A Nest for All Seasons A Nest for All Seasons: August 2015

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28 August 2015

Oatmeal Spice Painted Leaf Soap

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Does it feel like fall yet in your neck of the woods?  I am totally jealous.  We are still in Puerto Rico and fall sounds like a distant memory.  I am missing the crisp air, the toppling leaves finished with life and the wonderful marching band drums of football Fridays. We will be coming back to Pennsylvania later this fall and my excitement is almost tangible at this point. Until then, I am sharing a few autumn crafts with you that I previously published over at Crafts Unleashed last fall.  Join me as I pretend is is cooler than 80 degrees outside...

DIY Painted Oatmeal Leaf Soap for Autumn Fall Microwave Soap by Amy Renea

Today's homemade soap craft is a very simple one indeed!  You need a few simple supplies and very 
basic artistic skills to create these simple, charming oatmeal spiced soaps.  Let's start with the base!

Supplies needed to make your own homemade soap:

INSTRUCTIONS:

Cut your soap into cubes and melt slowly in a double boiler or very carefully in the microwave.  If using the microwave, heat in increments of 10-30 seconds until the soap reaches a liquid state.  Be very careful as the hot liquid can "pop" if you are not careful (just like a hot bowl of soup!).

DIY Painted Oatmeal Leaf Soap for Autumn Fall Microwave Soap by Amy Renea

Once the soap is uniformly liquid, but has not reached boiling, add your fragrance oil.  
For around 20 cubes of soap, I added 20-30 drops of fragrance.  If you like more, go for it!

DIY Painted Oatmeal Leaf Soap for Autumn Fall Microwave Soap by Amy Renea


Sometimes the soap develops a slight "skin" as it starts to cool.  
Just use a toothpick and swirl to incorporate your fragrance oil and remove the skin.

DIY Painted Oatmeal Leaf Soap for Autumn Fall Microwave Soap by Amy Renea

As soon as you finish, carefully pour the melted soap into your molds.  Note:  I used an old ashtray as my mixing container because it was nearby.  If this is your first time working with homemade soap, please use a container with a small "spout" so that pouring will be easier for you.  A glass mixing bowl is perfect.

DIY Painted Oatmeal Leaf Soap for Autumn Fall Microwave Soap by Amy Renea

Allow the soap to set until it is almost completely hardened.  The key word is *almost*.  
This step is the hardest part because you must wait until the soap is solid enough to lift out of the pan, yet flexible enough to add the leaf detail.

DIY Painted Oatmeal Leaf Soap for Autumn Fall Microwave Soap by Amy Renea

To add the leaf imprint, simply give the leaf a good push into the top layer of the homemade soap.  Again, be careful.  If the soap is not set enough, you can press down too hard and liquid soap can pop onto you. (I give warnings just in case, but working with soap is not difficult.  Just use caution!)

DIY Painted Oatmeal Leaf Soap for Autumn Fall Microwave Soap by Amy Renea

Once the homemade soap is fully cooled and hardened, you can add color.  
I use the food color gels because they are easier to apply than the liquids and give a nice, strong color. 
Mix oranges, reds and yellows for pretty fall combinations or stick to a solid brown or copper.

DIY Painted Oatmeal Leaf Soap for Autumn Fall Microwave Soap by Amy Renea

To remove any mistakes, place the metal leaf back into the homemade soap. 
Rub around the edges with a lightly wet finger to remove any stray bits of color.  

This works for small mistakes, but large amounts of color are much harder to remove if you goof.  Paint slowly!


DIY Painted Oatmeal Leaf Soap for Autumn Fall Microwave Soap by Amy Renea
Once your color is dry, the homemade soaps are ready to gift or use!




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23 August 2015

DIY Concrete Humpty Dumpty Stepping Stone

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I have always been a wee bit scared of working with concrete, cement and hypertufa. In my mind, it was messy, difficult and would ruin everything it touched, including my hands, my house, my kitchen, my tools.  You get the picture.  WELL.  'Tis not true, my friends!  Yes, it was slightly messier than my pom pom ceiling, but not any more messy than making clay plant tags or working with DIY playdoughs and such.  I have completely overcome my fear of cement and might just jump over into the camp of "I wanna make as many things as possible out of concrete".

Cement VS Concrete -- Let's get something straight right away.  Concrete and cement are not the same thing. Concrete is made out of cement mixed with small rocks, etc.  Craft projects are typically made of cement, though concrete might be used for larger items like planting troughs.  Concrete is more often seen as a driveway or parking lot covering.    However, the words are often used interchangeably.  Let's get started, shall we?

SUPPLIES:  There are several different cement "kits" that Consumer Crafts has, but there are also a bunch of tools and accessories that would be fun to work with in cement or concrete.  I am going to show you a few options and give you some idea for a few more.  Here are the two kits I used:



I would also try:




I also want to test out:


or


or


or


As you can see, the options are pretty much limitless once you get going, but you basically need your cement, a mold and something to make it FUN!   The plastic molds in the kit work perfectly (we made the flower), but I also used a metal pan and cardboard box as molds with success.  I sprayed all of them with cooking spray to be on the safe side before pouring the cement.  Today, I want to share my "broken" Easter egg stepping stones inspired by Mr. Humpty Dumpty himself.  I used the large cement bag from the BASIC kit, a large oval metal pan and the letters from the flower kit for this project.

DIY Concrete Humpty Dumpty Stepping Stone

INSTRUCTIONS:

1. Start with a large oval pan, sprayed with cooking spray.  Fold a piece of cardboard for the "broken" part of the egg and spray with cooking spray.  Place in pan/mold.

Humpty Dumpty Broken Stepping Stone for Crafts Unleashed by Amy Renea DIY Mold

2. Mix your cement in a throwaway box or pan with water.  Follow the instructions on your kit for the amount of water, but basically, it should look like brownie dough.  BE CAREFUL when opening the bag, pouring and mixing as the dust should not be breathed in.  This is a great project for outdoors due to this, but we were able to do it indoors fine.  We just had to work slowly.

Humpty Dumpty Broken Stepping Stone for Crafts Unleashed by Amy Renea Mixing

3. Pour cement into both sides of the pan, making sure it fits snugly against the cardboard piece to make nice, clean "broken" egg divisions.

Humpty Dumpty Broken Stepping Stone for Crafts Unleashed by Amy Renea Wet Concrete

4.  Smooth cement with fingers, using the back of the hand to get "wavy" lines.

Humpty Dumpty Broken Stepping Stone for Crafts Unleashed by Amy Renea Stamping Letters

5. When the cement is the consistency of gritty, chunky playdough (it should have give, but also be slightly firm), press your letters in to make whatever saying or text you choose.  You will know the cement is too "wet" if your letters just disappear after pressing.  Wait awhile and try again.

TIP - CUT the letters apart instead of trying to twist them apart.  They cut easily, but are a pain in the rear to twist apart.

Humpty Dumpty Broken Stepping Stone for Crafts Unleashed by Amy Renea Cutting Letters

TIP #2 -  The nice thing about concrete is that it is forgiving.  Make a mistake?

Humpty Dumpty Broken Stepping Stone for Crafts Unleashed by Amy Renea oops
Just "erase" it with your finger and start again.
Humpty Dumpty Broken Stepping Stone for Crafts Unleashed by Amy Renea Stamping Wet Concrete

6. Once the lettering is complete, you simply have to be patient.  Let the cement dry completely (24 hours at the very least, 36 to be safe) and then gently unmold the stepping stone.  Note: The cement will whiten and become completely solid to the touch once fully dry.

Humpty Dumpty Broken Stepping Stone for Crafts Unleashed by Amy Renea Drying

I gently turned the pan over inside a large cardboard box and the pieces came out easily with no breakage.

Humpty Dumpty Broken Stepping Stone for Crafts Unleashed by Amy Renea Mold Break

7. You can coat your stone with a sealer for longevity or leave it as is, but give it a spot of honor outdoors and enjoy!

Humpty Dumpty Broken Stepping Stone for Crafts Unleashed by Amy Renea
Now if only I could rid myself of the fear of knitting...

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22 August 2015

How to Find a Blog Post You Accidentally Deleted (!!!)

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Don't wig out. It is ok. If you published the post and then deleted it, chances are you will be able to find it!  If you are still WRITING the post and you haven't left the screen, your first attempt should be a simple CTRL Z to recover the post.  If you published the post and then tried to mess around with formatting on your ipad and delete the whole thing...here is what to do!

A. Check your feed. You should be subscribed to your feed via email and if the post was sent out via email, you can at least recover all the text, copy and paste back into your blog.  You might have to reformat, but better than rewriting, eh?

B. Check the Google Cache for your blog.  #suchalifesaver  Basically, google "files" your blog posts and even if you delete it, you can dig it off the "Google bookshelf" and republish.  Here is how:

Simply type in   site:yourblogurl.com    Mine is   site:anestforallseasons.com  

You will see a screen like this pop up.  See under "June" and October" where it has a geren web address that ends with 'archive'?  Click the arrow there and then click "cached".


When you click 'cached' it is like magic:


Your whole post -- pictures -- links -- everything.

Literally select the ENTIRE thing including pictures, press CTRL C (copy), then go into your blogging platform where the post was deleted, press CTRL V (paste) and EVERYTHING comes back.  #suchalifesaver


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20 August 2015

Autumn Turkey Hummus Croissants

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You know, Thanksgiving is really not the only time for turkey. If you have mastered the art of roast chicken or making leftover dishes from a good old rotisserie chicken from the grocery store, you can probably handle a turkey. If you are home with your kids during the day or home over the weekend, the turkey can cook away all day in the oven and you have dinner one night and leftovers for weeks. Turkey shepherd's pie, turkey sandwiches, turkey broth and chunks as a base for fall soups or even ground up for a mild meatloaf. One of my favorites is this simple turkey hummus croissant with cranberries.
 
 
You can also start with turkey breasts, roasted in the oven and served for dinner.
  The leftover pieces are mixed in with or simply topped with your favorite hummus.
Sprinkle  dried cranberries as top for a tart little bite or try dried cherries for a twist!
 

Autumn Turkey Hummus Croissants

SERVES 8
8 Fresh Croissants (Giant has great ones!)
2 cups shredded, leftover roasted turkey
1 cup hummus (my favorite recipe HERE)
pinch of kosher salt
1/4 cup dried cherries or cranberries
 
1. Roast turkey whole or turkey breasts.  Shred leftover meat.
2. Place a 1/4 c shredded meat on fresh croissant and top with 1/8 c hummus.
3. Sprinkle with salt and dried fruit to taste.
 
 
So be brave...check the grocery store for sales and grab up a cheap turkey when you see one!

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17 August 2015

Fall Acorn Bunting

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Have you ever burned your thumb with hot glue?  NO FUN!  Have you been scared of using a hot glue gun for the first time because of the stories of searing thumb pain?  Well, that is understandable, but if you are a crafting newbie, I would like to encourage you to try out hot glue.  It is not nearly as intimidating as you might think!  I am going to walk you through the basics and then hand it over to some of my favorite crafting bloggers for their advice.  First off though, you will need the following:

Supplies:

Now there are lots of different sizes and both low and high temp options, so choose based on what you will be crafting.  Unless you are working with teensy, tiny crafts, I would recommend starting with a medium sized gun like this one. (This particular gun is also a dual temperature gun).  When shopping for hot glue sticks, make sure you are getting either high, low or dual temp sticks based on the type of glue gun you have, and be sure to get the right size!  Those miniature glue guns will not work with standard sized glue sticks and vice versa.

Now before we get started with the nitty gritty, let's talk about WHY hot glue is fabulous, shall we?  First of all, it can attach almost anything to almost anything else.  Wood to metal to paper to cork.  Brilliant.

Hot glue is also magical in that it causes less damage than your average adhesive.  In college, we used to attach photos and such to our cement block walls with hot glue because you could simply pull the whole thing off, hot glue and all, at the end of the year.  Of course, hot glue won't come off paper or drywall without ripping, but you get my point, right?  That same quality applies to those little "accidents" -- the strings of glue that hang off your projects and the "overflow" that sometimes occurs when you use too much?  Those are easy to pull off and away when dry, making projects look seamless.

Just remember...NEVER touch hot glue when it is HOT!  Just don't!

Moving on, I am going to take you through a couple projects that show off the basics of the hot glue gun.  First off? Easter Egg Checkers.  I had to attach the little wooden eggs to the bottlecaps with hot glue, making sure they were attached perfectly straight up and down before the glue dried.

How to use a Hot Glue Gun by Amy Renea of A Nest for All Seasons

See that long string of glue hanging from the tip of the gun?  That is the WRONG way to do it friends!

Beginner's Tip:  DO NOT hold the glue gun super far away from the object you are gluing.
Those strings are easy to remove, but why make more mess than you need to?

How to use a Hot Glue Gun by Amy Renea of A Nest for All Seasons

Getting better...

THERE we go!

How to use a Hot Glue Gun by Amy Renea of A Nest for All Seasons

Put that gun right next to the object and use a small amount of glue. 
 Lay off the trigger,  pull the tip sideways just a bit to "cap" the glue and pull away.

Leave the trigger slightly pushed in and you will end up with:

How to use a Hot Glue Gun by Amy Renea of A Nest for All Seasons

Don't "cap" the glue by sliding it against the object and you'll end up with:

How to use a Hot Glue Gun by Amy Renea of A Nest for All Seasons

Beginner's Tip:  Remember, put that gun right next to the object and use a small amount of glue.  Lay off the trigger,  pull the tip sideways just a bit to "cap" the glue and pull away.


For these clay plant labels, I was attaching baked (hard) clay to a matte finish clay pot, so I used copious amounts of very hot glue to attach them.  I needed quite a bit of glue because the tags were slightly curved to fit the shape of the pot, but needed a really good seal around the edges to hold firm.

Beginner's Tip:  Let the glue gun warm up fully before attempting to use it.  The hotter the glue is, the better the glue will work!


How to use a Hot Glue Gun by Amy Renea of A Nest for All Seasons

On this calendar project, I was attaching a plastic piece to a mod-podged paper backing. 
 I used a lower temp so everything wouldn't melt.

Beginner's Tip:  Make sure you allow the glue to dry fully before moving the project.  Hot glue dries quickly, but not THAT quickly.  You don't want an ooey, gooey mess on your hands! (see below)


Weather resistant garden calendar - Crafts Unleashed

This tiered aluminum stand required very hot glue and a steady hand.  I had to attach the pans to both wood coins and broken candles, as well as attaching the wooden coins together for the complete bottom tier.  The most difficult part of the project was making sure the glue was hot enough to attach the candles to the metal without completely melting the candles.  I tested the glue gun out on scrap pieces of the candle until it just starting to melt the wax, then worked fast!  In this case, I added more glue than I thought I needed because it was easier to go back and troubleshoot glue strings and overflow than it was to work slowly and risk melting candles.

cake pan tiered display fruit wood amy renea a nest for all seasons title shot

Beginner's Tip:  Evaluate your materials before starting to glue.  
Use the right temperature and when in doubt, TEST!!

cake pan tiered display fruit wood amy renea a nest for all seasons wood stacked post

Now I didn't want you to simply hear my advice on the subject, so I rounded up a few of the best crafters in blogland to give you their best tips and tricks!  Hold onto your hats because they are coming at you fast and furious!  Let's go!

Temperature Woes:

Sharon of Crafts and Coffee says:  "If you're using a glue gun on Styrofoam, be sure it's a low-temp glue gun. You can use a high-temp gun, but it might melt a small portion of the foam." (and she is our resident expert on Styrofoam, so listen up folks!)

Shannon of Madigan Made shared this glue gun fail with the simple advice:  "Heat + candy = melted mess."

Ooey, Gluey Messes:

Sara of Craft Snob says: "Only squeeze half the glue out that you think you need. Less burns, less strings, and more glue for more projects!"

Lisa of Condo Blues says: "Place a piece or scrap of tile under the glue gun to catch glue drips."

Tracie of Cleverly Inspired says: "I usually use my glue gun in the kitchen so I pull out a piece of parchment paper to catch the goo...just toss in the trash when you are done."

Glue Gun Ouchies:

Kimbo of A Girl and a GLUE GUN (!) says: "Put a bowl of ice water nearby to hurry and dip your finger in if you get hot glue on it. it has saved us numerous times!"

Allison of House of Hepworths simply advises: "My tip? Don't burn yourself. It hurts like a beyoch."

After the Glue:

Connie of Measured by the Heart says: "I found out the hard way not to use it for something hanging in the window because the heat from the sun warmed up and melted the hot glue. My project fell apart. So think about where you are going to put your final project before deciding to use hot glue."

Susan of Suzy's Sitcom says:  "Take a blow dryer to your project when you are done, and all the little strings will disappear!"

Products:

Sharon recommends Hot Glue Gun Helpers and Lisa of Condo Blues agrees!  "Wear the Hot Glue Gun Helpers because it is freaking hard to type the next day with a big ol' blister on your pointer fingers. Best 5 bucks I ever spent."

Now it is YOUR turn!  

What are your best tips for using hot glue, keeping mess to a minimum and keeping your fingers burn free?


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Fall Acorn Bunting

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Well, school has started today which means fall has officially begun!  (even though it is still 88 degrees :) One of my favorite fall activities is a walk under the oaks, collecting acorns like a squirrel prepping for winter.  Instead of eating these abundant nuts, I choose the fattest and cutest for fun acorn crafts!  Today I am going to show you how to make a very simple acorn and canvas bunting.  The sewing is minimal but gives the rustic bunting a nice hand crafted feel.

Handmade Acorn Bunting with canvas Squares by "Amy Renea" for Crafts Unleashed

Supplies needed to make your own acorn crafts bunting:

INSTRUCTIONS:

Handmade Acorn Bunting with canvas Squares by "Amy Renea" for Crafts Unleashed
STEP 3
Step 1. Choose your acorns and hot glue them to the center of each square.  You will also be securing them with yarn, but the initial hot glue makes your life a lot easier!

Handmade Acorn Bunting with canvas Squares by "Amy Renea" for Crafts UnleashedStep 2. Start the bunting by making a nice, solid knot on the back of one canvas square.  Leave 5-6" of a "tail" as the start of your bunting and 12-24" on your needle to start sewing.

Step 3. Loop the thread from back to front around the acorn twice to secure and for that great color!

Step 4. Make several small straight stitches along the top of the garland for decorative effect, but also to help keep the top of the bunting hanging straight.

Step 5.  Your last stitch can wrap around the outside edge twice for a secure end, then leave 3-4" free before starting your next canvas square.

Step 6. Knot your next canvas square and repeat steps 1-5 with all your squares. Each acorn crafts square takes 2-3 minutes.

Step 7. Complete the garland by adding a finishing knot on the back of the last square, then leaving a 5-6" tail to complete the acorn crafts bunting.


Step 8. Hang the bunting from end to end without much slack in the middle.  Unlike most garlands, the acorns makes this one pretty heavy!  It will tend to sag in the middle if it is not pulled fairly tight.  This is also why you want to make sure not to skip the knots on the back of the squares and those stitches on the top of the acorn crafts!

Acorn Canvas Bunting for Fall Autumn by Amy Renea at "A Nest for All Seasons"
STEP 7

Acorn Canvas Bunting for Fall Autumn by Amy Renea at "A Nest for All Seasons"

If you DO want a little slack in your acorn crafts bunting, try stringing it against a flat surface,
 like this chalkboard, to give support to the back of the bunting! Better be ready, Better beware...

Acorn Canvas Bunting for Fall Autumn by Amy Renea at "A Nest for All Seasons"

A cluster pom garland (made from THIS fall assortment for $1.17
makes a fun accent to contrast the white canvas and highlight the oranges and browns of the acorns/thread!


Acorn Canvas Bunting for Fall Autumn by Amy Renea at "A Nest for All Seasons"
Post previously published on Crafts Unleashed

Happy Fall Y'all!

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