Wednesday, October 30, 2013

How to Transform a Straight Border into a Curved Border

How to transform a straight border into a curved border

I love the look of painted plates, but I don’t have the time or energy to actually paint them myself. Why should I when I can pick up a pack of rub–ons? But, what do you do when the rub–on borders are straight, and your plate is round?


See the pumpkin border below? The border is not really continuous. Only a few of the pumpkins overlap. The rest just touch.


I just snipped the motifs into groups of two or three pumpkins. (This works for sticker borders too.)


Then I rubbed the pumpkins onto the plate, rotating the motifs slightly as I worked my way around. I eyeballed it. It’s not necessary to be perfect.


I filled in with a single motif here or there. When I got near to closing the circle, I preplanned which motifs I needed to fill the space.

Halloween Decorative Plate

Twenty minutes later, my Dollar Tree white plate was ready for the mantel.

Halloween is one of our favorite holidays. We have a reputation to uphold. Come on by if you’re in the area. ☺



Monday, October 28, 2013

Microwave Toffee Popcorn Balls (in 30 minutes or less)

We love popcorn balls, but I despise the candy thermometer. It’s intimidating. One second too long and you’ve moved irreparably from soft ball stage to hard crack.

I let the microwave handle my molten sugar.

Toffee Popcorn Balls

I use a deliciously easy microwave toffee recipe from (The original recipe is great for gifts.) Instead of spreading the sugar mix over pecans, I spread it over 6 cups of popped popcorn, which is roughly the equivalent of one bag of microwave popcorn.

Microwave Toffee Popcorn Balls

Here’s the recipe:

6 cups of popped popcorn
1 stick butter or margarine (I use butter because it is delicious) or 1/2 cup
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
1 teaspoon salt

Rub the stick of butter around the top of a microwave–safe bowl and then drop in all the ingredients except the popcorn. DO NOT STIR. Let the microwave mix the toffee for you.

Microwave on high for 7–8 minutes. The butter mixture should be a light tan. Microwave on high for an additional minute at a time if needed. Watch the mixture like a hawk. Sugar burns quickly.

Microwave Popcorn balls

Pour the molten sugar over your popcorn and use a rubber spatula to spread the sugar mixture evenly. Don’t worry about rushing through this step. The sugar holds its heat. You need the sugary popcorn to cool about 5 minutes before you plunge your hands into the bowl.

CAUTION: The toffee is still molten and is hot! Wait about 5 minutes before forming the popcorn balls.

Toffee Popcorn Balls

After about 5 minutes, use your hands to grab about 1 cup of toffee popcorn and form it into ball. The butter in the toffee prevents the sugar from sticking to your skin. You should get 6–7 popcorn balls from one batch of toffee. Place the popcorn balls on waxed paper or the shiny side of freezer paper to continue cooling.

Toffee Popcorn Balls

If you waited too long and the popcorn is too cool to form, just enjoy your batch of toffee popcorn and try again.

I made two batches that disappeared within one day. They were pronounced to be evil, which is appropriate for Halloween week.

Toffee Popcorn Balls

If you want to give them as gifts, cut a square of waxed paper, wrap, and twist the ends.




Monday, October 21, 2013

When the facts change, I change my mind.

Thrift stores are where good intentions go to die.

I send mine away.


And I pick up someone else’s.


It’s all good.

You pick up any good intentions lately?



Friday, October 18, 2013

DIY Teaching Skeleton

Who says Halloween can’t be educational?

This is one of those blast–from–the–past posts. Years ago, I was a homeschooling mom, and I generally made my own curriculum. We happened to be studying anatomy for our junior high science right around Halloween so I figured the best way to learn the bones of the body was to make a full–size skeleton and have the kids label the bones.





My daughter is now a senior in college and can still remember where most of the bones are.

I found a clip art skeleton (can’t remember where) and just freehanded the image onto poster board, darkening the lines with black marker. The kids cut out the pieces and then labeled the bones based on an anatomy coloring book we have. We cold laminated the pieces and fitted them together with brads to make our skelly poseable.

To make your own teaching skeleton, find a clip art skeleton. Here are a few I found that could work:

skeleton-9490skeleton_smiling   skeleton_black_white_line_art_coloring_book_colouring-555px

If you’re not comfortable winging it with a marker, you can enlarge the image using a graphics program. When you print it out, it probably will be pixelated from the enlarging, but you can trace over the jaggy lines with a black marker to smooth out the lines. Or, you can print out a large skeleton, tape him up to a window, and use banner paper to trace a smooth line. However you get the printout, glue the skeleton to poster board and then cut out the bones at each major joint (basically every place where you want him to be jointed). Use plain old office brads as his joints. Skelly is ready to be labeled and posed in his most spooky (or funny) Halloween pose. You can laminate him for future bone refresher courses, AKA  Halloween.

My 6–year–old nephew helped me put out the Halloween decorations this year. He had fun trying to find his own bones. He told his mom where his scapula was when she came to pick him up.

See, Halloween IS educational. Now I just have to resist the candy stash I’ve amassed.



Still feeling crafty? Make skelly some bat friends with your leftover poster board.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

How to Cover a Revealing Window with Contact Paper


I like my house, but I sometimes wonder what the original owner was thinking when she designed it. For instance, the sidelights in my front door reveal the world to us and us to the world.

SC Door Before

Why not put up curtains? I tried. In the winter, condensation alternately melts and freezes between the fabric and glass, ruining the paint job. I also tried covering the windows with glass paint, but my husband wanted a way to see who was at the front door.

I found inspiration here and here using clear Contact paper. I love that stuff!

How to Cover a Revealing Window with Contact Paper

Here’s how I solved my revealing problem.

1. Measure the window and draw a pattern. I used a vector drawing program and just began playing with shapes until I found a pattern that would fit.

SC Vector Pattern

2. Print out the pattern and trace onto clear Contact paper. Cut out. Or, if you have a cutting machine, load the vector pattern into Make the Cut and let the machine do all the precision cutting for you. (I highly recommend the cutting machine option.)

SC Pattern Pieces

3. Tape the pattern to the backside of the window. As you peel the backing off each piece of Contact paper, give it a spray with plain water. The water allows you to slide each piece into position without it immediately sticking to the window. When you have placed enough pieces to establish the pattern, remove the paper pattern from the window and place the remaining pattern pieces by eyeballing the spacing. Slide the wet Contact paper pieces to make fine adjustments to the spacing.

SC Pattern PlacementSC SpraySC Slip PlaceSC in progressSC EyeballingSC windows

4. When all the pieces are in place, you will notice bubbles are trapped between the Contact paper and the glass. Use a credit card or plastic scraper to move the bubbles to the edge of the Contact paper where they will be released. Scraping the pieces also removes the water you sprayed on each piece, reactivating the adhesive on the back of the Contact paper.

SC BubblesSC Scrape

5. Repeat for all remaining windows. Enjoy more privacy from the inside.

SC inside view

Enjoy more privacy from the outside.

SC Outside View

I love my faux frosted windows. We can still see who is at the door, but folks from the street aren’t going to spot me in my jammies unless they’re pressing their noses to the glass. Awkward for all involved.

SC after

In other news, the cosmetic renovations continue. The house is fighting back with a spate of wall cracking, but I will win. *SHAKES FIST IN THE AIR*