Khepri Designs: Halloween Part 2 (pumpkins, monsters, and more!)

20121030-183520.jpgI have been busy carving pumpkins and making pumpkin seeds and doing science experiments today! Okay, I actually carved my pumpkins yesterday, but I took the seeds out of the kids pumpkins today so they can carve them tonight. So I figure that counts.
I carved 2 pumpkins yesterday–a little spider web with Spidey eyes and a larger Frankenstein. I love them! It turns out my pumpkin creativity comes back when I carve them myself (shhhh, don’t tell the kids!). I also managed to roast the pumpkin seeds today too, and we’re enjoying them as I write this! (If you don’t know, just clean the seeds, add some salt and throw them in the oven at 350 degrees or so until they are brown…tasty goodness!)

20121030-184005.jpgI also started a couple science experiments with K-Dogg today. I pulled a couple seeds that were sprouting out of the pumpkin, so I thought we should plant them. Just for learning’s sake, we also planted plain seeds and a couple seeds that were ‘flat’ (just shells, not fully developed seeds). I made K-Dogg look at the differences, then we planted them in three cups and put them in the window. I hope they grow more!

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We also made the ghost goo for the apothecary–glow in the dark slime. K-Dogg couldn’t decide whether this was an art project or a science one, but I managed to get a science lesson on atoms and elements and chemistry in there.

20121030-184509.jpgThe goo is great, and the kids are having fun with it (and it is a good addition to my apothecary!). The recipe I used is as follows:
2 tsp borax dissolved in 1/3 cup warm water
1-4oz bottle Elmer’s clear glue (I used blue gel; it worked great)
1 cup water
2-3 Tbsp glow in the dark paint
Neon green food dye
Whisk the glue and water together, and add GITD paint and food dye to desired color. Slowly add the borax mix; the more you add, the stiffer the goo. Start with about 2 Tbsp; mix and it will stiffen up. I actually pull the goo mix out and mix it with my hands, then add more borax mix to the liquid left in the cup to make more. This one is really a trial and error thing for me!

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20121030-185859.jpgI thought I should also post my other halloween decorations –this is the wreath I made a couple weeks ago, which I just added a few glitter skulls and hands to a feather wreath I picked up from Michaels on sale.

20121030-190116.jpgWe made these spider egg nests last year, filling white stockings with poly fill, adding plastic spiders (the kids wanted the colored ones), and another white stocking around it all with a few random spiders. We added some fake spider webs to the outside to make it a little more spider-y.

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20121030-190445.jpgLast year, the kids and I also made these mason jar monsters– we painted the mason jars with acrylic paints, added eyes and mouths, and put little tea lights in them to light them up at night.

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Have I mentioned how much I love Halloween?!?

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Khepri Designs: Halloween Part 1 (Apothecary)

20121028-091430.jpgHalloween is in full swing around our house! I finally got around to making my apothecary, which I have wanted to do for several years now. I thought I would share, since I am so excited about it! (Can you tell Halloween is my favorite holiday?)

20121028-091754.jpgI started a week-or-so ago, making apothecary jars from dollar store items. I found glass jars with lids and glass candlesticks, and spray painted the lids of the jars and the candlesticks black. I then hot glued the jars to the candlesticks. Easy peasy!

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I also started making my gnome heads last week–carved apple heads! I love how they turned out. I just carved faces into peeled and cored apples, then let them sit on the window sill for a week to dry out. Squishy gnome heads done!

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We then hit up our local antique stores to find more jars and a stand, and found a great one that is old and wooden. I printed out a bunch of labels, some which I found online (Johnny Love of lovemanor.com has some fantastic ones that can be downloaded for personal use from his Flickr feed) and some of which I created myself. Then it was just about trying to fill the bottles!

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We have swamp fog (cotton balls with blue-dyed water), zombie virus (bright green food dye and water), live cockroaches being eaten by a crow (plastic cockroaches), demon horns (I made these from Crayola Model Magic), eyeballs (not yet filled), life renewal potion (sea salt and glitter), snake oil (vegetable oil with a tail from a sticky hand floating in it), graveyard dust (flour), moon dust (sugar and glitter), vampire blood (fake blood left over from a photo shoot), Phoenix feathers (red, orange and yellow feathers), human flesh (beef jerky), the gnome heads, influenza virus (water dyed with a little green, blue, and black dye), pickled mice (plastic mice floating in water), toasted bat wings (cut up plastic bats), dead mans toes (dried black eyed peas), fur of werewolf (fuzzy yarn cut up), ghost goo (not yet filled, but I plan on making glow in the dark slime with the kids and use that), toadstool clippings (out of stock), and poison (the bottle is sealed shut). So much fun to make and so much fun for halloween!

Khepri Designs: Wood Letters

20121013-165629.jpgBaby shower presents part 2! Our other present to the new mom-to-be was the baby’s name in wood letters. My sister came home with the letters, with the instruction to me to “do something with them.” Hmmmm… Pinterest?
I found lots of pins on adding scrapbooking paper to wood letters, which I thought worked out perfectly since I could match the letters to the baby’s room colors. I just outlined the letters on the back side of the paper, then cut just inside the lines. (I tried to use my exacto knife and just cut around the letters but found that they didn’t cut as well). I then mod podged the letters to the front of the wood letters, and sanded the edges of the paper down where it was needed. Two coats of mod podge over the letters sealed them up!

20121013-171640.jpgI then attached two black ribbons to the top of each letter with heavy duty fabric glue (the kind in the tube) and tied the tops in bows. Super cute–I’m sure I will be making more!

Kalliope Kids: Baby Blankets

20121013-163456.jpgBaby shower today! And since it is over, I can now share with you the presents I made! The first is a set of blankets and burp cloths. I made two versions–one a double blanket, one a single for the different weather (it gets so hot here in the summer that the single layer version is a necessity, but the doubles are always nice to keep baby warm in the winter!).
I like to use a yard of fabric, then cut the width down to make a square. That way I can use the excess to make some matching burp cloths (extra little towels to wipe are always handy. I still use the ones I made for Meeska even though he no longer spits up). So basically I fold in a corner to make a large triangle, then cut off the excess strip. For the single layered blanket, I just serged the edge, rounding the corners as I went. The double I serged the two layers together, right sides together, leaving a hole, and flipped it right side out and top-stitched it.

20121013-164841.jpgFor the burp cloths I just cut the extra strip of fabric in three, serged the edges and they were done! (I would have made some of the double-sided ones, but one of the fabrics I bought wasn’t as wide and the strip was too narrow to do anything with). Not a hard project, but one that is very handy. You can never have enough blankets around for baby for the first year!

Miscellaneous: Laundry and Dishwasher Soap

20121013-103346.jpgI made detergent! Lots of people do, but I never have. So this is news around my house.
I had been seeing lots of pins on Pinterest about making your own laundry detergent and dishwasher detergent, and it made me interested. Especially since I do sooooo much laundry around this house (three kids, three adults, three dogs makes for quite a bit of mess) and I thought that it would be nice to have a large amount for much less money. So I tried it out.
It turns out the actual process of making the soap is not that time consuming. I bit of mixing and some grating. The only issue I had was finding a bowl large enough to hold all the soap while I was mixing it (I never found one–I just mixed it in a garbage bag). I have yet to try out the laundry detergent–I am still trying to finish off the last bottle of store bought. And I don’t want to tell my sister when I try it out–she has skin allergies and I want to see if it irritates her without telling her when I use it because she thinks it is going to bother her (yes, Kristy, I am playing mind games with you…).

20121013-104225.jpgI also made dishwasher detergent, and that I HAVE tried out, and it is fantastic! The white film on my glasses has disappeared, and I am very excited about that! I put both of my detergents in glass jars, which I etched with glass etch just for fun. The laundry detergent makes about 2 gallons of soap, so I divided it into two 1-gallon jars. (There are 2-gallon glass jars out there, but I wanted my soap in screw-top jars and the 2-gallon ones didn’t screw. I thought having the screw top would seal it better, since it is soap–I want to keep water out until I use it!).
Here are the recipes I used in case you want to try too!

Laundry Detergent:
1 box Borax
1 box A&H baking soda
1 box A&H washing soda
1 large tub OxyClean
3 bars Fels-Naptha soap, grated

Mix it all up, and use 1-2 tablespoons per load. Add 1/4 cup white vinegar to the fabric softener dispenser for an extra clean rinse!
Recipe from beingcreativetokeepmysanity.blogspot.com!

Dishwasher Soap:
1 1/2 cups Lemi-Shine
1 1/2 cups A&H washing soda
1/2 cup A&H baking soda
1/2 cup sea salt

Mix it all up, and use 1-2 tablespoons per load. Add vinegar to the jet-dry dispenser or to a cup in the top rack of the dishwasher for a rinse aid.
Recipe from theecofriendlyfamily.com!

(I have read that vinegar can degrade plastic parts, at least in the dishwasher. Use these recipes at your own risk!)

05/2013 UPDATE: I just ran out of laundry soap, and believe me, I do a LOT of laundry. So this stuff lasts quite a while. And I love it. It works just as well as the other brands I was using (which admittedly is not perfect, but I saw no difference in quality) and the price and longevity can’t be beat. The dishwasher soap, on the other hand, was a total fail…

Kalliope Kids: I-Spy Bag

20121008-142913.jpgMy latest project for the littlest one: an I-spy bag! Apparently I am late to the game on this one–I was shown one of these by another circus mom, and had never seen one before (although I have made a version of this in a bottle for the girl, now that I think about it). I showed it to Meeska, and he was hooked! He didn’t want to give it back, so I took that to mean he needed one of his very own. And here it is!

20121008-143211.jpgThe bag itself was easy peasy, but finding little objects to put in it was not! For the bag, I layered two pirate-y fabrics (skulls and stripes). (I made sure to line the bag because the inside is visible when you move the insides around.) I filled the bag with poly beads, and the little items I chose–I did make sure to take a picture of them before packing and sewing up the bag.

20121008-144221.jpgOn the back of the bag, I added a pocket with a ribbon to attach the item list. I just printed out a copy of the picture I took, laminated it (I do love my laminating machine!), and sewed the ribbon through a punched hole on it. That way, the item list can come out of the pocket and even wrap around to the front, for easy comparison when looking for stuff, and won’t get lost!