Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Craft Camp: Make a Customized Cork Board, a Memory Wire Bracelet, Lip Gloss, and Bath Fizzies (but not all at once!)

**We are having major computer issues at our house this week, so we'll have to catch up on posting next week. But keep entering the giveaway!**

**Don't forget to enter our fantastic giveaway from! They've generously donated a $60 gift certificate that can be used on everything from Adirondack Chairs to Water Slides. Click HERE to enter!**

Day 2 of craft camp was lots of fun. Our two crafts were supposed to go together, but they didn't really in the end. Oh well! We started by making framed jewelry displays (a.k.a. customized cork boards), and finished with some super swell memory wire bracelets.

The girls had tons of fun customizing their cork boards. Here's how we did it:
  • We started by painting 4x6" wooden picture frames (so versatile and so cheap--only $1!). Just as they did with the tote bags from Day 1, the girls went crazy with the paints; their personalities really came through in their work! After the frames were painted, we set them aside to dry while we worked on the bracelets (see below for the bracelet How To).
  • I bought a 4-pack of 12" square cork mats from the craft store and cut two of them into six 4x6" rectangles each.
  • I also bought a bunch of cute fabric fat quarters from the fabric store. No need to wash them, but ironing is a good idea.
  • Using a 6x8" piece of cardboard as a template, the girls traced and cut out a rectangle of fabric.
  • We placed the fabric face down on the table and centered the cork board over it. We folded the excess fabric up and over the edges of the cork board and stapled them in place.
  • When the frames were dry, we put the fabric covered cork boards into the picture frames. We added a few bright, pearly sewing pins and that's it! Here's the part where the bad planning came into play. We used glass beads on our bracelets, so by the time the bracelets were done, they were quite heavy. If you tired to hang them from the cute pins on your cute jewelry board, they would just fall off and take the pins with them. But necklaces, earrings, rings, and bracelets that are fairly light-weight will work fine.

Memory wire bracelets are a cinch to make. They require only 3 things: memory wire, beads, and a set of needle-nose pliers. I cut 3 turns of wire for each girl and, using the pliers, looped one end over on itself. No clasps, no knots. How easy is that?! After the girls beaded up their wire, I just looped the other end over on itself as well. Truly one of the easiest projects ever, and the bracelets looked amazing!


Day 3 was super crazy, super messy, and probably the most fun yet! Today was bath and body day. We made lip gloss and bath fizzies, both ideas from Miss Martha Stewart. Instead of doing our crafts in the living room, we worked in the kitchen today. The table, counter, and floor were caked with bath stuff when we finished, so it was definitely a good idea to move our operations into a more mess-friendly environment. Click HERE for directions on how to make the lip gloss, and click HERE to find out how to make bath fizzies.

I was afraid these two projects wouldn't span the entire two-hour camp session, so we also used ribbon, scrapbooking paper, markers, etc. to decorate jars to put our bath fizzies in once they are dry.

As I mentioned in yesterday's craft camp post, if you'd like to know where I got any of my materials (like citric acid and essential oils, for example), just drop me a line at maxandellie at gmail dot com.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Giveaway Time (again!)

The giveaway is now closed. Thanks for entering!

Do you need a new vanity for that bathroom remodel you've been tackling? How about some patio furniture and a fire pit for these long summer nights? What about a yoga DVD or a treadmill to help you stay in shape for swimsuit season? has all of these items and more! Baby gear, cookware, telescopes, shoes, luggage, beds, desks, flooring....the list goes on and on! CSN Stores is offering one lucky reader a $60 gift certificate that can be used at any one of their 200+ online shops!

To enter, simply visit, look around, and then come back here and leave a comment on this post telling us what you'd put your $60 toward if you won. Don't worry; you can change your mind. If you're anything like us, you'll have a hard time narrowing down all of the amazing choices! This contest will be open for one week. We'll choose a winner on Tuesday, June 29th. Best of luck everyone!!

Monday, June 21, 2010

How To: Survive a Craft Camp With Twelve 8-11 Year-Old Girls While Maintaining Your Sanity and Living Room Carpets

The moment I've been waiting for all year (quite literally for one entire year!) finally arrived this morning: craft camp! When I first posted about it a few months ago, a few of you mentioned that you'd like to do something similar in your area. Well now that I've done it, I feel like I can give you some great tips:

  • Be prepared for a lot of fun! I had so much fun picking out the crafts and buying the materials. Buying craft supplies is always fun, but it was especially joyous this time because the tuition for each girl included the cost of supplies, so I was basically buying great stuff for free! Hot dog!
  • Shop around. After choosing the crafts, I made a list of all materials for each craft. I did this months ago, and then spent a few minutes during shopping trips for other things to price the materials we would need. Then I bought them where ever they were cheapest. And I used coupons. Coupons, coupons, coupons!
  • Find enough space. Or make enough space. I used my dining room table plus a folding table that I set up in my living room. I divided the girls in half, sat 6 at one table and 6 at the other. If I didn't have enough space in my living room, I would use my garage.
  • Be organized. That is pretty good advice for life in general, but in this case, it is a must! Once I had all of my supplies gathered, I bagged or boxed them up by day and put aside the ones I didn't need for this morning. Then I laid out all of today's supplies on the tables.
  • Have back-up plans. As in snacks, a backyard, and a pet rabbit. We are doing two crafts each day, but for some reason, they zipped through the second craft and we finished 30 minutes early. Luckily, I had dozens of juice boxes, Ritz crackers, and cheese on hand just in case. The girls cleaned up their crafts and then ate snacks in the backyard (and scared the bunny half to death) until their moms came to get them.
  • Let it go. When I make a monogrammed tote bag, I want it to look chic and polished. But my 8-year-old friends don't. They want to use every color of paint available. They want to paint the entire surface of the bag with zebra stripes and polka dots. And you know what? That's OK.

So what we're today's crafts?? Monogrammed tote bags and personalized stationery. I've posted about the tote bags before. Here's how we did the stationery: small wooden letters from the craft store (about 1-2" tall) + 2" sections of a wooden dowel + blank cards and envelopes + craft paint. Easy peesy. We hot glued the letters to the dowels, brushed on craft paint, and stamped away on our stationery! Some girls stuck to one or two colors. Others put multiple letters on each card and each letter was a different color. They just washed their make-shift stamps off in the sink between colors.

I'll be sure to write up all of the crafts we do this week, and if at any point you'd like to know where I got any materials, just drop me an email at maxandellie at gmail dot com. I'd love to share my secrets with you!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Easy Father's Day Ideas, and a Giveaway Winner!

Thanks to all who entered our Sweet Eventide Giveaway! The winner of Jess's gorgeous Dahlias photo is.....Annie, who happens to be one of my favorite people in the world (but she won fair and square, I promise)!

Father's Day is sneaking up on us again! I'm pretty sure I had some ideas for great Father's Day gifts at some point, but I made the mistake of not writing them down, and they are long gone! So now we're on the hunt for some quick and easy gifts. If you're in the same boat, here are a few idea's we've successfully used in the past:

photo used with permission
  • Root Beer Sampler--Santa brought my husband one of these for Christmas last year, and I'm pretty sure he thought it was the best present ever! You can buy individual bottles of rare and vintage sodas online at and they'll ship them to you. If you want to do this for Father's Day this year, however, you could always just buy a bunch of nice root beers and sodas at the grocery store and make a nice little mix. If your husband is anything like mine, he won't mind that you have a bunch of leftovers. From Erin Jang of Indigo Bunting. Click HERE to see Erin's fun post.

photo used with permission

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Shop Spotlight and Giveaway: Sweet Eventide

All photos in this post are the property of Sweet Eventide

Way back when (definitely 2010, but no clue what month!), I happened to sign up to participate in sfgirlbybay's Blog It Forward event. Hundreds of bloggers participated, and we all jumped around every day for weeks and weeks checking out each other's blogs, interests, eye candy, and inspirations. Blog It Forward introduced me to tons of new, gorgeous blogs, but the number of participants was so overwhelming that I don't remember a lot of them now. There is one notable exception: Sweet Eventide by Jessica Nichols. Jess's day to post came before mine. I commented on her post (it was very inspirational, after all), she responded, she commented on mine when the day came, I responded, bada-boom, bada-bing, now we're friends!

Sweet Eventide showcases Jess's dreamy photography, which is available for purchase through her Etsy shop, also named Sweet Eventide. Here's a little introduction to Jess, her blog, and her shop. And be sure to read all the way to the bottom for an chance to win one of her gorgeous pictures!

M & E: Tell us a little bit about yourself.
Jess: I have a hard time with the bio bit so I'm going to steal from my Flickr profile and my blog's About Jess page: "I'm a writer and photographer. I'm a Virgo who doesn't make lists. I share art, photography and other beautiful, inspiring thing on my blog Sweet Eventide. I'm a mama to one 7-year-old boy that I call The Noodle and I'm happily married to Jeff. I'm a four-time survivor of non-Hodgkins lymphoma and eventide is my favorite time of day. I love all of the following things: bokeh, polaroids, lisa mitchell, surf art and culture, even though I am not a surfer, sustainable food, cities, making stuff by hand, pretty papers, lanterns and twinkle lights, red wine, all things Italy, the french language, and guitars.

M & E:
How long have you been taking pictures?
Jess: I first started taking pictures at 15 in my high school's only photography class. I have always had a camera but I began taking pictures in earnest again once I became a mother seven years ago. When I began blogging in 2006, my interest in photography grew more and more intense.

M & E:
Do you have any formal photography training or are you self-taught?
Jess: I am a self-taught photographer, minus the one class in high school. My father (deceased) was an avid photographer with a darkroom at times during my childhood so I think there is a genetic component to it.

M & E: Are you strictly a digital girl or do you use film too?
I am not strictly a digital girl. I fell in love with Polaroids again through blogging and my husband surprised me with an SX-70 last September. When I can get my hands on film for it, I am in camera heaven. I have a small collection of vintage film cameras but so far, I haven't gotten my hands on the right film to try them out.

M & E:
When did you decide to start an Etsy shop? And how's that going? For us, we seem to have months of inactivity broken up with little spurts of orders. Funny how that happens! Jess: I had an Etsy shop a couple of years ago because I liked to make cards and invitations. I really didn't make it a priority so I let it go. When I relaunched my blog in the spring of 2009, with a new name and look, I decided to venture back into Etsy and focus solely on my photography. I still really believe that it's possible to get out of Etsy what you put into it, even though it has grown so large and overwhelming since I first discovered it. When I am actively listing items, promoting them and advertising the shop, I definitely see an increase in views and sales. I really dream of my shop providing a steady, part-time income for me.

M & E:
Do you have a favorite place to take pictures?
Yes, my favorite place to take pictures is someplace new to me. Nothing inspires me more than a change of scenery. I am especially drawn to cities. I get to San Francisco and Portland mostly, but boy do I daydream about New York and Europe from behind my lens(es). I also love to be in wide, open spaces in nature with my camera.

M & E:
What is your favorite type of thing to photograph? Flowers? Machinery?
Jess: My favorite type of thing to photograph is that thing that most other people don't notice: doorknobs, small objects on a desk, collections of things. I do swoon over spring blossoms so I find my camera pointing that way constantly. I also have a fondness for photographing children's toys after they've been played with and are left strewn about.

M & E:
Being a cancer survivor probably affects every aspect of your life. Do you think it affects you as an artist, and how so?
Definitely. I've been known to say that cancer is the window through which I view the world now. It's not always an intense awareness but it is always there. Survivorship affects me as an artist because while I was always detail-oriented, it is more heightened because cancer has taught me over and over again that life is precious and it is the small moments and the small things that make up a happy, good life for me.

Jess is generously offering to giveaway one of her gorgeous Dahlia prints in a 4x6 size!

To enter, swing by her shop, Sweet Eventide on Etsy, then leave a comment on this post telling us what your favorite photos are. I'll get you guys started, just in case you can't narrow it down: I love the Satsumas print, and I own the Old Singer print. It hangs just above my desk!

You can get extra entries by becoming a follower of Jess's blog, Sweet Eventide, or by making a purchase from her shop before the giveaway ends. Just leave comments on this post telling us what you've done. The contest will end next Monday, June 14th. Thanks Jess, and Good Luck readers!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

New in the Store: Earrings and Aprons and Blankies, Oh My!

As mentioned a few weeks ago, we've been very busy lately. One of us had a baby (not me), and the other sewed up a storm in anticipation of our biannual craft boutique. Now that the boutique is behind us, we have lots of cute, new items in the shop. Our brand, spankin' new items are

And we have some updated Oldies-but-Goodies in all new colors and fabrics: Button Bobbies, Itty Bitty Boo-Boo Kits, Little Baby Blankies, Little Artist Crayon Kits, Little Chef Aprons, and Infant Carseat Covers.