Thursday, April 30, 2015

5th Grade Science Fair

Every year, My kids are just fascinated with private Christmas light show display that we find on the Facebook Page Christmas Lights of NJ. We bucket list all the home displays at Christmas. This one Particular show in Mt. Laurel is just stunning every year with new sequences (dancing lights to music) to keep us entertained for hours.  The entire time while i'm trying to watch this light display, my 6 year old son continues to repeat, "HOW DO THEY DO THAT MOM??!?!?" 

Finally my 10 year old asks "CAN WE DO IT???" And I thought... Why not?  Lets do it for the Science Fair in the spring.

So I set out to investigate how to do it and there were so many confusing options. I spent hours searching the internet trying to figure out what to do. And unfortunately, most companies were less than helpful. So you can imagine my delight when I came across someone who was willing to help. Laurie from Reinders bent over backwards helping me set up what I wanted to do with my daughter and her friends for the 5th grade science fair. 

You have the option to easily purchase everything already programmed and set up your lights display, however, being a programmer myself, I wanted to teach my daughter and her friends what it was like to to do my job and this as the perfect opportunity. We set up a 72 light matrix display and got to work.

It took me a little while to get use to the LightShow Pro software and then teach the girls how to use it. I owe all our success in our project to Paul Hayden from Reinders who Helped us tremendously. He took so much time and effort helping with the setup and working with me so that I could quickly understand Lightshow Pro. We programmed 3 different music Sequences each to songs that were related to science or school. Yes I said, "EACH", I had to join in the fun too!

The girls were great, they spent hours upon hours learning Lightshow Pro and creating fun music sequences. They learned so much too!!! It only took them about 20 minutes each to write up their section of the report that we displayed right on the board with the lights.

I can't express to you what a show stopper the kid's display was at the science fair!!! 

My only regret is that I should have purchased MORE LIGHTS. When ever purchasing RGB LED lights for a Christmas display, buy twice as many as you think you need! That's my advice!

Thank you!!! 
And thank you again Paul, we couldn't have done it without you!


Saturday, April 25, 2015

Grape vine wreath.

I love growing grapevine in my garden, not only is it lovely to look at and great for shade, it also has a multitude of craft uses. I'd love to tell you its great to have fresh grapes, but the wild birds ALWAYS get to them before I do.

I made a friend a wreath today out of the grapevine straight from my garden and a flower arrangement that I no longer wanted in my home.

Its really very simple, you just cut the grape vine with wood clippers, rap it around itself in a circle, intertwining it so that it stays where it is put.  The fake flowers just pop right off the stem and you hot glue them on to make a wreath.  Just add some ribbon for the final touch, and there you have it. A beautiful FREE wreath!

Grade: A
Skill Level: Low 
Difficulty Level: Low
Frustration Level: 
Cost: 0

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Bacon Roses

Finding gifts for your husband is difficult. While you would be happy with flowers or a cute resin statue for your garden, but him, not so much. This is a great Valentines Day gift idea for your meat eating man who has everything. 


  • 1 Package of Bacon
  • Tin foil
  • Fresh Spinach leafs
  • Toothpicks
  • Bamboo skewers

First you want to roll the bacon into a rose shape. About half way through rolling your rose, you may want to fold the bacon in half and continue wrapping around the center so that your rose is thin at the bottom and chunky in the middle.

Wrap the tinfoil tightly around the bottom of the rose and use additional foil to mold a flat bottom so the rose can stand up in the oven.  If you shove a toothpick through the bacon rose, that helps keep the rose in its place. It is important to keep the bacon standing up while baking, or else they are just laying in their grease and lose their shape.

Bake in the oven 350 for 20 minutes. If you like your bacon crispy, you may want to test out your roses to make sure they are the desired crispness before taking them all out of the oven. 

Once the bacon rose has cooled, push 2 spinach leaves through the bamboo skewer then put the bacon rose on top. 

I paired the bacon roses with a dark chocolate fondue dip. Ever have chocolate covered bacon? Its da bomb.

Grade: A
Skill Level: Low 
Difficulty Level: Low
Frustration Level: 
Cost: $$

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Mixed Media Art Dresses

 Yikes, I've been so busy with a back up of creations that I don't have time to blog the directions. It is more complex with mixed media art because the process is creative and haphazard. I grab a bunch of papers, paints and doodads then just start gluing and decoupaging. After an hour I've created an absolute mess I look up and think "Oh No, I forgot to take pictures. The very first time I did canvas mixed media art I was very careful to write the directions (see here). However now, i'm an unorganized mess, so if I skip a few steps here, please forgive me.

My friend opened up her new store in the summer and I wanted to bring her something that she could hang up that was personal. She loves bling, accessories and the Disney Princesses so I decided to make her 3 mixed media canvas creations.

Acrylic paint
Piece of bubble wrap
Scrap book paper
Butter fly stamps
Aleene's craft glue
Fuzzy things, tulle or any fabric you found around the house

First I painted the canvases a base of 3 colors, red, burgundy and black, using the bubble wrap to blend the colors together.

I drew up some paper tracers on card stock as a template so I could make dresses hats and purses out of the scrap book paper. I wish I could share the template with you, but I forgot to scan them in DOH!

Once Upon a time is my most favorite craft paper (hint hint if anyone is looking for a gift for my up coming birthday). I used this paper for part of the back ground because it blended in nicely with the background I painted. I ran the scrap book paper through the printer and printed out: 

"A pair of shoes can change your life, Just ask Cinderella"

"It don't mean a thing if it ain't got that bling"

"Where friends come first, style is a bonus" (this happens to be her store saying)

I used the gold wire that I had in my beading kit to create mini coat hangers for the dresses and added rhinestones, tulle or fuzzy to them to give the looks you see here. 

After the glue on the canvas dried, and I stamped the background with butterflies and white ink then used Modpodge all over the background. When the modpodge finally dried, I glued on the dresses. 

You can see them in person at Girlfriends On Main

Monday, January 5, 2015

Bird House to Fairy House

I gave my mom a terrarium this year for her Christmas gift and decided to make her a fairy house to put in it. I already had this 4 inch tall birdhouse that my son had previously painted and decided to re-purpose it for this project. (It already served its purpose by occupying my son for 20 minutes)


  •  Bird house
  • Hot glue gun
  • Scissors
  • Balsa wood
  • Pine cones
  • Grout
  • Acrylic Paint
  • Q-tips
  • Paper towels.
I started off by cutting the perch off the birdhouse with the scissors. I also used the scissors to cut the balsa wood into window and door frames. It just looks better when a door is set into a frame instead of laying on top because that is the way your home actually looks. I hot glued stones around the door frame to look as though it was part of the house. Then hot glued the window frames on the house so that the windows would look set in to the stone. I used a hot glue gun to affix flat shiny stone that I ordered off  the internet. 

I didn't want to use white grout on the house so I mixed a little brown acrylic paint so the contrast of the grout wouldn't be so pronounced. I also used that same brown acrylic paint to paint the window and door frame. 

Sometimes working with grout can be a real pain, but this project is small enough that it isn't so bad. You apply the grout by smoothing it on to get in between the stones, you wait a few minutes, then wipe it off. 

Later, after the grout has completely dried, like to I go back and clean it up a little more by rubbing wet and dry Q-tips on the rocks to make them shine. 

The messiest part  of the project was the pine cones. What a mess. Cutting the pieces off the pine cone was like ripping out teeth and I was getting sap all over my hands, which I just happen to be allergic to. My hands were bright red and I itched for days. The problem was, my pine cone was too fresh, and if I had given them a little time to dry out, the pieces of the pine cone would have fallen right off. 

Whats nice about the pine cone is that it looks just like shingles and you don't need to grout in between, like you would stone. So after you get that sucker piece off, you hot glue it on the house and there is no more steps.

I almost forgot, I just hot glued a small bead for the door nob!

I'm not sure if this house could sustain the elements outside but it sure will look cute in a tiny indoor terrarium. 

Grade: A
Skill Level: Low (This is a good project to practice grouting. Fairy houses look better messy than perfect.)
Difficulty Level: Low(If you use dried pine cones.)
Frustration Level: 
Low(Again, if you use dried pine cones.)
Cost: $-$$ (I had all this material at home so it actually cost me nothing.)

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Clothes Pin Nativity : Wise Men and Animals

I think my favorite part of my Clothespin Nativity was the 3 Wise Men.  Just made of clothespins and ribbon, then glued together with Aleene's glue and finished with sharpie marker, they turned out to be a stylish group of men.

The easiest thing about this was the fact that I used my old wired ribbon because it made it easier to affix the material in the way that looked like flowing robes. 

The donkey and the sheep body was created the same with 3 clothespins each glued together, the legs were cut off the clothes pin in the center to separate the front and back legs.

The donkey's head was just a clothespin hot glued on a just little tilted to give him an inquisitive look. The sheep's head was just a tiny piece of the bottom of the clothes pin glued in a midst a bunch of cotton balls. These animals are so fun, they just crack me up every time I look at them.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Clothes Pin Nativity

I make my friend's Christmas gifts every year, I usually make everyone a similar item, but my one very Catholic friend always requests a Nativity  every year. I think she is trying to slowly convert me to Catholicism one craft project at a time. This year I decided to step up my game and do a clothes pin nativity. 

JMJ Clothes pins

  • My materials included 
  • Clothes pins (the ones that look like people), 
  • Twine, 
  • Burlap (I had some with gold flecks that I saved from a wedding shower gift. I save everything,)
  • White and tan felt,
  • River birch sticks from outside,
  • Some garden sheers to cut up the sticks and fabric sheers for the fabric.
  • Aleene's Clear Gel Tacky Glue and hot glue
  • Sharpie Marker
I started out by rolling the burlap around the clothes pins and fixing it with tacky glue. If you like having burnt fingertips then by all means use the hot glue because it works faster, but I'd rather be patient and still have feeling in my fingers. 

I cut the felt into rectangular pieces and glued them around the heads and folded and glued it to the bodies, to give the appearance in the picture. Mary's felt rectangle was the length of the clothes pin and Joesph's was 1/3 the length of the clothes pin. I tied the twine around the top of Joesph's head to give the appearance of a keffiyehs. (Now there is your word of the day. Go Google it now.)
Jesus was just a cut piece of the bottom of a clothes pin with the burlap glued to his head, then another piece to swaddle him in. Swaddle him just like you did your own babies, only tinier. 

I started out making Jesus's  manger bed by cutting some thicker birch pieces the same length, hot gluing them into 2 X shapes then taking one piece to hot glue across the bottom V part of the X to hold it all together. The thinner birch pieces were cut and glued length wise as shown in the picture. I misplaced my tacky glue so I just got out the Elmer's and glued on the sticks.

Use the sharpie to pencil in the eyes. I just go with simple shapes. If you screw up the eyes, the entire thing looks creepy. 

Stay tuned for the blog update for the sheep, donkey, barn, and wise men.

Grade: A
Skill Level: Moderate
Difficulty Level: Moderate
Frustration Level: Moderate
Cost: $ (Cost of Felt, burlap and clothes pins)