DIY Kitchen Art: Don’t buy…reuse!

In a previous post, I showed a bunch of blank spaces that needed to be filled. Last week, my son and I tackled this sad spot in our house. Just a few weeks ago, while perusing the newly opened local Hobby Lobby, I considered purchasing a canvas to use for this over-the-microwave project. I wanted to do a kitchen-inspired mixed media canvas, but have never done anything like it, so my husband suggested that I practice on paper before I buy a canvas. That sounded sensible. The very next day, while reading one of my favorite blogs, artist and crafter, Alisa Burke, reminded me of this:

Who says paintings need to be on canvas? Why not get creative and recycle things you already have on hand like cardboard cereal or food boxes. Painting on boxes is actually a great way to make art on a budget, create something that is light weight and easy to display.

About to toss out a cereal box and two boxes of granola bars, I thought to myself, not only are these the perfect sizes for the space, but the medium matches my kitchen-inspired message! I could even leave bits and pieces of the boxes showing through the paint! Then, after I gathered our materials, I realized that the newspaper I put down to protect the table was actually grocery store advertisements with pictures of food all over them and that added a whole other fun dimension to this project.

I wanted this to be a summer art project with my 3-year-old, so the results were not exactly what I’d envisioned, but it was fun and it still turned out well. I gave him the two smaller granola boxes to use while I used the larger cereal box. Plus, the activity turned into an alphabet, spelling, painting, and recycling lesson! If a 3-year-old can do it, so can you. If it turns out terrible, who cares! It was going to go into the recycle bin anyway!

Here you go: easy, fun, recyclable, reusable, cardboard kitchen art:

Materials: Anything goes, but I used…

  • white gesso
  • acrylic paint
  • an assortment of brushes
  • scissors
  • letter stencils
  • grocery store newspaper inserts (You could use anything! Pictures from magazines, clip art, your own drawings, cuttings from other food containers, etc.)
  • and cardboard food containers

Step 1: Cut out whatever strikes your fancy or looks especially appetizing from the grocery store inserts.

Step 2:  Paint as many coats of white gesso (or any color paint you want as a background) onto the cardboard as you want. If you like the box art showing through a little, just do one light layer. If you want a completely blank “canvas” you’ll need to paint several layers on, letting the paint or gesso dry in between. I used the gesso as my glue, so before you let the last layer dry, stick the food pictures onto the boxes wherever you want.

Step 3: Brush, dab, squirt, drip, and fling paint onto your boxes using whatever paint and colors you choose! I asked my son to try and paint around the pictures he’d just carefully chosen and glued to the box, so of course he decided to paint directly on top of all of the pictures.

Step 4: Layer paint, gesso, and cuttings as much as you like and let it all dry. As you can see in the photo above, I needed to smooth out my clippings, so I dry-brushed the gesso around the clipping edges making a feathery effect which both secured the edges and blended them into the rest of the picture.

Step 5: My son and I decided that, since there were three boxes, we could put a three-letter word across them. Coincidentally, both “eat” and “yum” would work. We decided on “yum” and I used big letter stencils and black acrylic paint to stencil the letters onto each box. The best thing about this project is that we could flip these exact boxes over and do something totally different on the other sides! We could use one giant box next time or lots of little boxes to spell “yummy” next time! I could take this to a whole other level and paint with food!

I may never buy another canvas again.

In fact, my next blank space might just be filled up with this:Happy Recycling, everybody!

p.s. Here is the inspirational cardboard box blog post from Alisa Burke for more ideas!

p.p.s. Speaking of cardboard box art, looks like there may just be a Cardboard Art Festival in Orlando in January 2013! Keep an eye out on this facebook event page for more info!



“Back” from Staycation

Oh, no! Staycation is over!But it was so fun!Lazy rivers, good food, afternoon naps, fireworks, mojitos, splash pads, playgrounds, Disney magic, heat exhaustion…so much Florida fun. We had a great dinner at The Wave…of American Flavors on the first floor of the Contemporary Resort. The atmosphere felt a little like a cruise ship, but I had an amazing watermelon, feta, balsamic salad and delicious blueberry bread pudding. We visited the new Art of Animation Resort and got caught in the middle of a rainstorm and a commercial taping (the director just kept telling the people to “look happier!” We took late-night walks, margaritas in hand. We cooked breakfast every morning and watched the NBA finals from the condo’s jacuzzi tub. We watched Emperor’s New Groove poolside, watched fireworks over the lake, ate way too much at Whispering Canyon Cafe at the Wilderness Lodge, and perfected a mean mango mojito. I’m so glad we took a little time to NOT think about video games or crocheting or transformers and just enjoy each other’s company.

But now we’re back with lots of video games, crocheting, and Transformers to catch up on. I had many goals this year for Happy Handmade and many of them have already been met, but a couple of them are still pending. I wanted to have more of my patterns for sale in my shop and I really wanted to put some work in a gallery setting of some kind. I am, hopefully, going to meet both of those goals in the next month. Since the Starcraft characters have been popular, I’ve decided to write out my patterns for the Marine and SCV. The Marine turned out well and I’m currently working on the SCV. Here is a little snapshot of the progress:

A friend of mine, who makes very happy art, herself, recently posted about this call for art and it is right up my ally. I just wish the deadline were more like three months away instead of less than a month away. Can I possibly pull something together in time?

We’ll see! I have to stop writing and get working. There are also custom orders to be done and a HUGE craft show I decided to do in November. I’m back from staycation, all right.

Stay dry, friends. That sunshine we enjoyed last week is long gone. My tomato plant fell over yesterday and broke in half. I had to water it and water it to keep it happy before this week. Then Debby comes through, it gets too much water, falls over, and breaks. That’s kind of like us last week in the sunshine. We wanted more and more of it. We got it. Then we got sick from heat exhaustion.

Hope your week is a Happy one…but in moderation.



Fun in Florida Friday: Disney Edition

I will soon be off on a Disney “staycation” for a week. We are all really excited, especially this guy, as it’s his first time visiting Disney World.

I made Mickey ears for Jhonen’s sloth so I can surprise him with it when we get to Disney.

In case you somehow didn’t know or were nervous about the prospect, all of Disney is accessible to everyone, resorts included. You just pull up to the resort security window, show them your ID, let them know you are there to visit and they’ll show you where to park! We plan on doing a week-long Disney vacation without ever stepping foot in the parks.

We will miniature golf, rent little speedboats, eat at fun resort-themed restaurants, sit by a campfire and roast s’mores with Chip and Dale, watch the electric boat parade and fireworks from the Fort Wilderness Campground’s  beach, and hang out in the lazy river at Bonnet Creek (This is not actually Disney property, so Bonnet Creek isn’t accessible to anyone, but most other Disney resort pools are…or, at least, you can get away with it at most Disney resorts. I’ve only been turned away once at the Yacht and Beach Club Pool which is probably the nicest one on property).

The hardest part about planning this trip it deciding which restaurants to visit. There are so many good ones to choose from!  I was thinking about it, and here are my top ten Disney restaurants (they are all good, depending on your mood and budget):

  1. Sanaa at Animal Kingdom Lodge Kidani Village – curry and amazing views at lunch
  2. Le Cellier at EPCOT – cheese soup and pretzel bread
  3. Kona Cafe at Polynesian Resort – great desserts and coffee
  4. Starlight Cafe at Magic Kingdom – hamburger topping bar
  5. Biergarten Restaurant at EPCOT – fun entertainment and all you can eat
  6. O’Hana at Polynesian Resort – good family style food with entertainment for the kids
  7. T-Rex Cafe at Downtown Disney – my son adores it
  8. Victoria and Alberts at Grand Floridian – it’s just the best…and you pay for it.
  9. Garden Grill at EPCOT – such good, fresh food…too bad it got so expensive
  10. Whispering Canyon Cafe at Wilderness Lodge – a fun place to go with a group

Favorite snack foods deserve a special mention:

  1. Dole Whip at Magic Kingdom
  2. Oatmeal Raisin Cookies from Goofy’s Candy Company at Downtown Disney
  3. Ultimate Frozen Mocha at Ghirardelli’s at Downtown Disney

I want to try the breakfast at O’Hana this time and maybe check out The Wave of American Flavors at the Contemporary Resort.

There’s also a huge chance it might rain all week long, in which case we will cook in the condo kitchen and watch movies and the NBA Finals from inside our comfy suite….and of course go see Brave on opening day at Downtown Disney.

I might post to my blog from Disney but, in case I don’t,

“M-I-C…See you real soon. K-E-Y. Why? Because I like you!”


Right now, Happy is…

My front porch, prettified…New cotton yarn, in the perfect colors, on sale…Water + Kids…Doves nesting in our orange tree…Yellow and Aqua…It’s not actually 120 degrees…not quite, anyway…My beautiful corgi basking in the sunshine…and Finals basketball, an upcoming staycation at Disney World, and these salt and vinegar potato chips.

What is making you Happy this week?


Vase Tutorial, Fabric Scrap Canvas Mosaics, and Gardening

This has been the longest break from blogging I’ve had and I didn’t like being away! I’m back and better than ever after feeling a bit burned out last week. My husband lost his beloved DS with his even-more-beloved Pokemon cartridge inside. The loss was tragic, but there was a silver lining in that we picked up and cleaned the entire house looking for it. That, in turn, led to some fun home projects and crafting. My burn-out happened while I was supposed to be planning my first Potluck Pinterest Party, which obviously didn’t happen on Saturday. I definitely still want to plan one and will as soon as possible. In the meantime, my friend Melanie (who has her own fun blog to check out called The Old Kitchen Range) set up a little impromptu playdate/craft project day!

It was just the two of us, so we had plenty of room to stretch out with a couple cavases, a pile of scrap fabric, some scissors, and a bunch of Mod Podge.

The project was a surprise to me, so I didn’t have the usual time to sit and agonize for hours over what I was going to make. I am not a very good spontaneous crafter. I’m a planner and decisions are not easy for me. Still, even though I took twice as long as Mel and my ten-month old almost ate a leaf while I wasn’t looking, I finished in an afternoon.

Melanie’s Finished Scrap Fabric Canvas Mosaic 

My Finished Fabric Scrap Canvas Mosaic

The canvas isn’t quite as big as I probably would have picked for the spot over the reading chair, but I still like how it looks and that takes one project off my project list and filled up one blank space in my list of blank-spaces-to-fill.

I have also done some work on that one garden bed, adding some purple salvia and a purple Wild Petunia which I now know, post-planting, is extremely invasive. Reading up on the plant, I read that I should make sure to buy the non-invasive variety which I, of course, did not see until after I’d already purchased it.

Still, it’s pretty and adds some much-needed color to the yard. I had planned to buy a second one soon to put on the other side of the birdbath. I am going to look around for the non-invasive kind before I buy another one, although, if the other one is invasive, than maybe I don’t need to buy another one? Maybe it will just invade the whole bed? I don’t know! Then I think I want to get a Mandevilla vine for the back corner behind it all? It’s a work in progress. I think I’ll go ahead and mulch the whole thing and that will make it passable for now while I answer all of those questions.

Finally, this week ended with a quick, fun craft project that I saw on Pinterest a long time ago. The project was to collect plain glass bottles, add designs with puff paint and then spray-paint them. I didn’t actually pin the website so I don’t know who to attribute the idea to (I don’t want to claim it as my idea…it definitely wasn’t….but here’s a tutorial of  how I did it). I have been hoarding these pretty little San Pellegrino bottles and a couple other glass beverage bottles we found at Fresh Market for months. They have been sitting in my kitchen windowsill looking awful, just waiting for me to figure out how to remove the labels so I could spray paint the darn things! I had a slower amigurumi week (feeling some finger pain) so I decided this was the time to finally finish this little vase project.

My own spray-painted glass vase tutorial:

1. Soak the vases in a hot soapy water bath and the labels should just slip right off! I found the San Pellegrino labels sitting on the bottom of the bowl. The Fresh Market labels took a little peeling and scrubbing, but not much at all.

2. Let the bottles dry.

3. Using any sort of puff paint (I used white Tulip Fabric Puff Paint) create designs around the vases. I decided to do a different design on each vase. I also thought about doing a design on half of the bottles and leaving the rest plain. I kind of wish I’d done that now. You could also just skip this step and make them all plain white, too.

4. Let the puff paint dry.

5. Spray Paint the bottles any color, or colors, you choose! My dishes are white and I wanted the vases to be versatile for any occasion and to match any flower, so I went with white. As you can see, I used a sadly pruned tree in my yard as a vase-holder so I could spray paint all the way around the vases all at once. I did one coat, let that dry, and then sprayed once more.

6. Then turn the dry bottles over and spray the top, doing any last touchups.

Here’s the finished result!

Make as many or as few as you like. They can be grouped and configured in so many ways with all the flowers cut at the same height in a straight row or bunched up in the center of a table with the flowers all cut at different heights and pointing in different directions.

Be careful about the vases scraping together. I noticed the spray paint gets knicks and dings easily.

I think a group of 6 or 7 completely different sized bottles would be cool, too.

This week I’m going to get busy working on some more amigurumi patterns of Starcraft characters for Etsy. I am forcing myself to carefully write out the patterns and take photos of each step as I go this time which is a slow process, but worth it in the end. I should hopefully have a Marine and an SCV finished in a couple weeks.

Also, did anyone else notice a new show on TLC called Craft Wars?!? With Tori Spelling? I must check this out…I’ll be sure to report back with a review.




Florida Fun Friday – Reptiles in the Rain

Meet Bruce, the Black Mamba.

Another rainy weekend in Florida…what to do, what to do? A couple weeks ago I tentatively agreed to visit the Reptile Discovery Center in DeLand, a place I never knew existed, even though I lived in DeLand for 4 years. Just off International Speedway, this little spot feels like a snake museum and would have been really awesome if I hadn’t been so nauseous and tense the whole time. I am extremely scared of snakes. Still, I found the place to be enjoyable and educational and would recommend it to anybody. If you happen to like snakes and other reptiles, you should definitely visit!

I was recently asked to make an amigurumi Black Mamba and had pictured myself making a happy little black snake. Come to find out, black mambas are not actually black….nor are they the happiest of snakes. Deadly? Yes, very. Happy? Not so much. Apparently Black Mambas get their name from the black color in the inside of their mouths.

What was the very first snake I came across at the Reptile Discovery Center? Yep! A Black Mamba. It was more brownish-gray than anything…a pretty nondescript color that I found difficult to replicate. I ended up using a rusty brown cotton yarn mixed with a shiny silver bamboo yarn and the result was really cool! It’s not entirely accurate. The Mamba had more of a brownish back and a silvery underside, but I do like the way the mixed yarns looked like actual snake skin.

The Reptile Discovery Center is home to Medtoxin, billed as “a large-scale commercial venom production facility that collects venom from an array of venomous snakes for use in pharmaceuticals and medical research.” It’s really intense and interesting to watch the extractions. If you want to see what it’s like, here’s a short video we took while visiting.

Other than the extractions and the galleries of the most venomous snakes in the world including the gorgeous green mamba, cobras, pythons, boa constrictors, rattlesnakes of all kinds and many more, there is also a trail where you’ll find alligators, tortoises, many types of lizards, a basilisk, and turtles. There are bug spray stations available which you should definitely utilize. It was Deer Fly-crazy in the woods. Plus, before the venom extraction, we were given the opportunity to hold a baby alligator and a few big snakes.

The experience didn’t cure me of my snake fears, but I am proud of myself for having faced them….even if I did need ice cream afterwards. I’m also proud of myself for making this snake. I procrastinated as long as possible but, like the Reptile Discovery Center, I was glad I did it, once I’d done it.

I have another fear of blank white surfaces. Maybe I should go to the newly opened Hobby Lobby in Orange City this weekend, pick up a giant canvas, and fill it full of paint. What fears can you face this weekend?