up on the table! It worked out great. Here's my 30 minute session with her.

Here are my three layers:

1. Cadence's room (purple wall)

2. Strawberry dress (on our dining room table!)

 3: Dress Change

I had more then three layers but really you only have to have one. I'm simply following my outline.

Here's what is going to give you several easy shots.
In the strawberry dress layer I have three positions (poses).

1. Standing

2. Sitting

3: Laying

See how that created three different quick shots?

If you want to take even more....take three different shots in each position. Mine are full body, waist up, and a head shot. If you are really wanting to be quick, Just make sure you've got a good full body. By using just a little cropping you can get the same effect. Here's one photo cropped into three.
1. Full Body

2. Cropped from waist up

3. Cropped from shoulders up.

Three very differnent looks all from the same postion...even the same photo if you'd like :)

So there you have it. Three different layers, three different positions, three different shots. Easy outline for some great pictures in a flash, ha.

This is what it looks like wrote out:

Layer 1:
Pose 1 - Standing
Full body
Waist up
Head shot

  Pose 2 - Sitting 
Full body
Waist up
Head shot

Pose 3 - Laying
Full body
Waist up
Head shot

Upclose, head turned, silly stuff, etc.

And repeat for Layer 2 and 3.

After taking the first nine shots I grab a few fun things before moving on to a different layer.

Have the kids look towards the sunlight. Such a innocent effect right?

Then I throw in a prop. Belive it or not Cadence picked this. It was in her room waiting to be hung. She thought she looked like a barbie in a box. Of course she has no clue that picture frames in pictures are all the rage right now ;)

And I used a little white chair.

Sometimes while the kiddo is laying I grab one eyelash shot. (really upclose) These are always so pretty in balck and white.

Which reminds me...they don't always have to be smiling. I just love this little face below.

But turn it black and white and I really love it!

And with a little photo shop skills you can switch up the background. I changed this one with one click (paintbucket).

I love to take one with them laying down...and pretend that they are really this sweet and innocents, lol.

Play with the angles. I stood on a chair for this one.

Off center.

And you want to keep them happy. So allow a few silly shots! Afterall itsn't this what she really looks like most of the time?




 Seriously. Cadence.

And when we are all done I tell her to pick her own poses....sometimes they turn out super cute!

And just a few final tips. Keep them happy and keep clicking! Saying CHEESE is not always best. If daddy can be around to be silly that GREAT. But often Daddy is working here so I keep the tone light. The whole time I am talking to her, making her giggle, telling her stories, and all around trying to keep her having fun. A real smile is always so much better. Just keep clicking! The beauty of digital cameras is you can take as many and delete as many as you want! Remember trying not to waste those precious rolls of film? Then getting them back and half the roll is of your finger anyway. lol.

 And since your at home on your own time, if you don't get some good ones......try again another day! Nothing waisted, experience gained.

Ready to give it a try?

I really love my other kids too haha. ...I'll share some of my favorite pictures I've taken of the kids. Diggin out these was so much fun.

Miley an Bailey a few weeks old.

OMG if you don't know these two...this pretty much sums it up! Love it.

Bailey Boo.

Miley Moo.

Start clickin :)