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Monday, September 10, 2012

Teacher Thank You

Today marks the first official full week of Kindergarten for my oldest child, Malachi. It's hard to believe his first big school year is underway. Thankfully today was a little easier than last week when I put him on the bus for the first time.

I thought I might feel compelled to go up to the bus, crawl up on the bumper and look under the hood, slap the windshield wipers around a little, maybe kick the tires a bit ... you know, make sure everything was in working order. But instead, I wanted to take my son, shrink him up and keep him in my pocket for safe keeping, like forever.

The other option, of course, was to casually follow him up the stairs of his bus, nonchalantly sit next to him, look around and whistle like nothing unusual was happening and then continue to follow him stalker-style for the rest of the day. Oh okay, the rest of his life.

Lucky for him, I was able to restrain myself and opted to cry for the next couple hours instead. But alas, today was a better day. Whew.

Anyhow, the purpose of this post is actually to share a little bit about the "thank you" present we made for his old teachers at his day care center. After all, they cared for him for the last five years and helped bring him to this point so something special was in order.

It all started the night before his final day at his day care center when he suggested we make them a cake. I didn't think I'd have the time with a newborn and all, but when he suggested we just "get up early" to do it, I said okay, let's get baking. After all, I'm up all night with the baby as it is; I didn't need an early morning alarm to tell me to make a cake to boot. Yeeesh.

So, we made this little guy. Just your everyday Number 2 pencil, well, only sweeter.
To get started, we used a simple boxed cake mix in your standard 9"x13" pan.
Next, we whipped up some butter cream frosting. The recipe for that and for the fondant I make can be found here.
Then I cut off an inch of the width on each side of the 9"x13" cake and then cut the large section in half. I stacked those on top to get the general shape of the cake, putting a layer of butter cream in-between.
I then rounded the corners where the eraser would be and cut the other sides to make the point of the pencil. When that was done, I frosted everything and added a layer of yellow fondant.
Looks a bit like a carrot but it just needed some details. The first of which was black fondant for the tip. When that was on I "painted" the wooden part of the tip with brown food coloring.
Then I made a small batch of pink fondant for the eraser. For the metal piece that holds the eraser in place, I decided to use silver sprinkles. I added a strip of butter cream about an inch wide below the eraser and poured sprinkles over it, pressing them in place.
Once the sprinkles were added along with a few details like "No. 2" in black gel icing, it was done.
Malachi was very excited to bring it to school with him and I'm told it was a huge hit (and delicious)!

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Updating London's Bedroom: Simple Paint Mural

I've been wanting to revisit the bedroom makeover I did for London last year because it was only a day or two before she had partially destroyed some of my work. Namely, she pealed all the butterfly decals off her wall and the headboard I made never did get secured to the bed frame by my husband.

That left a really bare and boring wall and the brown colored curtains were still there too. Boo.

So, I decided to add some pizazz to that back wall. After all, London keeps asking for her "princess bed" so this room needed more than just a chandelier and some purple. Since a new bed will have to wait and I didn't really want to spend any money, I decided to get thrifty and was able to use some paint to spruce up the room on the cheap. I actually used two old cans from other projects--the wall color we used in the guest room pre-nursery, and one of the wall colors we used for the nursery stripes when it was redone earlier this year.

For quite some time I've been looking at murals and different ideas to add some interest. I really wanted something princessy and thought castles might work. I finally found some inspiration for a silhouette/skyline style mural on Modern Parents Messy Kids but for the life of me can no longer find the link to share. So know this idea was not my own, this is just my interpretation of it.

The original mural (which I think you can purchase somewhere) had some Moroccan style buildings. I wanted the background to be more Cinderella's castle-esk so I decided to change the shapes and just googled a few online to give me some ideas.

To get started, I used a regular pencil and just free handed the outline of buildings in London's kingdom. I went this route because I knew I could wash the pencil off the wall if this project went south, meaning I could abort at anytime.  It might be hard to see here, but this is really all I did.

It was looking pretty decent so I decided to move forward digging up two different paint colors as mentioned earlier. One was an off shade of white and the other a light purple. After I had the original outline for the first line of buildings, I started to roughly paint what would be the top color (white) around the outline. See what I mean below ...

You can start to see the images take shape. I did it this way because our walls have an "orange peal" texture to them and I didn't want to have to get very intricate with a brush when I filled in the white color. In fact, anyone could really do this. If you think I got uber detailed with a fine brush, that's not the case. In fact, I actually used a little roller for the whole thing. This little guy is intended to touch up trim (a must if you have white trim like we do) but it worked well enough to paint the primarily boxy shapes I selected.

After I got this far, it admittedly took me a bit to figure out how to draw a second skyline above the first one that would jive with the paint I put all over. But a few eraser marks later, I had it sketched out. I decided to fill in the white skyline first.

Next was the purple.

Then I moved her bed back, placing it against the wall lengthwise. I want to make a few changes to the bed itself to make it work more like a day bed and hope to add a fabric canopy above it. The table and mirror may also need to move a bit too; they're feeling a bit crowded. For now, this is what it looks like.

Oh and I also had some silky silver curtains that used to be in our guest room before it was converted into a nursery so I brought those over too. They work much better in the space and the whole room feels a bit lighter and brighter.

So, total project cost .... $0! Even better, when my daughter got home and I took her up to surprise her, she just kept saying "it's so beautiful mom!" That and she practically jumped out of her chair when her dad got home so she could take him to her room to show him. Uh huh, I've had a smile on my face all night, doesn't get much better than that!