Monday, February 23, 2015

Mill Hill Kits and My Cross Stitch Work in Progress

To shake things up today, I am posting my cross stitch projects.  I posted awhile ago about Mill Hill kits.  It was my first time working with the kits.  I have found them to be very easy to work with and BEAUTIFUL patterns!  The kits comes with beading, which I have chosen not to use.  They look GREAT with the beads.  But for my use, the beads won't work, so instead of using the beads, I simply use the DMC thread color the bead calls for and stitch the patterns normally.  I have some ornaments which I really want to try the beads with- I think hanging on a tree- the Christmas lights would look great twinkling off the beading!  
I started this set (set of four for my display board) before Christmas.  I took a break from it during the holidays.  I recently started back on this project and on my last one for the set for four.

These are the three finished ones.  I did the ghosts first, the crows second and the cats third.  The final one will be an owl in the moonlight.  I LOVE these patterns.  They are relatively easy to follow- the only hang up is that while not using the beads, some DMC colors will have two symbols.  It's not a big deal but I keep my color chart near so I know exactly the symbol or symbols I am working with at the time.  
I did not use the perforated paper that comes with Mill Hill kits, I used material from my stash.  While I like the perforated paper, I didn't want to use it for this big of a project.  These are done on 14 count and I am putting them into 7"X7" frames leaving a little less than a 1/2" on all sides.  
These will be washed and stretched and put into frames.  I normally hang them on my cross stitch board but the frames I am using are not going to fit this time.  I have decided to take four frames and hinge them together.  This will take place of my board while I have these hanging up. 
If you want details on my seasonal cross stitch board, check out this post:
After working on this project for so long, I am thrilled to be finishing it.  I will post the final set when I am all done!
Thanks for stopping by!
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Friday, February 20, 2015

February- Barkbox

Another Barkbox has arrived!  I am really not sure if I like the Barkbox more or my dog Levi!!!  I'm pretty sure it's a close tie!
This month was great!  Mardi Gras theme!  ADORABLE!!!

This is the card that comes with each box, explaining each item and the cost of the item, and an item number in case you want to reorder an item.

I'm so sorry that this picture of the treats is upside down.....geesh!!! Anyways, they fit in the theme!  Levi hasn't tried these yet, but we have yet to find any treat in our boxes that Levi or our golden retriever won't eat!!!!  They gobble them up so I am sure these will be a hit as well!

I do subscribe with the extra toy- I don't buy Levi toys normally so I like getting the bonus toy!  Two toys a month and my little guy is happy!!!  And I have to say that my cat liked the toys this time!

I loved the jester hat toy.  The ball part of the hat was very squeaky, Levi loved it, and so it the cat....which is strange but she was batting it around the house.

Here's a picture showing the ball/hall more.  Anything with dangling items, Levi loves, he can carry it in his mouth.

These are the last two items.  I can say the bully stick was a hit....because Levi already ate it!!!!  He loves bully sticks!  I keep close eye on them when they get small and take it away when it becomes a possible choking hazard but this time, he ate it all before I even noticed.  Levi is good and not a gulper, so he chewed every bit which is why I didn't notice it had gotten so small.  We have another one of these treat toys, I don't give the dogs tons of treats so I'll save this until a day that may come when we have to be out of the house for an extended period of time, as a treat/ busy toy for Levi.  (He goes with us every day to our office and is seldom home alone - so it might be on my shelf for awhile!).  
Overall, another GREAT box!!!!
If you are interested in trying out a Barkbox:
Thanks for stopping by!

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Perler Beads and Pony Beads- Making your own enamel dots

I love enamel dots.  LOVE them!  I have seen a couple of pinterest posts about making your own enamel dots.  Of course, I had to try.  There are tons of posts showing the enamel dots and how to do them, this was my attempt and what I learned.
First off, I used Perler beads.  These are the small beads that are meant to be ironed into shapes.  They are intended to be heated so I think they don't smell as bad as the pony beads, but more on that later. 

I got my package at AC Moore's with a coupon!  40% off!  The coupon makes it very inexpensive to make your own!  One package give you TONS of beads!

They also carry smaller packages of them as well- and honestly, one small package is a lot as well.  Some of the smaller packages were of one solid color so if you find yourself using a lot of black or white, this might be a good option for you. 

These were glow in the dark beads, I am curious if they still glow in the dark after I melt them and how the colors will turn out.  I have not used these yet. 

These are pony beads.  I like them because they are bigger and will melt into a bigger enamel dot.  BUT....there are some cons to pony beads.  They are bigger and make a nice enamel dot.  They come in solid colors that I would use often in my crafting.  BUT....the melt time varies greatly for these.  Some people say pony beads are not meant to be melted and don't melt well or can't get them to melt at all.  Sometimes if the beads are older- they don't melt well.  I had to use the temp at 400 degrees, which I found melted them, but then I think one of the lighter colors discolored which I think burnt it.  I would keep the heat on 350 and just melt it longer.  At 400, my oven still took 25-30 minutes to melt them.  Colors melted VERY inconstantly.  White were very hard to melt.  While the purple, actually burned.  The smell is another factor.  Pony beads are not meant to be melted, so you do have the plastic smell.  I am sure this is not good for you to breathe in.  I vented the house with the attic fan, which I'm sure my husband was thrilled as it was FREEZING outside.  Due to all this, I'm not sure I will melt anymore pony beads.  I just think the result was so different from color to color and many beads were wasted as they didn't melt enough or burnt.  I'll stick with what did work!!!
Perler Beads!

I have done two different attempts with perler beads.  Both worked well, with no bad smell.  I will caution you, I burned half a tray because my temperature was still to high from melting a previous tray of pony beads.  Slow and steady wins the race with perler beads.  I set my temp on 350 and melted for about 30 minutes, I kept checking on them every 10 minutes.

This was some of the beads melted.  I loved the striped beads- they gave an awesome enamel dot look!  The striped ones melted very well.  The pearl perler colors melted well but have a different look to the tops.  I'm not sure I liked it, but I kept them because my kids liked them so maybe I was being overly picky?

Using a metal tray and parchment paper works best.  You want a very FLAT surface- the flatter, the better!  These beads will roll!  You need to get the parchment paper very flat as well.  I trimmed mine so it fit on my tray.
The most annoying part of the whole process is standing those beads up!  Yes, every bead has to be standing on its end!!!  

I love the striped beads!!!!  
You can stack two beads on top of each other to get a bigger enamel dot but honestly those buggers roll and it is a pain to try and do.  Maybe I need more patience!?

The black and white striped ones are my favorite!  Overall, I would say this was a success!  I will attach the enamel dots with some glossy accents.  I got TONS of dots and even more to do.  This is a good project when you are near the oven and can watch your beads closely.  Yes, you can burn them!  And the look isn't good when burnt!  I don't think I could sit down and do the whole box at one time!  Standing those beads up takes some time, about three- four trays and I'm done!  Working this project in when I am doing something else is good.  You need to let the bead stand and cool for about 15 minutes.  Then you can easily remove them and sort them or throw them in a big jar!  I reused my sheet of parchment each time, so the waste is very little! 
Have you tried to make your own enamel dots?  What are your thoughts?

Monday, February 16, 2015

What to teach each day at homeschooling?

One of the first things I had to figure out when I decided to homeschool my two youngest children was "WHAT was I going to teach?".  What was important to us as a family?  What benefited my kids the most?
I have two very different learners.  The way they learn and how I teach them differs from one child to another.  
When I began thinking about homeschooling, I made a list.  A list of what my boys needed to spend time on in homeschooling and what I wanted to teach.  From that list, my lesson plan was made.  I quickly found out, that I was getting caught up in what I *thought* I needed to be teaching.  I needed to take a step back and and reevalutate my lesson plan.  I was over scheduling, over teaching, and my kids and I,  would soon burn out if I wasn't careful.
For us, phonics work was our most important study.  As a mother of three kids with learning differences (two that are currently being homeschooled), this is what we needed to work on.  Up until about 2nd grade, kids are learning to read. After second grade, kids are reading to learn.  Since my middle son is dyslexic, he is still working through his tutoring using the Wilson Reading System.  He is making gains but still not quite on grade level (a word that I slowly working out of my vocabulary as I venture further down the homeschooling road ;) ).  My youngest has Expressive Language Delay but has made huge gains.  He now just needs work in fluency.  Phonics work was the number one thing on my list.  And I needed to do phonics work everyday.
I found at first that my want list was filling up our time and squeezing our NEEDS.  I needed to adjust our schedule.  Geography is a want.  But is it a need right now?  No.  How do we work in some fun things that my kids want to do with our needs?  How can I keep from over loading my boys?  
I realized I needed to slow down.  Take some stuff OFF the schedule.  Allow for some down time, allow for some fun stuff and try to remember that it is not a race, homeschooling is a journey and we should be enjoying the ride!
I paired back our schedule and we couldn't be happier!  We still do our needs but I leave the wants for Fridays!  Friday is our fun day.  Science experiments, Physical Education, Geography, map work, Field Trips, and researching our favorite topics.  
This has helped a lot.  I can be more creative with the NEED list and introduce the materials in fun new ways. 
Happier kids + Happier mom = a positive homeschooling experience!
Thanks for stopping by!

Monday, February 9, 2015

What do you do when you only have a little bit left of your "Perfect Paper"? - Kiwi Lane Templates!!

Has this ever happened to you: you find the perfect pictures for the perfect paper, only to find that you have used most of your perfect paper up???  I try not to hoard my paper, I want to use it, and love it, isn't that why we buy so much of it?  Here is the perfect example of what I am talking about.  Pictures of our golden retriever Leia + and the few scraps of "animal" paper that I had left + Kiwi Lane templates = a great layout!

My Kiwi Lane templates have often been a great way for me to use up scraps from my DSP paper packs.  This time, I found myself having only a little piece left of my "perfect" paper.  I don't buy tons of really themed paper, so I was disappointed to see, I only had a little bit of this animal paper left.  I knew myKiwi Lane templates  would be perfect! I got them out, used my scrap piece of animal paper to match some solid colors and got to work!

Overall, this is a simple layout, but I got to use the animal paper that I wanted!  I love using up scraps!  

My Kiwi Lane templates trick is always my go to when my paper is getting low.  I pull them out and often I am able to make 3-4 more layouts using the same DSP!!!  What is your trick???  
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