Cherry Pie Pops

Cherry Pie Pops
One last farm related treat before I wrap up all the festivities, and that’s these Cherry Pie Pops. Homemade pie is such a perfect All-American staple, I knew I had to have it reflected in my Farm Table. But there was no way I was letting 20 kids loose in my house with plates full of cherry pie. These pie pops were the perfect solution. All of the tastiness of pie, but somehow I made it through the entire party without any cherry stains on my rugs!

Step 1
Since I was in time management mode, I used a pre-made refrigerated dough. If I was serving this to grown ups I’d make my own, but either way you just roll your pie dough out as normal. Use a biscuit cutter to cut out as many pieces as you can.

Step 2
Line the pieces up on a parchment lined cookie sheet, and press a lollipop stick down into the dough.

Step 3
Spoon some pie filling into the center. I actually kind of overfilled the pies in the picture. You want to be able to get that top piece on.

Step 4
Use a fork to pinch the edges of both pie crusts closed, then cut a couple of slits in the top to allow steam to escape. Since there’s a lot of crust to a smaller amount of filling than usual, I gave the crusts a little touch of water and then sprinkled them with sugar, just to up the sweetness a bit more.

Pie Pops
When it comes to the epic cake vs. pie debate, I’m a member of team cake. But if we’re talking cake pops vs. pie pops, these win, hands down.

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Corn Cob Marshmallow Treats

Corn Cob TreatsWith Easter behind me, I have to get back to showing you all the ideas I had for Atti’s farm themed birthday party. The party was a success for Atticus, but also a big success for me since I got to go nuts with the snacks and live out all my Pinterest dreams.

popcornWe borrowed a popcorn machine from Bear’s work and had popcorn popping all day. The goats were BIG fans of this one.

Orange PumpkinsA few other ideas were simple things I saw online. These orange pumpkins popped up all over the place, and so did serving potato chips and chex mix under the names “wood shavings” and “chicken feed” respectively. I’d link to something if I could find an originator, but everything I found just has people saying “I saw this online.”

But these Corn Cob treats are all mine, and I’m obsessed with them.

Step 1If you’ve ever made rice krispie treats, you know how to make these. I followed the instructions of the back of the marshmallow bag and melted together 3 T butter and the contents of one bag of marshmallows.

Step 2Then stir in 6 cups of Kix cereal and keep stirring until each little ball is coated in marshmallow.

Step 3Scoop the goopy covered cereal out onto parchment paper, making little handful sized mounds. Let these cool down until they’re not too hot to touch.

Step 4When the cereal treats are cool enough to touch but while they’re still warm and malleable, give each mound a squish to get it thoroughly stuck together but also to shape it into a corn cob shape. Just a long oval will do, you don’t need to put much thought into it.

Step 5For serving, and to finish the look, put each treat into a cellophane serving bag. Give the top of the bag a twist and tie it closed with green raffia to make it look like a husk.

Not only are these treats about the cutest things ever, but making them with Kix instead of Rice Krispies really changes the taste. There’s more cereal compared to marshmallow, so they’re not so cloyingly sweet. They disappeared embarrassingly fast. Like, Bear may or may not now posdess a blackmail picture of me double fisting these while my mouth is already full. I have to remember to stay on his good side now.

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Fun Foam Flowers and Chicken Wire Napkin Rings

Fun Foam Flowers
I have more farm birthday stuff to show you, but I had to take a break before Easter comes and tramples right over me. Farm birthday goodies are coming, but for today I had to share this little project with all of you preparing for a big Easter meal and looking for a quick and cheap way to dress up your table. If you can work a glue gun you can make this in a matter of minutes, and for less than a dollar each flower.

I originally intended these flowers to go on top of napkin rings, but I made them WAY too big. Which ended up working out great because the napkin rings looked better unadorned and these flowers let me have a seasonally dressed up table in a house that needs to be kitty and wheelchair friendly. I can’t have china out on the table all week long if I want to keep it, but if these end up on the floor (and they have) then no harm done. Just a quick brush to get the cat hair off and back up to the table for a little spot of loveliness.

Step 1
Out of Fun Foam, you’ll need to cut your pieces. One large piece of foam is enough for one of my big style flowers. You’ll need one circle piece roughly 1 1/2″ in diameter, and then you’ll need four sets of petals in different sizes. I freehand cut one of the large petals (it’s about 3 inches across) and I specifically did not aim for uniformity or a pattern because nature is random. It looks better messy. You’ll need a little tab at the bottom to give you space for glue, so the finished petal looks a bit like a fat teardrop. Once you get the petal the way you want it, cut out five more. Then take one of those petals and trim about a 1/4 inch from around it. Cut five more just like that. Trim off another 1/4 inch, cut five more that size. Trim one more time and cut until you have five petals in the smallest size. Five petals in four different sizes, plus the circle for the center.

Step 2
Use a heat gun to warm up each piece of foam. The heat gun gets wicked hot, so I used a little needle tool I had on hand to keep the petal where I wanted it without burning myself. A pencil will work, or anything that keeps your hands out of the way. As the foam heats up it will naturally begin to curl in on itself. You don’t need much curl, particularly on the bigger petals, you just want to add a little dimension. Heat up each petal.

For the center piece, heat up the circle until it begins to be pliable. Then fold it into quarters and heat it up again. Hold it in that folded up position until it cools and you’ll have a little bud shape.

Step 3
On a piece of parchment paper, spread a pool of hot glue. The parchment paper is a fantastic non-stick surface to work on and this will let you stick the petals down into the glue when the first layer doesn’t have something to stick down on top of.

Step 4
Arrange three large petals in a triangle shape, and then add the last two to make the star shape by gluing those last two petals on top of the others.

Step 5
Add the next few layers by putting hot glue onto the tabs on the bottom of each petal, offsetting the petals as you apply them. You don’t want them to line up with the petals below them, you want that organic random look. If you aim to have that seam where the petals overlap in one layer land right in the middle of the petal in the next layer, you’ll get great fluffy volume too.

Step 6
Spread some hot glue on the curved bottom of the center bud piece and tuck that right down into the middle.

Step 7
If you’re unhappy with the shape of any of your petals, you can bring the heat gun back out. Heat up any offending petals and use your fingers to hold them in the shape you want until they cool down.

Napkin Ring Step 1
So my original vision for this project didn’t work out, but that doesn’t bother me any. Instead of one project, I get two. And these wire napkin rings are even simpler than the flowers.

Cut a piece of decorator chicken wire to 6″ x 3″.

Napkin Ring Step 2
Bend it around and use the wires you cut to wrap it together.

Fake Flowers
Since I had a bunch of dye out to dye some Easter eggs, I decided to take the largest petals and dunk them, just to see what happened. I ended up with just the faintest hint of color on the outermost petals, which I think adds to the look so much. Flowers often take on a touch of color on the outermost edge and it helped to make it look a little less pretend.

Flower Centerpiece
I’m not typically a big Tablescape person, but I’m starting to see the appeal. In the week since I finished these projects my dining room table has actually stayed clean. No leftover meal messes, no homework piles, just a bright spot of Easter loveliness. I might give this Tablescape thing a try more often.

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DIY Photo Rig

DIY Photo Rig

Blogging is so completely different from when I started out. To keep going after ten years you gotta find ways to keep it fresh, and for me, that’s been through my Youtube channel. I just had a reason to link to one of my early videos and I’m amazed at how bad it looks. There’s a real learning curve to even film making as basic as a Youtube video, and since I’ve started I think I’ve gotten way way better.

My latest advancement is a tool to give me another angle to shoot from. I do all of my filming and editing completely on my own – Bear is occasionally around to push the record button – and it just hasn’t been possible for me to get too up close for my tutorials. I need about four more hands to film and craft at the same time.

I looked into all kinds of film equipment, but I couldn’t find anything that would suit my small scale purposes. I really didn’t need a crane. So after a lot of thought, I came up with a simple and dirt cheap way to get those overhead shots that make such a difference in showing how to make something. All you need is PVC pipe and a way to cut it.

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DIY Dyed Poetry Pants

Resist Dye Poetry Pants
I have been so blocked. I have so many projects all made up and photographed and videoed and ready to share, but I sit down just to type up instructions – the simplest part of the whole thing – and it feels overwhelming. I’ve gotten so much better health wise, but there’s a lot of trauma of the last year to heal from and all my words seem to be on the other side of that wound. So what better time than now to bring out the poem and project that always gives me strength.

I found this poem, For Strong Women by Marge Piercy, and I wept when I read it. It got right to the heart of my whole life experience. I am a strong woman, and I’m proud of my strength, but so many people react to me as if I never need help, never get weary, never pay a price. To those people I always shake my head and ask, “Have you read my blog?” I don’t know if it’s possible to talk more about the cost of everything I do and yet so many people only see what they want to see. They put people like me in a special “strong” category so that they can have some comfort that maybe our troubles won’t befall them. I get really mad at this because when I do need help and ask for it, people don’t hear. Or when I am just killing it they dismiss it as some innate character trait instead of giving me credit for what I’m slogging through every day. Each of us wants to be seen as a whole person and this poem dug into my heart at how it expressed that true strength comes from proceeding DESPITE the fear, not without it.

So I took this poem that meant so much to me, and I wrote it on my pants so that every time I wore them this message would walk with me.

Step 1
The poem is quite a long one, so I picked out a few stanzas that I wanted to use. Then I got a pair of white pants and wrote the poem write on them with Elmer’s blue gel glue. My pals at RIT dye informed me that this is the best glue to use for a resist project, and they would know.

Step 2
Let the glue dry completely, then flip the pants over and keep writing on the other side. If you really hate your handwriting you could use stencils or stamps, but boy would that take forever. Plus, I think the messier your handwriting the cooler this project would look.

Step 3
When the glue is totally dry, dunk the pants in a cool dye bath. You don’t want to use a stovetop dye method for this one or the glue will just melt away. Let it get a couple shades darker than you ultimately want it, and then wash and dry in the machine as normal. For the first time through the washing machine, wash it all by itself. There will be some dye that comes out in the wash the first few times, and you want to spare the rest of your clothes from picking that up. Some colors wear better than others, but I’ve found that this Pearl Gray color I used is really good and fixed. I just toss these pants in with all the rest of my laundry now and don’t give a thought to any dye transfer.

Poetry Pants
Every time I leave the house in these I get compliments. It might be because they look so cool, but I think it’s also because when I wear them I can’t help but strut. The message they carry is my own little secret boost to get through the day. I swear, they’re better than caffeine.


For strong women

by Marge Piercy

A strong woman is a woman who is straining.
A strong woman is a woman standing
on tip toe and lifting a barbell
while trying to sing Boris Godunov.
A strong woman is a woman at work
cleaning out the cesspool of the ages,
and while she shovels, she talks about
how she doesn’t mind crying, it opens
the ducts of her eyes, and throwing up
develops the stomach muscles, and
she goes on shoveling with tears in her nose.

A strong woman is a woman in whose head
a voice is repeating, I told you so,
ugly, bad girl, bitch, nag, shrill, witch,
ballbuster, nobody will ever love you back,
why aren’t you feminine, why aren’t
you soft, why aren’t you quiet,why
aren’t you dead?

A strong woman is a woman determined
to do something others are determined
not to be done. She is pushing up on the bottom
of a lead coffin lid. She is trying to raise
a manhole cover with her head, she is trying
to butt her way though a steel wall.
Her head hurts. People waiting for the hole
to be made say, hurry,you’re so strong.

A strong woman is a woman bleeding
inside. A strong woman is a woman making
herself strong every morning while her teeth
loosen and her back throbs. Every baby,
a tooth, midwives used to say,and now
every battle a scar. A strong woman
is a mass of scar tissue that aches
when it rains and wounds that bleed
when you bump them and memories that get up
in the night and pace in boots to and fro.

A strong woman is a woman who craves love
like oxygen or she turns blue choking.
A strong woman is a woman who loves
strongly and weeps strongly and is strongly
terrified and has strong needs. A strong woman is strong
in words, in action, in connection, in feeling;
she is not strong as a stone but as a wolf
sucking her young. Strength is not in her,but she
enacts it as the wind fills a sail.

What comforts her is other’s loving
her equally for the strength and for the weakness
from which it issues, lightning from a cloud.
Lightning stuns. In rain,the clouds disperse.
Only water of connection remains,
flowing through us. Strong is what we make together,
a strong woman is a woman strongly afraid.

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Modern Paper Christmas Tree

Modern Paper Christmas Tree
During Christmas I break all my usual design tastes. Throughout the year I like uncluttered, clean lines, minimalism, and midcentury modern. At Christmas I love it all. There’s no such thing as too much, no style unrepresented, I want every surface festooned with holiday cheer. So when I can make those two styles converge, just imagine the heaven I create for myself. Using some foam core, glue, and scrapbook paper I can make a Christmas tree that would be perfectly at home in Don Draper’s Manhattan loft.

Step 1
To make a tree the same size as mine, you’ll need three pieces of foam core posterboard. Cut each piece in half along the longest edge, and then mark the center line of each new piece with a pencil.

Step 2
Use an exacto knife to cut through the first layer of the foamcore along your pencil line, but don’t cut through that bottom layer. You just want to create a score line where the piece can bend, not cut the piece in half.

Step 3
Now you need to cut your foamcore into the shape for your branches. Line a ruler up with the center pencil mark at the top, and the outer corner of the bottom. Cut that line on both sides to create a triangle.

You’ll also need to cut the bottom edges so that when each piece is bent to make the branches it will still stand up correctly. You need the outside corners to be right angles, so you can measure that with a protractor and line that angle up with the center point. Then cut along the line you’ve created and repeat for the other side. If you have a self-healing mat used for quilting you don’t even need the protractor. You just line the outside edge up with one of the grid lines and then cut a straight line to the center point.

Step 4
To get the foamcore to bend you need to make some room, which means cutting away some of the foam. This will be the inside so you don’t have to be neat about it. I just tilted by knife to an angle and cut away the foam on either side of the scored center line, being careful not to cut through the front of the foamcore.

Step 5
I made six branches for my design, and once they’re folded in half it’s time to assemble. I lined each piece up to it’s neighbor, keeping them at an angle so they’d fan out instead of having each side stick together. Run a bunch of hot glue down the joint of each piece.

Step 6
To connect the two end pieces together, bend them around to meet and form your cone, then run glue down the joint as best you can from the inside. It doesn’t have to be pretty, it just has to keep things in place.

Step 7
The hard work is done, now it’s just a matter of decorating. You could use any method you can dream up for this, but I wanted to bust out my glitter cardstock and my die cut machine and give this a paper tiling treatment. You just need to pick a basic shape – really, any shape will do – and cut a metric ton of pieces. I would recommend using a shape a little larger than the one I used because I was tiling for days, but the results are pretty great. If you don’t have a die cut machine just use a punch and some elbow grease.

Step 8
To cover up the outer edges of the branches, just bend your paper pieces over the tip.

Step 9
To cover up your center joints, bend your paper pieces in the middle and glue right over the top of it.

Step 10
Whatever shape you use to tile your tree with, it’s won’t be small enough to cover the top of your tree in a way that looks good. So we’re going to cover the top with a little cone. Start by cutting a circle out of coordinating paper, then cut a slit across to the center point. Wrap it around the top and cut off all but about a 1/2″ of the overlapping paper.

Step 11
Bend the cone so that it fits around the branches, then glue it in place.

Step 12
I’m never one to pass up glitter, particularly at Christmas, so I finished by dumping glue all over the tree to add a little white glitter to make it look snowkissed.

Foam Core Christmas Tree
I just love the sharp angles and clean lines of this tree. It brings my love of midcentury design together with my love of everything dripping in glitter to create the perfect Christmas decoration for me. Now I’m toying with the idea of making one even bigger.

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Reload Cereal Bowl

Reload Cereal Bowl
I have been getting way too big a kick out of myself lately. This is just one of a few projects lately that have me cracking up at my punny self. Geddit? Geddit? Once you get to the bottom of the bowl, you have to reload! I’m such a mom. That is total mom humor, but I can’t stop giggling at myself. Still, even if your gift list isn’t full of people who share my sense of humor, I think anyone who spends time on the internet, any tech person, any teenage gamer with a bottomless stomach, would get at least a grin out of this cereal bowl.

Supplies
Supplies are simple. You just need a clear glass bowl – I got mine at the dollar store – glass paint, a printout of the reload symbol sized to fit your bowl, and some tape to hold it all in place.

Step 1
Tape the image on the inside of the bowl, with the printing facing the bottom of the bowl. For this image it doesn’t really matter, but if you were using this technique with words you’d definitely want to reverse it before printing. You have to paint it backwards so that when it’s viewed right side up through the glass it’s the right way across.

Step 2
Use glass paint to trace the image on the bottom of the bowl, using several coats as needed to get the opaque coverage you need.

Step 3
When the black paint is dry, paint the entire back of the bowl gold, using several coats again to get solid coverage.

Step 4
Finish it off with a protective clear coat to really protect that paint job from being scratched off, and let it dry thoroughly.

Reload Bowl
Teenagers and dudes are so hard to shop for, but they’re even harder to make for. That was the whole inspiration behind this project, to come up with something homemade suitable for dudes. But every time I do that I end up making something really cool that would work for a huge swath of people. I think there’s a lesson there, but I’m too focused on what has to get done before Christmas to find it.

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Leather Strip Bracelet

Leather Bracelet
My whole family has just gotten over the flu, and today Atti got back from school with a fever for the second time in two weeks. So if I hadn’t gone in to Christmas wanting to keep things simple, Christmas has certainly become that way. But this bracelet is easy enough to make even from a sick bed. If you can pull yourself off the bathroom floor long enough to make it to the craft store, you can make this bracelet.

Supplies
You will need:
Leather strips – I got mine in a giant bag in the leather good aisle at my craft store. You could always cut your own, too.
Ribbon Crimps – This is a special jewelry clasp with teeth. Sometimes they’re called Ribbon Ends.
2 jump rings
1 larger jump ring
2 tassels – mine are leather tassels from Darice.

Step 1
The leather strips I bought were really thick and stiff, so the first thing I did was soak them in water overnight to make them more pliable. Then I picked out the strips I wanted to use and fed one end of them into one of the Ribbon Crimps. Use a pair of pliers to squish the teeth into the leather.

Step 2
Put each tassel onto one of the jump rings.

Step 3
Then put each jump ring onto the larger jump ring, and that jump ring onto the end of the clasp.

Step 4
Wrap the leather around your wrist twice to measure the length, then trim and attach the other end of the Ribbon Crimp.

Leather Strip Bracelet
I’m kind of obsessed with this bracelet. I think it’s so fashion forward. I love how, by decorating the clasp, you take the annoying propensity of the clasp to fall forward and make it work for you. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have a feverish boy to snuggle.

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Monogrammed Wooden Coasters

Monogrammed Wooden CoastersI don’t know if it’s just that I’m coming off of a hard year and need to keep things kind of simple, or if it’s just happenstance, but every idea I seemed to have this time around could be made in minutes. I had to repeat the stencil idea from yesterday, but instead of freezer paper – which wouldn’t stick to wood – this time we’re using vinyl shelf paper. Another exacto session and a little paint drying and this project is done in time to give to the hostess of the Christmas party that evening.

SuppliesYou will need:
a square wooden piece – I got mine precut in a bundle of 2 at Michael’s, but you could easily cut a piece yourself. You just don’t want it too thick.
a vinyl stencil – If you’ve got a vinyl cutter this is even easier, but without one you just get your image printed out, tape it on top of the shelf paper, and then use an exacto knife to cut through both layers at once.
Paint
Wood Stain

Step 1Peel off the paper backing and stick the stencil to the wooden piece. Take care to burnish all the edges down really tight to make a good seal.

Step 2Paint your image. I found that a thick craft paint worked best for this. Wood stain or dye or markers – anything very watery – will get absorbed by the wood grain and bleed through.

Step 3When your paint is dry, peel off the stencil. Give the edges a good sanding and if you want to distress your paint a little you can give that a sand as well. I like to take down the sharp edges as I’m sanding because I think it gives it a really finished look.

Step 4Use a paper towel or shop rag to rub wood stain over the entire coaster. Make sure to get the edges and the back as well. Let it dry thoroughly.

Step 5Repeat this process until you have a whole set ready for giving.

Wooden CoastersI’m not normally a fan of the rustic – I’m all clean lines and polish – but there’s something about wood that makes me throw all that out the window. I think these are lovely enough to just sit on a tabletop all the time, but because it’s unsealed wood it will also be the most absorbent coaster ever.

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Stenciled Tote Bag

Stenciled Tote Bag
This is another project just like yesterday’s that came from my “Gifts for Dudes” brainstorm session, and once again, it will work for absolutely anyone. But what really inspired this tote bag is Bear. He will not carry a bag. He’ll carry a laptop bag if necessary, but otherwise he’ll just toss things loose in his car, he’ll stuff his pockets, he’ll do without, but he won’t carry a tote. This frustrates me to no end because if we’re together, it means his junk gets put in my bag. I wanted to make this tote to encourage him to carry his own dang stuff, but also to celebrate anyone out there who is caring enough about the environment to use totes instead of worrying about how cool they look.

Step 1
This is a simple freezer paper stencil technique, which is one of my mainstays. It is so very simple and so very effective. You just need a surface to stencil – a tote bag in this case – freezer paper, and paint. It has to be freezer paper (which you’ll find next to the tinfoil) because that has a wax coating on one side that will melt into the fabric just enough to hold it locked in to place.

To make my stencils I just work up my image on the computer and print it out. Then I tape that print out on top of the freezer paper, and use an exacto knife to cut through both layers of paper. Make sure you save the insides of all those letters because you’ll need those to make the stencil look right.

Step 2
Use a hot dry iron to affix the stencil to the tote bag. Those tiny little centers can be tricky, but you’ll want to take care to get those good and stuck. Your image will come out so much cleaner if you do.

Step 3
Then just paint your image. I use regular acrylic craft paint and I never bother with any of those fabric mediums. Especially not with a tote bag that doesn’t require flexibility. When the paint is dry give it a good iron to really heat set that paint in place.

Tote Bag
Not only is this a great project for anyone, but it’s a great super last minute gift. Depending on how handy you are with your exacto knife, you could have this project done and wrapped in a couple of hours. Now that I think about it, this would be a fantastic teacher’s gift too. Every teacher I know has to carry mountains of books and papers around, and if it’s an English teacher, you know they’ll enjoy the pun.

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