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Mother’s Day Gift Idea: A “Time To Create” Box

post by Andrea

One of the things I think all women crave more of, especially women that love to create, is time.  And if you’re a mother of young children, this rings even more true.  My husband always seems perplexed each year as to what to get me for Mother’s Day, and I’m admittedly not much help.  But this year I created in my head what the perfect gift would be.  An afternoon off, to sit around and make stuff.  Projects I’ve been meaning to get around to, new beads I’ve wanted to play with, pretty paper that’s just itching to be used.  A crafternoon if you will, made even better by a box of plenty, filled with fun and pretty items to craft and create with.  It doesn’t get much easier or convenient than that, right?  Below is what my perfect crafting box would look like, and how I created it, but really, you can adjust it to the needs and interests of any special woman in your life.

You begin of course with a lovely box.  Add some shredded paper so items don’t shift all around, and then layer a few sheets of tissue paper over that.

Begin filling the box with your items, largest at the bottom, and build up from there.  The color scheme of this box was based primarily off this nautical themed paper I found at Paper Source, with rich shades of navy, crimson and jade, offset by a soft shade of pool blue.  Paper crafting is an easy and stress free way to spend the afternoon, so the majority of the items in the box center around paper crafts, with a few fun extras throw in.

Stamps and stamp pads are an easy and inexpensive way to create personalized stationery, so several of each were added in, as well as a stack of simple white card stock and kraft paper envelopes.

Gel pens in coordinating colors and a genius of an invention, the glue pen, were included.  Personalize your note cards by writing a message with the glue pen, then sprinkling some glitter on top.  The aquatic and polka dot paper is cut out and used to line envelopes, a simple, yet festive touch.

A few added odds and ends include bottles of nail polish, glitter, and some interesting beads, just in case I want to do something different.  The beads are used to make a funky keychain so I can find my keys in my purse, and why yes, a manicure with a bit of glitter is called for.  And if you have a keen eye, you might have noticed the wrapped coffee gift card up top.  A good coffee drink is essential for any creative afternoon.

In case you do want to create a box similar to mine, here is a list of resources:

While this box was pretty much made for me and my interests, you can create something with just about any theme in mind.  Specialty spices and non-perishable food mixes from Williams Sonoma for the foodie in your life.  Fabric swatches and coordinating thread and a new sewing pattern for the seamstress.  For the gardener, you could even think outside the box and give a pretty terrarium filled with all the necessary items to create one like Nicole’s.  Whatever is in the box though, it will surely be appreciated if given with the promise of just a little extra time to herself.

Handpainted Wooden Clothespin Dolls

I made this motley crew. Not to be confused with the Crüe, though that would be rad.

Eleanor is old enough now to be interested in arts and crafts (YAY!), so we’ve been doing a lot of little projects lately. Beaded bracelets, pom pom critters, painted birdhouses, braided pipe cleaner things, and now, clothespin people. Most of the time, I let her do her thing with a little supervision and a little guidance, but I couldn’t resist making a bunch of these myself.

I’ve missed making pretty little things for the fun of it.

Eleanor plays with them all, the ones I’ve made mixed with the ones she did and the ones from daddy, too. Here, they are exploring the icy landscape of a Star Wars toy that was Brandon’s as a kid. Hoth, maybe? I have no idea.

Reunited, and it feels so good.

Brandon made his first, and he used a sharpie (markers bleed and feather on the wood). He says he would have made his better had he known I would be photographing them. Eleanor used paint for a few, but markers are better for a toddler (no drying time), so I encouraged her to use them as much as I could. I used craft paint for mine, because you know I am hardcore like that. Also, Brandon says all of mine are hunchbacks. I say it’s better to see the arms from the front so they don’t look limbless. Tom-ay-to/tom-ah-to.

I put together a roundup of all my favorite clothespin and peg dolls, but I did it after I made mine. Now that I’ve seen how many good ones are out there, I might have to get my hands on some different shapes to expand our set.

How To Make A Succulent Sea Terrarium

by Andrea

My daughter turned seven last week and requested a mermaid themed pool party. While color schemes, garland and paper pom poms are an important part of a birthday bash, in our home the craft station is usually a large focus as well. My kids love arts and crafts time, and so I wanted to come up with something that would be a hybrid of things that we all loved, with some attention to design. My goal was not to create more clutter for the kids to bring home, but to help them all create something sweet and simple that they would hopefully be able to display at home for awhile. Thus, the succulent sea terrarium craft was born. The kids terrariums came out so pretty that I had to create a few “grown up” versions for myself.

I chose succulents as the focal point in the terrariums because even though they are really dry, desert dwellers, their shape and color also remind me of algae and seaweed you would find in the ocean.  I selected tall, spiny looking succulents for the arrangements, with a few grass-like ground covers as well, to represent algae.  The glass globes were picked up at a local craft store and although they are technically meant to be votive holders, their shape remind me of old glass fishing balls.  In addition you will need some coarse sand and cactus soil.

I wanted the terrariums to have a sandy soil to mimic the bottom of the ocean, however since succulents need some kind of organic rich soil, they most likely would not survive in pure sand.  So I created a sandy bottom with a little crater for some cactus soil to rest in.  We, well mainly my husband, has been growing succulents for over 10 years now.  He likes to claim that he loved succulents before they were cool.  All this to say that we’ve had a lot of experience growing, and sometimes failing at growing succulents.  We started out using regular potting soil, but have found that the more arid cactus soil works much better, allowing good drainage and circulation for the succulents. So once you’ve laid out your sandy bottom and base of cactus soil, you’re ready to start planting.

The nice thing about working with succulents is their shallow root system and how little soil they really require to survive.  If some of your plants are a bit too large for your vessel, you can simply trim off a bit of the root or some of the leaves and stick them right in the soil.  I’ve read that dipping your succulents in a rooting hormone before planting helps encourage growth, but I’ve never used it and have always had great luck.  It’s always an option though in case you’re a little nervous.  Once you’ve got your planting done, gently add in a bit more sand to cover up the cactus soil.  It doesn’t have to be perfect, in fact I think it looks quite nice having a bit of the soil peeking through the sand.

If you wish you can add a little mermaid or two, and some pretty rocks or shells to complete your seascape. The miniature mermaids are actually cocktail drink markers I found online and spray painted them white to be a bit more sophisticated.

The final result is pretty little terrarium that combines my daughter’s love of all things mermaid related, my husband’s love of succulents, and my love of good design.  To care for your succulents, simply add just a touch of water every other day for 2-3 weeks to get them started.  After that, a light watering once a week should do the trick.  In small vessels like this I’ve had my succulents last for at least 9 months, but of course play it by ear and know that you may have to refresh your plantings every once in a while.  Succulents are easy to care for, but they’re not completely maintenance free.  If they do in fact grow you will have to transplant them.

And in case you’re interested, for the kid’s terrariums we used quart size mason jars for the vessels, and I left the mermaids their original color.  We set the table up outside and let them each create their own fantasy mermaid world, and they loved packing their jars with as many shells, stones, and brightly colored mermaids as they could fit.

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