Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Book Talk - March Reads

Read any good books lately?  I haven't been reading as much as I'd like, but I thought I'd share a couple of good reads that I came across this month. 

 Honolulu by Alan Brennert

I found this to be an easy and interesting read-- especially so because my parents & grandparents were  born and raised in Hawaii, most of my family still lives there, and even though I'm a native Californian, I consider Hawaii "home". The sugar plantations, pineapple canneries, "camps" are all part of my family's history and the characters and their experiences just seem so real to me.  Oh, and the mention of all the yummy "mixed plate" food just makes me salivate... which is bad since I tend to read late at night. So anyhow, back to "Honolulu"... This book is about a Korean girl whose desire to escape the binds of Confucian-era Korea lands her in colorful and often lawless Honolulu at the turn of the 20th Century.  Her story is woven around many of the historic events and personalities that shaped Hawaiian culture-- Ever wonder where the term "local" came from?; Why Hawaii traditionally votes Democrat?;  Hawaiian shirts, anyone?  Whether you've a "local", seasoned visitor or are planning to visit someday, you'll find this to be a historically accurate, well-researched and compelling story. 


The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind by William Kamkwamba, Bryan Mealer

If you ever find yourself having a "my life sucks... why me?" kind of day, I highly recommend this book for some real life inspiration.  This is the true story of William Kamkwamba, a 14 year old boy from Malawi whose perserverance and drive overcomes the obstacles that he faces daily-- poverty, famine, lack of education, no resources, corrupt government... to name just a few. His dream is not all that unusual-- To get an education and to find a way to better the lives of his family and village.  But how he does it-- without the benefit of education, simple resources, and especially in a time of famine, is truly inspiring.  It's easy to forget that he lives in "modern" times.  There is a shocking juxtaposition between what little resources he has in third world Africa and the abundance and waste that most citizens of first world countries experience daily.  It was so refreshing to see the world through his eyes and be inspired by the tenacity and beauty of the human spirit.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Decorating Easter Eggs - Glass Microbeads

Since I appear to be on some sort of Easter Egg decorating kick (and since I already have all the materials out), I decided to make some Glass Microbead Eggs using the Martha Stewart Microbead Kit that I picked up at Michaels for $10.  Armed with a rainbow array of microbeads, a little double-sided adhesive paper and some ceramic eggs, it turned out to be a fun little project... and not as messy as I thought.

{a very mini tutorial}
  • Cut the adhesive paper into various shapes using decorative scissors, a paper cutter and/or punches.
  • Remove one protective strip from the double-sided adhesive paper and go to town making various patterns on the eggs.
  • Then pick the desired color and pour the microbeads into a #4 coffee filter.
  • Remove the other protective strip on the parts that you wish to 'color'.
  • Dip the egg into the filter to apply the beads.
  • If desired, repeat with another color using a new coffee filter.

The filter makes application and clean-up really easy-- it was very easy to pour the unused beads back into the small containers.

Here are the results--

funky green lines - my fave

red & turquoise circus polkadots

amethyst & pink stripes

blue zig zags

turquoise & orange circles-  I must've been thinking about the olympics ;)

lilac stripes

And one FAIL... I find that my favorite eggs have a simple design and the larger the design the better... Case in point, a small flower looks like a blob once you apply the beads~

{pink flower surrounded by gold blobs}

So I'm done decorating Easter Eggs.
D-O-N-E... finito... No mas.

Here's a peek at my Spring Mantel.  Aside from Christmas, I usually don't "dress" my mantel for the seasons, so I'm thrilled that my formerly plain mantel is now adorned with lots of beautiful Washi and Microbeaded Eggs.

Linked to:
Favorite Things Friday @ A Few of My Favorite Things
Strut Your Stuff Thursday @ Somewhat Simple
Show off Your Stuff @ Fireflies & Jellybeans
Frugal Friday Linky Party @ The Shabby Nest
Weekend Wrap Up Party @ Tatertots and Jello

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Decorating Easter Eggs - Washi Tape, Part Deux

I'm back with more Easter Eggs decorated with Washi Tape... See, I wasn't kidding about needing a washi-intervention!  For more details, see PART ONE.

materials needed:
washi tape
ceramic eggs
double-sided adhesive paper (optional)
black vinyl (optional)
decorative paper punch (optional)

Patchwork inspired eggs--

To speed up the process, cut out square & rectangle shapes beforehand and stick the corners to something glass or plastic.

Chalkboard inspired egg--

Use black vinyl for the chalkboard effect.  BTW, it bothered me that the vinyl was hard to smooth out on the egg's uneven surface... so this egg is a one and only.

A monogram egg with "fancy-cut" washi--

Use a paper punch to add detail to the washi tape.  Place tape on vellum before cutting with the punch. Pull tape off vellum as you need it-- if you take it off all at once it gets a little unruly.  I used a rub-on decal for the monogram, a sticker would also work.

Eggs using 8 mm tape--

quick and easy way to decorate

Eggs using washi tape and decorative paper--

Place decorative paper face-up on a double-sided adhesive sheet. I drew a design on the back and cut it out.  I also used a decorative paper punch for the smaller details

Washi Eggs Galore--

For more ideas, check out Washi Tape, Part I

Linked to:

DIY Day @ A Soft Place to Land
Talented Tuesday @ My Frugal Family
Show & Share @ Just a Girl

Monday, March 22, 2010

Decorating with Letters & Numbers

{Not just for kids}

I've been looking for ideas to decorate our bonus room.  It serves two purposes-- playroom for the kids and media room for The Mister and I.  So basically, something fun and colorful that doesn't scream "romper room".

I'm loving all these letters and numbers that I keep seeing everywhere so I thought I'd share a few fun finds~

via pottery barn {number pillow covers}
and if you're interested, 

via urban outfitters {marquee alphabet lights}

via ohdeedoh {wall alphabet}

 via ohdeedoh {alphabet canvases}

via anthropologie {ordinal dresser}

via ohdeedoh {alphablock photo display}

via apartment therapy {vee's inspiration wire}

via anthropologie {numbered buds pillow}

via land of nod {the ABCs rug}

how sweet is this?


Friday, March 19, 2010

Decorating Easter Eggs - Japanese Washi Tape

This afternoon, Smarty Pants and I sat down to decorate some Easter Eggs-- I know it's early, they're ceramic... no rotten eggs will be had.  I wanted a project that an almost 4 year old would be able to enjoy and also something pretty that could nicely adorn our dining room table for Easter Brunch.

I've been seeing a lot of mention of Washi Tape, but wasn't sure what I would do with it.  That is, until I saw the latest issue of Family Circle.

What is Japanese Washi Tape?  Well, in a nutshell, it's beautiful masking tape.  It has all the good qualities of masking tape-- easy to remove and reposition (if necessary), easy to rub out the little bubbles, sticky, but not too sticky.  However, it looks nothing like dull, brown masking tape-- It comes in beautiful colors and patterns, has a tissue paper-like transparency, and also comes in a variety of widths.

Here's a peek at a few of our creations~

washi tape - looks good enough to eat
I ♥ Japanese packaging!
The Egg

My 3-year old's first creation

Smarty Pants had a great time and made some beautiful eggs.  It's a great project for the 3+ crowd because, aside from maybe dropping an egg, there really is no way for this project to go wrong (the tape doesn't stick well to hair or furniture-- Gee, I wonder how I know this?) .  I simply told Smarty Pants to "cover the white", and I think his eggs are the most vibrant and beautiful.  But I do have to warn you... Washi tape is addictive.  I had no idea how much fun I would have.  I'm still thinking of new egg designs. And I'm also starting to think of ways to jazz up some clear vases and white dishware, and maybe incorporating washi into gift wrapping... Uh oh, a Washi-intervention may be in order.

Supplies:  ceramic eggs from oriental trading company;  washi tape from downtown fabrics; also on amazon.

Linked to:

Frugal Friday @ The Shabby Nest
Favorite Things Friday @ A Few of My Favorite Things
Motivate Me Monday @ Keeping it Simple
Just Something I Whipped Up @ The Girl Creative
Made it Monday @ The Persimmon Perch

Fabulous Friday Find - Hello Kitty USB Memory Stick

How cute is this?  And there's probably little no chance that a techie guy would "accidentally" run off with it ~

Because you're never too old for Hola Kitty!!

♫♫♪ ♪♪♪ ♫♫♪

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Photo Editing - Turning a Photo into Art

I was playing around with Photoshop Elements and found a very easy and economical way to turn my favorite photos into art.  Why pay big $$, when you may have a hidden gem right on your ol' point and shoot?  And truthfully, it is easy.  If you can stumble through a Guided-edit to "crop" and do an "auto fix", then stumble on over to a Full-edit to make a few more clicks on the screen, then you too can create some "Art".  And boy do I stumble.  Every time I open Photoshop it's like starting all over again-- eyes get wide, I start mumbling stuff like "Now what do I do?"; "I know it's here somewhere!";  "What the ??!!", then I start clicking around the screen aimlessly.  One day it'll all make sense, but until then... I'll just make it up as I go along ('cause I'm crazy like that).

So anyhow, my soon-to-be craft room needs a little color, so I thought I'd tinker around with some flower photos that I took a few years back.  This one is from Butchart Gardens~

{Original Photo}

{Applied 5x7 Crop}

With a few clicks, the magic begins...

Select {Filter>Artistic>Watercolor}
{Water Color filter} ~ soft but with some darker details

Or how about these "works of art"?

Select {Filter>Artistic>Paint Daubs}

{Paint Daubs filter} ~ a soft, bright look 

Select {Filter>Artistic>Plastic Wrap}

{Plastic Wrap filter} ~ I love the added texture on the flowers and leaves

Select {Filter>Artistic>Cut Out}

{Cutout filter} ~ the most modern look


I thought I'd try out some of the filters on a non-floral photo-- How about an action shot?  Here are some Artistic Effects on one of my favorite photos taken in Venice, Italy~

{Original Photo}
needs to be cropped since you can see the front of our gondola in the frame

{Dry Brush filter}

{Poster Edges filter} ~ interesting what it did to the sky
{Water Color filter} ~ love the watery effect on the buildings.  I think this is my fav.