Wednesday, February 29, 2012

travel journal

For my upcoming trip to Ireland (in 2 days!) I wanted to make a travel journal. I keep a regular journal but wanted one that was specifically tailored to the things I want to keep track of when I'm on a trip. Inspiration for this project came from this one by Tamara from Etcetorize, this one from an Italian blog, and some ideas of my own.

I started with this $2 notebook from Office Depot.

I knew the cover would be easy to transform, and inside the back cover I found this!
I don't need fractions or a multiplication chart, but metric conversions? Yes! We'll be driving a rental car in a country where speed is measured in kilometers per hour and gas is bought by the liter, so this chart is going to be very helpful!

This is the finished product!
I cut some travel themed paper to fit the front cover, applied a thin layer of Mod Podge, and carefully smoothed out any bubbles.

The back side got covered too
You can also see in these shots that I added a ribbon to use as a bookmark. I just glued it up the spine of the notebook and then cut it long enough to go between the pages and hang down a little bit. I use clear nail polish to bind the ends of the ribbon and keep it from fraying. I've done that several times on different projects and it works great!

I also added some tabs so I could have sections dedicated to the different things I want to keep a record of. I guess I should have taken this picture from the other direction :) The sections are journal, photo log, reviews (I'm starting another blog where I write reviews of airlines, hotels, tours, etc that I use in my travels - stay tuned for more info on that when I get back), budget, and other stuff.

I wanted the tabs to be a little bit more sturdy than just a piece of paper glued to the edge of the notebook paper because I thought they would tear off too easily, so this was my solution. Long tabs attached to the paper using clear packing tape. They're not going anywhere.

Inside the front cover I made a pocket where I can store any little cards or papers I want to keep.

To do that I cut a piece of paper the size I wanted the pocket to be (the one with the Eiffel Tower on it), and then cut a second piece about 1/4 inch larger on 3 sides. I cut out the corners of that piece, scored the 3 sides that are bigger than the front pocket piece, and folded them up. I didn't get good pictures of that, but hopefully it makes sense.

Then I glued the front piece to the folded edges of the back piece, being careful not to let any glue seep through and glue the whole thing together. You want it to be able to open up, like this.
Then I just glued that inside the front cover of the notebook, which I had also covered with paper.

I'm so happy with how my travel journal turned out and I can't wait to use it on my trip!

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Monday, February 27, 2012

sleepover/party activities for kids

I recently got the cutest piece of mail I have ever received from my favorite little girl, my 6 year old niece Cressida.
I took the hint and planned another sleepover :)

One of the fun activities we did was a treasure hunt. I printed out some clues and attached them to cute cardstock using double sided tape, then just used some clear contact paper to "laminate" them. If you want something more permanent you would want to actually laminate them because contact paper comes off pretty easily, but for this purpose it worked great.

To start out I just told her a fairy had been there and handed her the first clue to read.

Starting with this one, I included some type of activity she had to do before she could get the next clue. In this case a dance because she loves to dance. It could be anything the child you're playing with enjoys doing.

I wasn't sure if she would get the song I was referring to (Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes), but she got it pretty fast. Little smarty pants.

If I was doing this with my own child the top part would have said "the next test is an easy one, you do it every day. A hug and a kiss for mommy will send you on your way!"

For this one I just used a clean and empty trash can and styrofoam balls. She loved it and we made a lot more than 3 baskets that night.
I'm sure you can figure out where each clue was hidden, but just in case it was the bathtub, the freezer, under my bed, the couch, and then the treasure was in the oven (turned off of course). The treasure was a little bucket filled with chocolate coins, ring pops, and candy jewelry.

Another thing I did was make some bingo cards. I just used Excel to make the grid and clip art for the pictures. Cressida's little brother Jackson was deciding if he wanted to come to the sleepover too, so I made this boy one for him using cars, trucks, airplanes, and motorcycles.

And this girl one was for Cressida. It has princesses, crowns, shoes, and castles.
We started with all of the individual pictures face down and turned them over one at a time, and we used candy to mark the squares. They're also printed on cardstock and covered in clear contact paper. You could easily customize these to fit the interests of your child. Don't forget (like I almost did) to make the 2 cards different. If they're the same both players will get bingo at the same time!

You know a sleepover is a success when the guest of honor cries when it's time to go home the next morning! 

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Thursday, February 23, 2012

travel mantel

As I mentioned in a previous post, I have a trip to Ireland coming up {next week!} and after Valentine's Day I decided to decorate my mantel with some things I've accumulated in my travels.

This is one of my favorite quotes about travel, and it's on a map of one of my very favorite cities ~ London.

I spent 2 semesters in Hawaii during college and I have lots of things that remind me of my time there. That sand is from a beach on the North Shore of Oahu, and the wood block was carved for me by a friend there.

Silk scroll of the Great Wall of China, bought in Beijing

This tree branch was hand painted on a very tissue paper thin... piece of silk. I bought it in Suzhou, China.

The crystal globe is from Prague, and the Eiffel Tower is, obviously, from Paris :)

I'm loving this little tribute to my world travels and can't wait for my next adventure.
Countdown ~ 8 days!

Monday, February 13, 2012

fleece camera cover

I've mentioned before that I love to travel, and I have another trip coming up in just under 3 weeks! I'm going to Ireland and I'm so excited! I've heard it's absolutely beautiful. We will have a car and the freedom to go wherever we want for the week we're there, and we will be staying in 4 different castles instead of regular hotels. It's going to be so amazing. With this trip coming up so soon, I have been working on some different travel-related things and today I'm going to share one of them with you.

This picture was taken in Prague a couple of years ago and it shows how I used to carry my stuff on trips. My camera around my neck, and a big bag for everything I might need while we're out sight-seeing (snacks, water, guide books, maps, money, would get pretty heavy). It worked, but it wasn't the most comfortable and I always felt like I had to hold onto the straps of my bag.

On that trip to Prague I bought the messenger bag you can see in the pictures below. It has a long strap so I can carry it diagonally across my body which is much more comfortable, convenient, and safe. It has lots of pockets and sections, so I'm able to carry everything I need in a much smaller bag. It's perfect.

When I bought that bag I started carrying my camera in one of the zippered parts instead of hanging around my neck. It was safe there but also easy to get to whenever I wanted to take a picture. With that change I no longer needed the case I used before, but I still wanted to protect my camera so I continued to keep it in the case anyway. Between Prague and China (the 2 pictures below) I bought a new camera. It's much thinner than the old one but slightly longer, and because of the size difference I was no longer able to zip the case completely. It still protected my camera from scratches, but it just wasn't working that well for me.

When I saw this camera cover on I knew it was the perfect solution.

Here's mine 
(this picture was taken with my phone since you can't actually use your camera to take a picture of your camera, so it's not the best but you get the idea)

Mine is a little bit thicker because I used fleece for both the outside and the liner, but I like that it's super soft and will protect my camera screen from scratches. Plus I already had the fleece so this project only cost me $2.59 for the velcro (really only 22 cents because the velcro came with 12 pieces and I only used 1).

Joy's tutorial is good, but I did do a couple of things different:
1. I cut my fabric 1/4 inch longer than she did and I still wish my cover was just a tiny bit bigger (the camera fits inside, but just barely)
2. she ironed interfacing onto the outside fabric, I left that part out
3. she made the outside and the liner the same size, my liner wouldn't fit exactly right inside the outer layer so I made it slightly smaller
4. she used batting between the outside and the liner, mine was too thick with batting so I left it out
5. I finished the opening at the top differently than she did. I used the same method as I did to finish off the top of my ruffle bag. It's kind of hard to explain, but ask me questions in the comments if you want more details and I will try to explain it.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

rice heating pads

What do you do when it looks like this outside?
It had just started snowing and the snowflakes were HUGE, and after it came down like this all day there were several inches of it on the ground. Sounds like a good day to stay home and craft! And since it was so cold, my mind was on ways to try and stay warm.  

This is not a new idea, but it's something I made for the first time. My Valentine gets cold easily (we're the reverse of most couples when it comes to body temperature, I don't get cold that easily and he likes to keep the heat at 80), so for Valentine's Day I decided to make him some of those rice filled fleece heating pad things. I don't know what they're called, so that's my technical term :)
I wanted to make a few different sizes so they could be used for different purposes, and this is what I ended up with. I think the 2 bigger sizes would work well for taking to bed at night or just for having by your feet watching TV, and the 2 small ones are for coat pockets.

To give you an idea how big they are...

So basically, cut 2 pieces of fleece in whatever size you want and sew them together leaving an opening to turn it right side out. Use that opening to fill them with rice, and then stitch it shut! It's that easy, and I know he's going to love them on Valentine's Day!

Thursday, February 2, 2012

parmesan garlic chicken with creamy pesto sauce

The month of January was also known as the Great Purge of 2012 at my house. I went through every drawer, cupboard, closet, and box in my house and threw away or donated everything that doesn't get used. What a great feeling! Because of that I didn't do a ton of crafting in January, but I did cook!

One of my favorite things to eat is the bowtie pasta with grilled chicken and creamy pesto sauce at the Pizza Factory, and I wanted to make something similar at home. It was fast and easy to make, and it's not exactly the same but it turned out pretty good!
For the sauce, all I did was mix a jar of regular alfredo sauce with some pre-made pesto. I'm not exactly sure how much pesto I used because I just added more until it tasted good, but I would say about 1/3 cup. It just depends on how strong you want the pesto flavor to be.

For the chicken I did something a little bit different than the grilled chicken at the Pizza Factory. I have used this recipe for years and I have no idea where I got it. I love it though, and I thought the flavors would go well with the sauce. 

Parmesan Garlic Chicken
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
1 envelope Italian salad dressing mix (I use Zesty Italian)
1/2 tsp garlic powder
6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (I use tenders so they cook faster)

Mix cheese, garlic powder, and dressing mix. Moisten chicken with water and coat with cheese mixture. Place in shallow baking dish and bake at 400 for 20-25 minutes or until chicken is cooked through (tenders take about 12-15 minutes).

I also found this recipe for Pizza Factory breadsticks
I haven't tried them yet, but they would be the perfect way to complete one of my favorite meals!