Friday, March 29, 2013

My Easter Lilies

A year ago, my friend who is the RCIA director at my church (and who was also my sponsor when I became Catholic), asked me to decorate the Fellowship Hall for the Easter Vigil.  I begrudgingly agreed.  Here are the truths I knew when I agreed, and if you attend a church of any denomination you already know this:  You will use the previous years' decorations, they will be sight-unseen until you get there and horrible, and you will have this job forever.

All I can say is that after I decorated last year, I felt I would never be asked to do it again.  It looked terrible.  I had a vast array of mismatched candles, chalices, floral pieces, statuary, and table cloths to work with from storage... and I didn't have the talent to hide that fact!

Much to my surprise, I was asked to do it again (clearly they were desperate), but I was asked two weeks in advance so I had time to make stuff!  And... my friend in charge told me she wanted a mostly white palette!  I had in my mind from the year before that I would make life-size lilies, but I knew that I hadn't seen them on any Cricut cartridge and so I went to the most logical source, the master paper gardener, Michelle Nun.  Michelle has a blog called Scrap N Grow and makes perfectly life-like paper versions of real flowers!  I contacted her to see if she had any ideas... not only did she respond, but she created a tutorial for me, complete with photos.  What she didn't know is that I have a black thumb when it comes to both real and paper flowers.  I could never make flowers as perfect as hers, but she had given me so many incredible ideas and tips that I knew I was close!  Michelle created a trumpet shape-- just what I wanted and just what I couldn't seem to do.  Part of my problem is that I didn't want to use CCR to form the whirl that I needed.  I am just stubborn I guess.... Gluing the petals together to form the three-petal whirl wasn't working out.

I found a post by Lia Griffith where she provided a PDF of her own water-color lily petals, leaves, stamens, and stigmas to make beautiful lilies.  I realized that I could use the petals that Michelle found on the Giant Flowers cartridge (so I wouldn't have to hand-cut) and use Michelle's idea of adding color to each petal... and use Lia's idea of using individual petals so I wouldn't have to use software!  I was in love with the combinations of these two artists' ideas!

So, what I ended up with is not a true Easter lily. (I hope Michelle will forgive me for my inability with the software and for having to make changes to her absolutely perfect flower).  Unlike Michelle's botany-perfect lily, mine is sort of a lily-tulip with a carnation stem... but it worked!  And it was approved! Because it was such a process, I thought I would share my tutorial, in case you find yourself in need of a lily-tulip-with-a-carnation-stem.  Ha!

I cut petals from Giant Flowers at 6".  Each flower requires 6 petals.  This is key #20 on the keypad.  I used watered-down acrylic paints to add color to the centers.

While the petals dried, I made the stems.

I found white, covered, 20 gauge floral wire at Hobby Lobby in value pack sizes.  I bent those in half.  I cut 4 pieces of lacing 4" each and placed them in the bent wire so that I would have 8 stamens.  I wrapped them with white floral tape to keep them together.  (The lacing is glow in the dark-- perfect color in the light, but I wonder what the custodian will think when he walks into the Fellowship Hall and sees the glow at the tables before the lights get flipped on.  Hopefully, he will keep my secret!)
The lacing was also from Hobby Lobby and a 100 yard roll is only around $2.

I found that I could dip the tips of the lacing in Scotch Quick Dry Glue and then into Zing embossing powder (color 'mustard') to color the tips.

I used a bit of the watered-down acrylic paint I used for the petals to paint over the floral tape and upper couple of inches of stem.  Watercolors will not work to color the floral tape, by the way, but the acrylics do.  I used a Styrofoam block to stick the stems in while they dried.  

Meanwhile, I collected my petals and cut a snip in the bottom about half-way up the petal.  

Then, I hot-glued the bottom edges, overlapping to make the petals 'cup'.  This is an idea I saw on Lia's tutorial and had noticed on other flowers from the Giant Flowers cartridge.  I used a scissor blade to scrape the back of the petal to make it curl back.  I trimmed the bottom after the glue cooled.  I used a standard hole punch (the office kind) to punch a little hole in the bottoms of each petal.

I fitted the first petal in place over the floral tape area.  Hot glue won't stick to the tape, so the mere thickness of that tape-covered stem is what holds up that first petal.  I hot glued the next three petals to form a triad.  The last three petals slip on and get hot glued to fill in the spaces between.

Next, I cut leaves for the stem.  I used the same Giant Flowers cartridge, key #10 and also cut at 6".  You need 5 leaves for each stem.  I used a bit of the scraps from the leaves to cut a 1" (or so) piece of paper to cover over the top of the stem. I bent the bloom over by bending the stem.  The scrap covers that.  I fold it in half and hot glue it in place.

Next, I use one of the leaves, fold it lengthwise and lay it over the scrap.

The remaining 4 leaves get curled by scraping over a scissor blade.  I fold them and lay them on the stem alternating front and back to cover the wire, hot gluing each one over the previous end.

I made them in batches and eventually moved down to my kitchen table, that I covered in brown paper.

I curved the stems to make them a little more interesting and to stabilize them on the tables.

In the end, I made just over 50 and laid them on the tables in lines of 2, 3, and 4 flowers (depending on the lengths of the tables) arranged bloom-to-bloom and stem-to-stem with candles in between.  The wire stems allowed me to tilt the blooms to the left and right and I alternated them.

For the buffet table, I made a wreath using four of my lilies.  For other flowers, I used Juliana Michael's flower tutorial from the old Cricut Circle when we had the wonderful, inspiring Design Team (the good ole days).  She used the Mother's Day Bouquet cartridge.  The larger flowers were cut at 2-1/4" with key #8.  The centers were cut at 1-1/4" with key #27.  I used the centers only for the small flowers on my wreath, making just as Juliana instructed, but by themselves.  You can find her tutorial on YouTube since the Circle Blog is dead now (click here).

The text "REJOICE" was cut from Art Nouveau at 1-1/4".  (OK, I admit it, the J is backwards in this photo.  If you didn't notice, I just love you.  If you did notice, I love you for not mentioning it!  I am hoping to sneak back to the room to fix it before anyone notices...)  The banner was cut from the Holiday Frames and Tags cartridge at 'fit to page' (I think that was around 3-1/2".)  I found an inexpensive straw wreath from Walmart, removed the plastic wrapper and wrapped it in 6" wide tulle (to enclose that straw and to dress the surface up a bit).  I hot glued the flowers and banner in place.  Two of my lilies were attached with stems.  The other two were snipped so that the stem was not visible or only 3" or so was visible.  I added a few extra leaves that I curled.

Next time, I am covering my fingers in band-aids before I even start... I might have prevented the burns I got from the hot glue... and they ended up bandaged any way.  Yikes!

Quick links:

Thank you for checking my blog post today!  I hope that you are having a meaningful Holy Week!  

Thursday, March 14, 2013

St. Patty's Day Birthday Gift Bag

One of my daughter's little BFFs has a birthday on St. Patty's Day so I came up with a little gift bag for her with a birthday leprechaun.

I keep on-hand 7-1/2" x 10-1/2" kraft paper gift bags-- that was my base.  (That is the measurement minus the handles.)  I cut the jumping leprechaun from Simply Charmed (page 32) at 7".

The thing with a big cut is that you kind of have to add extra details and pop up some elements to keep the die cut from flattening out.  For this little guy, I hand-cut an extra lock of hair.  I glued it flush on the 'scalp end' and popped it up with 1/8" pop dots on the 'curl end'.  I also popped up his little hat and added a shamrock to the hat band cut from A Child's Year (page 31), cut at 3/4".  I added a vest layer to his outfit but cutting two jackets and cutting one away so that I could layer them and see the second layer, like a vest.  I added adhesive pearls for vest buttons.  I hand-cut lapels for the top layer, the jacket, and added a breast pocket and pocket square.  

To make him a 'birthday' leprechaun, I cut a little cupcake from Something to Celebrate (page 22) at 1".  I only cut the first two layers since it was so tiny.  I cut a "9" candle from the same cart (page 30) at 3/4".  I hand-colored (with pencils) the flame and wick.

To give him a "place" to exist, I trimmer-cut rainbow-colored solids and layered them to create a ground and horizon line.  I placed a couple of tiny shamrocks, cut from A Child's Year at 1/2".  I popped the leprechaun up with 1/8" pop dots to lift him off the surface a bit.

Lastly, for a tag, I cut a last shamrock, also from A Child's Year, at 3-1/4", and tied it on with 1/8" ribbon.

Lately, I have taken a little inventory of my Cricut cartridges and, as you have also probably figured out, there are many repeating icons among them!  I used to 'need' all the cartridges and came pretty close to getting them all before last autumn.  The good thing about this economy, hopefully there is a silver lining, is that many of us have gotten a chance to re-prioritize and to be more creative!  So... if you don't have the cartridges listed above, you can find shamrocks on the following cartridges that you may have:

  • Create-A-Critter 2
  • Designer's Calendar
  • Elmo and Friends Holiday
  • Give A Hoot
  • Imagine More Cards
  • Celebrate with a Flourish
  • Paper Doll Dress Up
  • Phrases 
  • Spring Fever
  • Holiday Cards
You can find leprechauns on the following cartridges that you may have:
  • CCR Exclusive:  St. Patrick's Day
  • Teddy Bear Parade
  • Paper Doll Dress Up
A cupcake image can be found on dozens of cartridges.  This is just a sampling:
  • A Child's Year
  • American Alphabet
  • Best Images of 2006 and 2009
  • Birthday Bash
  • Create-A-Critter 1 and 2
  • Storks Delivery
  • Divine Wedding
  • Doodlecharms
  • Elmo's Party
  • Every Day Paper Dolls
  • Hello Kitty Greetings... and the list goes on and on!!!!
Numbers can be found on any cartridge with font of course.

 Thank you for checking my post today!  You can always find my blog on: 

To see many of my other paper projects, check out My Project Gallery (click here).

To see my previous St. Patrick's Day projects, click here.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

State Fair Birthday Party!

My sweet Piper is 9 this year!  After telling me she was too old for theme parties last year, she asked me for a "State Fair" theme for this year's kid party.  (Go figure!) This party was on a tight budget so this was all about home-spun fun!

I started with the invitations.

I thought the party would be easier for the kids and their moms to remember if packaged with goodies.  OK, I admit it:  that was stupid.  First of all, these are 8-year-old girls.  That means that they have been talking about this for some time daily at school.  They had been excited since the play date at our house a couple of weeks before when a few of them were over here.  And... they ate all stuff in the treat bag and didn't always show the tag part to a parent!  They loved our invitations though and they all showed up so I might do the same thing all over again in the future.

The invitations were from Cricut Imagine cartridge Imagine More Cards (page 15) at 5" using only layers 1 and 2.  The banners were cut from Cricut Carousel at 3/4".   I printed the text using my computer and printer.  "For You" was stamped on.

The party was mostly led by the kids and I stuck in party activities as quickly as I could after cleaning up from the previous activity, including face painting, cotton candy making, sack race, ring toss, duck pond game, fair-themed dinner, gifts, and photos taken in our make-shift 'photo booth'.  It seemed to work out perfectly-- mostly because the girls are happy to play together and all get along so beautifully!  They are loud, but sweet to one another-- cannot ask for anything better!

I found face painting supplies at Michael's Crafts.

I found the cotton candy machine and kit with extra supplies at Meijers.  OK- it took us a while to get the hang of this thing!  The key, which we discovered late in the game, although it is illustrated (poorly) in the manual, is to hold the cone parallel to the counter after you have started the process to build a big puff of cotton candy.  Here, you can see, we were still getting it wrong... and yet the girls loved this thing and stood in line over and over to keep trying it.  Two of the girls told me they wanted to get one for their party this year... so I took that as a thumbs up on this activity.

Piper specifically requested a duck pond game so that all of her guests would win a prize.  I used duckies I had left over from Halloween (I give out duckies to the babies at Halloween) and a blue tray.

Quick ring toss was played as they waited for kids to arrive who didn't ride home with us at the start of the party.  (Getting to ride home with Piper after school is apparently when the party starts-- I know the girly squealing does!)  The rings were cut from poster board on the Cricut using Artiste (page 56) at 3-1/2" with multi cut 4.

I found sacks for a sack race at Hobby Lobby.

I found 'midway prizes' the day or so after Valentine's Day for 75% off at Walmart and Meijer.  I removed the tags and added winner ribbons I made on my Cricut using Artiste and a coordinating CTMH stamp that came with the Artiste bundle.

The blue center was cut from Artiste (page 35) at 2-1/2".  The pink layer behind it was cut from the same cartridge at 2-3/4" (accent 3-shift).  The tails were also cut from the same cart (accent4- shift) at 1/2".

Because I knew part of what I wanted to give my daughter was a photo album of the party, I bought things that I thought would make fun pictures... like the lips that fit over straws that I found in the party section of Hobby Lobby.

The photo booth was definitely the biggest hit.  It was the last thing we did and was the perfect send-off as parents arrived to pick up kids.  I simply tacked up a piece of cloth I had been storing on a tube (wrinkle free) and offered a table full of clown noses, mustaches and glasses on sticks, stick-on 'staches, giant clown glasses, and boas.  I snapped pictures of the girls as they grouped themselves with pals.  The girls loved this-- I had no idea how well this would go over!

I made several of the props using the Cricut Billionaire cartridge, cutting mustache #1 at 3" and 2" and mustache #2 at 4-1/2".  The glasses were cut from the same cart at 3-3/4".  The cartridge offers a base cut and a shadow and I used them both in the same color to make the card stock props heavy enough.  I attached dowels I had on hand with duct tape to the backs and they held up perfectly.

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I had lots of duplicate pictures printed (gotta love those photo processing sales at Walgreens) so that Piper could tuck in several pics with each of her hand-written thank you notes that she delivered to school the following Monday.

The menu included pizza and mini corn dogs, fresh strawberries and veggies, pink lemonade, chips, a cookie cake and ice cream.  Years ago, I hosted a farm-theme baby shower and went BIG, purchasing cow and pig serving pieces.  I was so excited for this party when I made the fair animal connection so I could use my pig and cow serving pieces again.  (They are hard to work in to most dinner parties-- haha.)

In addition to all their prizes, all the girls left with a favor bag that included a ducky, mini pie, rock candy, and a clown nose.  I made the toppers using a shrunken-down version of one of the 2010 Kentucky State Fair posters with the text amended to personalize it to my kiddo's party.  I also added a mini banner just like the ones on the invitations, cut from Carousel at 3/4".

According to my kiddo and the other parents, our guests were talking about this party all the next week, so I felt like my home-spun, budget-friendly party was a success.

As all moms know, a kid's birthday isn't just about the kid party.  There's also a family dinner-- we like to invite as many extended family members as can come-- and serve a big meal, not just cake and ice cream.

There's also cupcakes sent to school.  We also send treats to ballet class.

I wanted to show a fun trick I learned when sending cupcakes.   This makes it easy for kids to go home with their treats instead of expecting to eat them in places like ballet class where there's no real place for a food mess.

I sent mini-cupcakes, but any size will work.  You just trim down a clear drinking cup to just taller than the height of the cupcake and place it in a clear bag.  That's it!  They stay pretty and protected and are easy to hand out.

For mini cupcakes, I used 8oz cups and shaped party bags.  This is even how I send cupcakes in my daughter's lunch box on special days.  (Just remember to look at the bottoms of the cups to be sure they are a bit bigger than your cupcake bottoms!)

So we survived the week of birthday preparations and celebrations-- on budget, on time, and my kiddo and her friends were happy!  My last chore was a photo album for my daughter with pictures from her parties with all of her friends and family.  This was made so easy by picking up a youthful paper pack and a bright album (and extra pages to be sure I could use all those photos I snapped).  I had in my mind a masterpiece of scrapbooking pages, but let's face it, I wanted her to get this thing before she was too old to remember it!  I opted for simple pages, many are just photos ATG-ed onto fun papers.  It ended up being 28 pages and I made a place in the back for her to keep her birthday cards.  I gave it to her the week after her birthday.

She is very big on what she calls 'memory books' and during the last tornado warning, packed a few of them with her.  I love that pictures are important to her.  I was never given copies of photos after my childhood parties, trips, or events, but always wanted them!

Thank you for checking my blog post today.  To see my previous crafted birthday parties:

To see many of my previous paper projects, check out My Project Gallery (or click here).

But wait! There's more! Click 'older posts' above!

But wait!  There's more!  Click 'older posts' above!