Most Popular Projects of 2013

Top Posts for 2013 on Always Expect Moore

I had a lot of fun blogging this year! I blogged here, over at 30 Minute Crafts, CraftSnark, CraftyHangouts, Answers.com and contributed at Craft Test Dummies. So… lots of fun posts, projects, and roundups this year. I thought I’d share with you the most popular projects here at Always Expect Moore this year. Here goes…

10. Whimsical Holiday Entertaining Recipes
One of two sponsored posts to make this year’s top 10 list… this post was so fun to create! I hung out with my husband to come up with some delicious adult beverages, and whipped up some other fun treats as well. Perfect for holiday entertaining… or just entertaining yourself!
Holiday Entertaining with Smart & Final

9. How to Make a Wizard Costume
I love that so many of the top posts were favorites of mine as well! This tutorial on making a Wizard Costume was so much fun to make, and I’m glad so many of you enjoyed it too.
Wizard Costume

8. Fabric Fest Quilts
Teaching at Fabric Fest was one of the high points of 2013, and I loved sharing all my different fast quilts with you… if you’re one that enjoyed this post stay tuned… I have more fun fast quilting to share in 2014!
three jelly roll race quilts

7. Winnie the Pooh Baby Shower
A shower I put together for my Sister in Law last year, this was a fun project. I enjoyed sharing how the theme came together, and the little (and big) ways I incorporated Pooh into this simple shower.
Winnie the Pooh Shower Invitation

6. Hexagon Fabric Bracelet
I remember the night that I was inspired to create the first of these Hexagon Bracelets. I stayed up most of the night stitching them together, I was so excited by this idea!
Hexagon Fabric Bracelet Tutorial

5. Monsters University Juice Box Printables
The second sponsored post to make this list, these juice box printables were so fun to create. I especially loved this project because it was a chance to get my boys involved in crafting.
Monsters University Juice Setup

4. Dr. Seuss “Oh The Places You’ll Go” Wallhanging
This might be my favorite project of the year. I loved everything about it, and will have a hard time coming up with an encore in 2014.
Dr Seuss Oh The Places You'll Go Quilt Wallhanging

3. How to Write a Thank You Note
This post became very popular on Pinterest… which makes me so happy! I’m glad that the world wants to know how to write a good Thank You note. It is such a simple but vitally important thing to know… and I’m glad I could share this tidbit with y’all.
How to Write a Thank You Note

2. Three Printable Boy Baby Shower Games
All three of my SILs had babies in the last 14 months, these printables were created for a shower I was unable to attend, but wanted to help out with. Since they were so much fun, I shared them online.
three printble boy baby shower games - just print, grab pens, and you're all set!

1. Fast and Easy Baby Shower Games
With the popularity of Baby Shower posts, I’m guessing lots of babies were born in 2013! These were three easy to whip together games for a last-minute shower.
Super Easy Baby Shower Games

So there you have it! The top posts for 2013… I can’t wait to start 2014… I have so many fun and exciting projects and posts in store for you!

 

“Gone to the Beach” Seashell Door Hanger

Gone to the Beach door hanger

As winter settles in, forcing me to trade in my flip-flops for socks and sneakers, I long for the beach. Warm days with toes in the sand, watching the waves chase the kiddos. Although I can’t transport myself beach-side… I can pretend. With the help of my “Gone to the Beach” Seashell Door Hanger.

This door hanger is simple to make, I use a few supplies that make it even easier. Here’s what you need to make your own:
Wooden Door Hanger
White Paint
Paintbrush
Seashells
Shell Glue
Paint Pen
Beach Sand
Mod Podge

Start by painting the wooden door hanger. I added a single coat of white paint to give it a white-washed look.

doorhanger

Once the paint has dried, I wrote my saying on the door hanger. You can write whatever saying you like… I went with the classic “Gone to the Beach”.

write on phrase

Start gluing on your shells. I placed my shells on the door hanger without gluing first to get the placement, then glued them down using shell glue. Just put the glue on the parts of the shell that will be touching something – either the wood or another shell.

use shell glue

You want to keep in mind the balance of the door hanger – if you put too much weight on one side, your door hanger won’t hang straight when it is finished.

 

glue shells in place

I wanted to add some more to my door hanger, so I wrapped one side of the hole with baker’s twine, then tied a shell to each end of the twine. This is optional, but I thought it added some more beachy color.

add baker's twine

I was going to leave it, but it seemed… incomplete. I knew exactly what it needed. I mixed beach sand with Mod Podge to create a thick paste. Do this in a container that you are fine tossing when you’re done – you don’t want to rinse beach sand down the drain of your sink if you can help it.

make sand paste

Apply the paste with a paintbrush around, over, and between the shells. I put thick globs in some areas, and brushed the sand lightly over shells in other areas.

put sand paste in place

Once the Mod Podge dries, your door hanger is complete!

close up of shell doorhanger

 

Gilded Holly Holiday Wreath

Gilded Holly Wreath on Always Expect Moore

Wreaths are a great way to spruce up any part of the house that has a door… but especially the front door. I love having a wreath on my front door. I think it makes it welcoming and inviting… before my guest even crosses the threshold. For the last 10 years or so I’ve used my jingle bell wreath… so this year I thought it was time for a new wreath. I whipped up this Gilded Holly Wreath in about an hour… it was simple to make, and has just the right amount of shimmer and glam, while still being simple. Totally my style – and a great way to welcome guests at my front door!

gilded holly leaf wreath suppliesTo make your own wreath you need:
Grapevine Wreath
Holly Leaves (I got mine at Consumer Crafts .com)
Martha Stewart Gilding adhesive & Gilding
Martha Stewart Decoupage in Opal
Paint brushes
Hot Glue
Ribbon

 

 

 

Start by laying out the Holly Leaves – they stick together, so make sure you get them individually laid out. Then run a line of gilding adhesive down one side of the leaf.

paint edges with gilding adhesive

Once the glue goes clear, press the leaves to the gliding sheets.

press leaves to gilding

When you lift up the leaf, if there are any bald spots, just press it back onto the gilding sheet. Once all the bald spots are covered, rub the leaf between your fingers to rub away any extra gilding.

rub off gilding

Once you have all your leaves gilded, put a light coat of decoupage over the leaves. This seals in the gilding and adds a little extra sparkle.

Decoupage over the leaves

While the decoupage dries, which won’t take that long, tie the ribbon around one side of the wreath.

tie bow

Then start gluing the leaves into place.

Hot glue on the back of leaves

I start with the leaves closest to the bow, and then move out, lifting the leaves and adding others underneath.

place leaves

To give the wreath some balance, I added some leaves on other parts of the wreath.

glue extra holly wreaths

And it was that easy!

all holly leaves in place

Giant Classroom Wall Tree

One of the best things about having a school-aged kid is the fun projects. Yes, I’m going to be coming back to this post in a couple years, after drowning in school projects, and laughing at my former self who got excited when teachers asked for help. But right now, in this moment, it is pretty awesome. I love helping out in my son’s classroom, and this is one of those fun projects.

Little Moore’s teacher is a self-described non-crafty man. I offered to help out with some crafty projects, as needed. He wanted a big tree in the hallway that could be changed out for the seasons. Basically, just the trunk and branches. I told him that not only would I make it, but it would be awesome. Because I’m a lot of things… but humble is not one of them (however, awesome is totally one of them – ha!).

I’m not giving you a step-by-step here because I’m pretty sure that the demand for giant tree tutorials isn’t worth the time it’ll take me to edit the photos… but I’ll give you the highlights.

Classroom Tree with my Kindergartener

I prepped the trunk at home. I used Foamcore cut into the right shape. The “carving” on the tree is a piece of styrofoam. I carved the heart and the word “school” into the heart, then covered it in Smooth Finish. After the Smooth Finish hardened, I painted it brown, with the carving a lighter brown so it would really stand out.

Tree trunk with Styrofoam Smooth Finish Carving

At the top of the trunk, I put a piece of cork. This way the teacher can easily switch out things in the hole in the tree.

Classroom Tree Cork Board

I lined up my foam core, styrofoam, and cork pieces, and Duck Taped them together. I used some extra cardboard on the back to give some extra strength to the seams. Then I added on the bark.

The bark is crumpled up paper from a Fed Ex Box. It was already crumpled up, which was perfect. I just wrinkled it more, and used a TON of Mod Podge to secure it onto the tree trunk. Lots and lots of texture. Once that all dried, I used a sponge and some brown paint, lightly went over the whole trunk with the brown paint in spots (more texture!). Then gave the whole thing a thick coat of Mod Podge. So thick that it isn’t fully dry in these photos, and you can see some of the white!

The branches were fun to do.

Classroom Tree Branches

When I put the rest of the brown paper trunk on, I left 5 long pieces hanging off of the top, then took the trunk to school. I used a staple gun to secure the tree to the wall. Then I twisted the brown paper branches into place, using the staple gun to secure them. I tore off any extra, and added sub-branches off the 5 main branches. Once all the branches were up, they got a quick swipe of brown paint sponged on, and then a coat of Mod Podge.

It took about 5 hours at home, and about another 2-3 at the school… but this tree looks awesome.

Any volunteers to try to take it down at the end of the year?

Beating on Walls Canvas

Cool 2 Cast Quote Canvas

 

When I found this quote, I knew I wanted to turn it into a canvas. It is something that I should remember. I’m very guilty of beating on walls, trying to turn them into doors. I’m hoping I’ve gotten a little better at differentiating doors from walls as I’ve gotten a little older… but I think I still have some room for improvement!

I wanted to have something that looked a little like a brick wall – but in a fun, mixed-media way. I knew just what to use. I’d been sent some Cool2Cast to review for Craft Test Dummies, and it is perfect for mixed-media projects.

Making the canvas was actually pretty easy to do… and lots of fun since I got to play with all kinds of craft supplies in making it.

I started by getting my mold. This is a mold for making brownie bites, but I don’t use it for that. It has held different kinds of resin and epoxy, so now it is exclusively a crafting mold. I put different buttons in the bottoms of the cavities of the mold. Then I mixed up my Cool2Cast and poured it into the cavities, trying to fill each one about the same amount.

pour in cool 2 cast

I let the Cool2Cast set for the required time, then popped it out of the molds.

remove from molds

The medium was still soft enough for me to scratch off any that that covered the buttons. I dipped my finger in water to rub away any remnants of Cool2Cast, then wiped the buttons clean with a paper towel.

wet wipe away excess

I let the squares dry completely overnight. I painted my canvas with a pearlized acrylic paint, and let it dry overnight as well.

The next day, I laid the tiles out on the canvas to figure out placement for my lettering. First I lightly sketched out the letters in pencil for placement, then I used my DecoArt Glass writing pen to write out my quote.

write quote

Then I painted the pieces. I used different paints, sprays, and markers on the different pieces for a fun, mixed-media look.

spray with paint

paint

After the paint dried, I glued all the tiles down onto the canvas. That was it!

quote canvas

Cool 2 Cast Eyeball Jar

Eyeball Tin

This bloody eyeball jar is super simple to put together with the right supplies. I painted it up nice and bloody, and my kids think it is just the right mixture of bloody and creepy. But, they are boys, so their perspective might be a little… well… male! I think it is lots of fun, though, and a great little bit of gore to add to your Halloween mantle or Halloween display.

paint the tinTo make your Eyeball Jar you need:
Cool 2 Cast (similar to plaster, but faster drying)
Eyeball mold (this is actually a mold for candy-covered Oreos!)
Small tin
Paint
Paintbrushes
Glue

 

Start by mixing up your Cool 2 Cast. The directions are right there on the package – just water and the powder mixed well in a zip-sealed bag. Mix well.

Pour the mixture into the molds. Let dry for an hour or so.

pour in Cool 2 Cast

Pop the molds out. You can let them dry fully overnight, or start painting.

Paint the side of the tin to look like blood dripping down the sides. Start with the outlines.

paint drip outlines

Then fill in the paint. So gross! But in a totally good way.

paint in drips

Just let the paint dry, and you’re all set.

finished eyeball jar

Give the little eyeball tin as a gift, with something sweet inside. You can add a note “I’ve got my eye on you!”

Smooth Finish Styrofoam Eye Box

eyeball box

I got to play with Styrofoam’s Smooth Finish, and decided that with Halloween coming, it was the perfect chance to make an eyeball box. It took less than 30 minutes of hands-on time to put it together, and I’m loving the way it turned out! My kiddos think it is pretty awesome, too.

To make your own eyeball box you need:
Small tin (got mine in the discount section at Michael’s)
Styrofoam Ball
Smooth Finish
Sponge or paper towel
Water
Fine grit sandpaper
Paint & Paintbrushes
Glue

Start by cutting your foam ball in half, and putting on the Smooth Finish. Once you have it in all the nooks and crannies, wipe it down with a wet sponge or damp paper towel to smooth it.

wipe down the smooth finish

Let dry fully. Overnight. Or a couple days… whichever. Then use fine grit sandpaper to smooth out any rough spots.

sand smooth

Pick your paint colors. I chose 2 tones of green for the eye, in addition to red and black (not shown).

select paints

Start by painting the iris.

paint on iris

Use both colors to get a more realistic look. Then paint on red blood vessels with a fine-tipped paintbrush.

paint on veins

Add the black pupil in the middle.

glue on to tin

Lastly, glue the eyeball to the top of your tin, and you’re all done!

eyball box with smooth finish

Carved Styrofoam Pumpkin

Styrofoam Pumpkin

Between Halloween and Fall Decor, you can’t really have too many pumpkins… I thought I would carve up a styrofoam pumpkin to use as part of my decor. It was fairly simple to do…

To carve your own styrofoam pumpkin, you’ll need:
Styrofoam ball
Styrofoam Cutter
Styrofoam carving tools
Smooth Finish
Sponge & Water
Paint
Leaves from the floral dept.

Start by cutting the top and bottom off of the styrofoam ball. This gives it a steady base.

cut off base

Cut six small wedges out of the curved sides of the styrofoam ball.

cut in wedges

Use the styrofoam carving tools to smooth out the edges.

carve foam pumpkin

Open up your Smooth Finish and spread it into the crannies of the styrofoam. Get it as smooth as you like.

smooth finish spread on foam

You can use a damp sponge to smooth out the Smooth Finish. I smoothed mine out a little bit, but I wanted to keep some texture.

I let the pumpkin dry. Overnight is fine, but I ended up letting it dry for a few days.

smooth finish covered pumpkin

I could sand the pumpkin down a little at this point if I didn’t like the texture, but I really did like the texture.

paint pumpkin

I got out my Multi-surface paint (the color is spiced pumpkin), and painted the whole thing. It only took one coat to paint.

Finished Styrofoam Pumpkin

After the paint dried, I stuck a faux leaf and stem from the floral section into the top of the pumpkin, and it was all done!

Sweet Tea Picnic Made Easy (and Nine-Patch Napkins)

Sweet Tea Picnic

Recently, I was invited by Davidson’s Organics and Missouri Star Quilt Company to create a picnic. I couldn’t refuse. I’ve become something of a homebody, and anything to get me out of the house is a good thing! Plus, my son loves picnics. I kept this picnic simple, easy, and most of all, fun. They sent me sweet tea and fat-eighths of fabric to play with, in exchange for sharing my experience with all of you.

I packed up a picnic basket so that my son and I could spend the afternoon at the park.

pack up the picnic basket

I kept it simple. Mason jars with ice tea spoons, some snacks, honey for sweetening up my tea, my nine-patch napkins (more on those in a bit), and a juice box… because most 5 year olds aren’t big tea drinkers. Oh… and those big mason jars? Those are my secret weapon for packing an easy picnic.

One large mason jar is filled with ice. The other is filled with hot water and tea. The tea takes 5-7 minutes to brew. Which is about how long it takes to walk to the park from my house. So, while the water is boiling, I pack up the rest of the basket. Once the water is hot, I pour it into the mason jar, add my tea bags, pop on the lid, wrap a towel around the jar, and off we head to the park!

brew sweet tea on the go

By the time we get there, my tea is brewed, and I can pour the ice and tea into the smaller mason jars for drinking! Super easy. And while I sip my tea, my kiddo can do lots of this:

slide at the park

This made for a perfect fall afternoon with my kiddo. He’s growing up so fast!

With the fat eighths of fabric sent to me as part of my picnic package, I whipped up some nine-patch napkins. These are easy to make. Not quite as easy as the tea… but pretty simple.

I started with my fabric and 4 linen/cotton napkins.

nine patch napkin supplies

I cut the fabric into strips, 2.5″ wide, then stitched the strips into sets of 3. I pressed the seams so that half of the sets had the seams facing out, and half had the seams facing in.

two sets of strips

Then I sub-cut these into 2.5″ strips.

cut strip sets

I piled up the sets. The row on the right has the seams pointing out, and the row on the left has the seams pointing in.

I paired up strip sets to make four pairs, each using one strip from the right row, and one from the left row. Because the seams were pressed in opposite directions, they nest into each other perfectly, making for perfect intersections where the seams all meet.

I then added another strip to one side of each pair, making nine-patches.

pink the edges

Instead of leaving the edges raw, or trying to turn them under, I used pinking shears to trim the edges. This will keep them from fraying, and I really like the look of a pinked edge.

I pinned each square to one corner of a napkin.

pin squares in place

Then I stitched each square in place.

stitch down nine patch

It was that easy! We’ve got this picnic basket as a wedding gift, and until now I’ve always used paper napkins. I’m so glad I now have a set of nice picnic napkins to go in my picnic basket!

quilted napkins

Thanks again to Davidson’s Organics and Missouri Star Quilt Company for letting me join in on the fun!

Tips for Donating School Supplies (scissors, craft supplies, and more!)

I am a member of the Collective Bias®  Social Fabric® Community.  This shop has been compensated as part of a social shopper insights study for Collective Bias and their client.

My son started Kindergarten almost a month ago. It doesn’t seem possible. I’m now trying to juggle Mommy & Me events for my little one, and PTA meetings for my oldest’s new school. The school is fairly new – it has been around for 4 years – but much of the staff this year is new. Brand new. My son has a freshly-minted Kindergarten teacher. This man (yes, he’s got a male teacher), not only has to navigate a morning and afternoon class of 25 Kindergarteners each, but also 50 sets of parents!

Not only does he not come with years of experience, but he also doesn’t come with a classroom loaded with supplies collected across decades. It was important to me to let him know that I’m a parent who wants to support my child, and my child’s school. That’s why I was super excited to be selected to participate in this Fiskar’s Champions for Kids Campaign. Fiskars sent me money to buy school supplies that I could donate to my son’s new classroom!

tips for donating school supplies

From this experience, I want to share with you some tips for donating school supplies.

1. Ask – Ask the teacher what they need. For a new teacher like ours, the answer might be “everything!” Ask specific questions. Maybe the teacher has a project coming up that could use certain supplies? One of the things we picked out was a class set of Fiskars safety scissors. There are 25 kids in a class, so we picked out 28 pairs (you always need a few extras) of scissors. This will last our rookie teacher for years! We also picked some Fiskars wooden rulers that were both inexpensive and will stand up to a room full of Kindergarteners, year after year.

classroom set of scissors

2. Variety – Some things we know every teacher needs – pencils, paper, erasers. Think beyond the everyday. We chose a set of colorful dry erase markers. Our classrooms are equipped with large dry erase boards, and there is nothing as wonderful as having a nice, fresh, dry erase marker to write with!

bin of school supplies

3. Storage – Especially for a new teacher, storage is important! Though a teacher will never turn away a grocery bag filled with school supplies, it helps to think ahead. Once those 28 sets of scissors are taken out of their packages, where will they be stored? Giving the school supplies in plastic bins means the supplies will have a place to go after they are opened. Using clear bins means that it is very easy for the teacher to see what is inside, and find what he needs.

 

4. Duplicates – At the beginning of the school year, each student was sent home a list of basic supplies. Things like glue and crayons that they will need this year. If a student wasn’t able to bring these in, or if they run out, having duplicates on hand will help the teacher focus on the more important things – like the lesson he is teaching. I made sure to include extras of things like markers and crayons.

two bins of school supplies

5. Specialty Items – Do you remember being in school, and there was something special you couldn’t wait to play with? So you’d finish your work as fast as possible so that you could go play with that toy? Think of fun extras you can donate. I chose a giant set of 50 Crayola Pipsqueak markers that telescopes into a tower. The teacher can set these on a table for kids to color with after finishing their work, as a fun reward.

6. Get others involved – Do your part, but then encourage others to join in as well. Set an example for the community, and your family. I made sure my son was involved, so that he could see the impact these supplies have on his classroom.

get kids involved

7. Have fun! – Donating school supplies is giving a gift that will continue to have an impact in the lives of children, potentially for years. That makes it fun. But, I chose to have a little more fun, and I picked up a few things for myself to make a little fun something for my son to bring to school. I’ll share that with you here below.

 

When L goes to school, he misses us. It is only for 3 hours a day, but he’s still adjusting to the new building, the new kids, and the new routine. And it is hard. When I saw this little “lucky” book on the Fiskars website, I was inspired to make something similar to attach to my son’s backpack, so that he could bring a little reminder of his family to school each day.

supplies for photo tagsSupplies:

Tags
Photos
Fiskars Trimmer
Fiskars Scissors
Elmer’s Glue Stick
Elmer’s School Glue
Elmer’s Glitter Glue
Elmer’s Boarders
Metal Ring
Assorted Ribbons
Paintbrush

 

Start by trimming your photos smaller than your tags. The original album uses chipboard, but I wanted something smaller and lighter to hang on my son’s bag, so I went with the tags. Put a border on each tag, trim off the excess with scissors, and then glue the photo in place with the glue stick.

prepare tags

Put school glue on top of the photo, and brush an even coat with the paintbrush. This protects the photo, and seals everything in place.

coat in Elmer's School Glue

I did the same thing with glitter glue.

coat with glitter glue

Put everything aside to dry.

sealed with glue

Tie the ribbons onto the metal ring. To help keep the knots secure, add a couple drops of school glue to the knots.

glue knots in place

Then just hang it on your child’s bag, so they can take a little love with them to school each day!

backpack love tags

For more information, check out Champions for Kids and  Champions for Kids on Facebook.

#cfk  #Fiskars4Kids #shop