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!

Fast and Easy Baby Shower Games

I love hosting showers, and today I’m hosting a shower with some bloggy friends of mine, for four blogging friends who are all expecting!

Super Easy Baby Shower Games

When I plan showers with friends, I’m almost always in charge of the games. I like to come up with games that suit the mommy-to-be. Since for this virtual shower we’re celebrating four different mommies, I thought I’d stick with some of the classics… which also happen to be my favorites.

First comes the safety pin game. This can also be played with clothespins, and is often called “Don’t Say Cute”. Everyone is given a safety pin when they come into the shower, and are instructed that they can’t say the word “cute”. If they do, the person who catches them gets to take their pin. The person with the most pins at the end of the shower wins! I like to add a little color to my pins with some ribbon. You could also use the big diaper pins, if you can find them.

safety pin baby shower game

Another classic is guessing how big mommy’s tummy is. All you need for this game is some yarn or string, and a pair of scissors. I like to use a piece of ribbon or a different color of yarn to measure around mom’s tummy. It makes it easy to see which is the “true” and which was the player’s guess!

guess mamas tummy shower game

Lastly, I love playing baby shower bingo. You can download my baby shower bingo card if you like, or make your own. I love that it livens up the gift giving! Instead of just watching mom open gifts, the guests become really invested on what will be opened next!

You can get instructions for my super-easy prize bags here, and find more great baby shower games here.

Be sure to check out all the moms-to-be

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… and all the other great projects included in this fun virtual baby shower!

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How to Write a Thank You Note

Writing a Thank You Note is a lost art. With all the technological ways we have to give our thanks – Facebook, Twitter, Texts, e-mails… the hand-written thank you note is dying.

How to Write a Thank You Note

I’m not saying that every thank-you needs to be hand-written. Sometimes, a simple text message is best. Sometimes, giving the person a shout-out on Facebook so that all your friends can share in the awesomeness is the perfect touch. And any way that you reach out to thank someone is better than not thanking them at all. But there are times that a hand written thank you note is the best way to express your gratitude.

Starting your Thank You Note

You can start with a salutation of some kind. “Dear Auntie” might sound stuffy, so you can start with “Hello” or jump right into your note.

Thank them specifically

Start your note by saying thank you, and give the reason why. Say “Thank you for the wonderful gift” or “Thank you for sharing your time.” “Thank you for taking time out of your day.” Be specific as to why you are thanking them.

Tell them why you are greatful

Don’t stop at thanking them for their action. Tell them the significance of their actions or gift. Phrases like, “It meant so much to me that you took time out of your day to help me with my project, having you there made it go much more smoothly, and the finished result was better than I could have imagined.” tell the recipient that they mattered. When thanking a person for a gift, tell them what you love about the gift. “I love the sewing kit and have it tucked in my bag – it is so helpful for small projects on the go, and it has already come in handy on several occasions.”

Thanking someone for money or a gift card

Thanking someone for money or a gift card calls for special attention. Let them know what the gift has been used for, or will be used for. “Thanks so much for the check. I’ve deposited it in my savings account so that I can use it on my upcoming vacation. I’ll be sure to think of you when I’m relaxing on the beach!” “The Target gift card has already come in handy – I bought some cute and colorful new tops for myself.”
When thanking someone for money or a gift card, don’t mention the amount. The value of the gift is not measured in dollars, it is measured in your appreciation for their kindness.

End the thank you note with a forward-looking message

If you can, use a forward-looking message to end the thank you note. Tell them you look forward to seeing them soon, or at a specific upcoming event. If you have no plans to see the person in the future, tell them you look forward to seeing them online, or seeing their photos on Facebook. Make a final, shared connection with the recipient of your thank you note.

Use an appropriate sign-off

End your note with a sign-off that feels appropriate. “Sincerely” might feel too formal for a situation like this, so try “Love”, “with thanks”, “thanks again”, or (my favorite) a symbol like a heart or a smiley face.

 

Remember that the most important part of writing a thank you note is saying thank you. If someone gave you a gift – a present, time, money, they gave it because they wanted you to have it. Showing your appreciation for what they gave – in whatever form you can show that appreciation – is the way that you value that gift.

 

Ice Cream Pizzas

My 4-year old loves Team Umizoomi. If you don’t have small kids, you don’t know that Team Umizoomi is a team of 3 tiny cartoon characters (4 if you count Umi Car), who run around Umi City helping their friends by using their “Mighty Math Powers”.

Team Umizoomi has helped to teach my son math issues like units of measure, identifying patterns, and shapes. They also reinforce proper social behavior like sharing and helping friends. One of my son’s favorite episodes is about Ice Cream Pizzas. The ice cream truck has broken down, and can’t get down the street to bring ice cream treats to the neighborhood children. The ice cream treat of choice is the ice cream pizza. My son asked me if we could make ice cream pizzas together, so of course I said yes!

We had to start by getting our ingredients. Large sugar cookies, vanilla ice cream (which I allowed to soften) and gummy candies. In the show they use a striped candy. Since we couldn’t find the right color striped candy, I went with these gummy candies that are the right color, but weren’t the right size. I cut them down to size for our pizzas.

I spread the softened ice cream on to cookies. I had softened the ice cream so that it was about the consistency of margarine.

I cut up the gummy candies and then let my son put them on. Team Umizoomi used 5 candies on their ice cream pizza, and so did we.

All that was left was to chow down! Nom!