Sunday, November 30, 2014

. . . Elf on the Shelf is back to visit . . .

It's that time of year again...Roy is here to visit us.  All year long we look forward to Roy coming.  This little elf has given us so many wonderful memories and hopefully will continue to do so for many more years.  His silliness is something we laugh about regularly and I'm so glad I've documented most of his antics here on my blog.  When our son is older it will be a great way to relive the memories.

The first day that Roy came to see us he climbed in through our window on Christmas tinsel wearing a hat and scarf because it was so cold outside.  He left a nice note about how much he loves to visit and why he was here.  Elf on the Shelf is the best thing to happen to parents because he is a constant reminder to the kiddos that they have to behave.  The minute I say Roy is watching you Marcus straightens right up and behaves.  Even though he is almost 12 he isn't willing to take any chances with his behavior just in case.

Apparently Roy has been very busy with his paintbrush!  He left this cute canvas for Marcus.  A great way to remember how special Roy is.  

 Notice this adorable Christmas sweater Roy is sporting.  Too cute!

 Roy is a busy little guy while we sleep!

 He left a very sweet note too!

Stay tuned for updates on what Roy is doing around our house and for even more Elf fun click on the Elf on the Shelf link at the top right of the blog.

I hope you will come back often this month to see what our little elf is up to!  Leave a comment about what your Elf on the Shelf is up to as well.  I love hearing about them.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

. . . DIY 4x4 Christmas Candlesticks . . .

A couple months ago my mom and I decided to have a painting party and have everyone bring a container of chalk paint of their choice and we provided the project.  We had so much fun doing this that we decided to do it again but make a Christmas Craft this time.  It is hard to come up with a project that everyone will love and that can be made in a couple hours from start to finish but this was perfect.  We made 4x4 Christmas Candlesticks and the fun part is that everyone's ended up looking a little bit different.
Again we used Americana Decor Chalky Finish Paint from Decoart and it worked beautifully for our 4x4s.  The 2 colors we used were Everlasting and Romance (the perfect red).  I also came up with the idea of using wide mouth jar lids painted and glued onto the top of the 4x4 and that is used to hold a pillar candle.  We also drilled a hole in the top of each block so you could use a votive or tea light.  To do the tea light hole you need a 1.5 inch spade drill bit.  Some of the girls chose to take the wide mouth jar lids but not glue them on so they could use both options depending on which candle they had handy.  I chose to skip drilling mine altogether because I knew I'd probably always want the pillar candles.  My mom did a set where she glued the lids and has the holes drilled so she can do either one.

These are three sets that my mom and I did before the party to use as examples and each set has a slightly different look.  Adding a little something extra with ribbon or wraphia made a big impact and then a sprig of berries and pine really makes the candlesticks pop.  I also found really cute vinyl Christmas labels at Michael's that I added to mine.  They are removable too so if I get tired of them it's an easy fix.
 So pretty and it's always rewarding when you can make something you can use.

 This set is distressed a bit more than the others and was done when it was completed so the red runs into the white and gives it a more rustic look.

Our party theme was turquoise and red so we set up this set using a sprig of turquoise beads and then red and turquoise ribbon so it's a little more modern and colorful.

This is the set I made for our house.  I added vinyl stickers and a sprig of berries with red burlap ribbon.  I picked up some pretty red candles and the candlesticks are ready to go.

 I tried to use all turquoise and red for the party set up.  I stacked paper plates in alternating colors and did the same with the cups and napkins and then picked up paper straws in the same colors.  To add some candlelight to everything I just used blue Ball jars and filled the bottom with Epsom salt and added a red and white gingham ribbon and dropped a tea light into the bottom.  

There was a table set up of all the things the girls would need to make this project including lots of Chalky Finish Paint. 
 Because we knew time would be limited to get this project done my mom and I sanded all the blocks and put one coat of primer on them and then applied one coat of Everlasting Chalky Finish Paint.  The girls got right to work when they got there and started painting another coat of the white and then while that dried they got busy eating and visiting.  It worked out well to do that because by the time they were done eating all the yummy food they could get started on the sanding and then painting the red accents.
 Once everyone had their blocks painted white we had them sand the entire block and distress it the way they wanted.  We then started having each person tape off the design they wanted.  Some did chevron, some did stripes, some did polka dots and one even did a monogram.  It was so fun to see what each person wanted.
 Lots of fun sanding, taping and painting.  Then of course finishing them with the Americana Decor Clear Wax. 
 We found that since we were trying to get the project done in a couple hours that a hair dryer just dried that paint up like nobody's business.  I am going to have to keep one handy every time I want to get a project done quickly. 

Don't you love the chevron and vertical stripes too?  They turned out so cute.
 I am in love with the top set that is really distressed.  It turned out so nice and looks so rustic.  Then the monogram looked awesome as well.  The stickers add a great something extra too.  I just love all the sets and couldn't pick a favorite.
 I think everyone left very happy with how their blocks turned out and I hope they will all use them in their holiday decorating.

Everyone had a great time I think and the projects all looked so good as they were heading out the door at the end of the night!

Use untreated 4x4s cut to the desired size.  We did a set of two for the night of the party but then did sets of 3 for a few other sets.  Ours were cut to be:

Sand your blocks until smooth.  **If you are going to drill with the spade bit then you will want to go ahead and do that now.  Apply one coat of primer.  I used spray primer on my set but we used brush on primer for the sets the girls painted.  I think the blocks that had brush on primer did much better than my set with spray primer.  

Once the primer dries apply your white paint until the wood is covered to your liking.  Sand the entire block getting the block distressed as much as you'd like.

Use round sponge brushes to achieve the polka dot look or use painter's tape to tape off the blocks in horizontal stripes or diagonal stripes or even vertical stripes.  Whatever your heart desires!  Use different widths of tape to get a different look to your stripes as well.  Once the tape is applied you will paint the white areas red or whatever color you are using on your blocks.  Let the red dry and then paint another coat.  I found that I liked mine with 3 coats but most of the girls at the party were happy with 2 coats.  It is completely up to you.  

Once the red has dried you can sand a little more to distress the blocks or you can leave them as they are.  For my 2 blocks that have stripes I left the tape covering the white so no red would bleed into the white and sanded the red back down to make it a little distressed on the edges.  I then removed the tape so I could touch up any bleeds and then I was ready for wax.  I didn't sand my polka dot block until after I waxed.

Apply your choice of wax.  I use Minwax or the Americana Decor Clear Wax and love both.  I think the Minwax is a little thicker but both protect well and leave a great feel to the finished project.  Once you've applied your wax and buffed it off you can lightly sand with a very smooth sandpaper to get a really nice finish. 

If you are using the wide mouth jar lids to hold pillar candles then you can paint those to the desired color and use E6000 glue to apply them to the top of your blocks.  Let them dry and then you can add your candles.  Add any extra embellishments that you would like and then display them.