New Fun in Nail Art!

I’ve wanted some Konad stamping tools for quite some time. The idea of being able to put intricate designs on my nails in my choice of color is super fun!  I like to do nail art by hand, but I rarely have the time, so the speed of this method is very appealing! Plus, I have two little girlies, one of whom begs for “pretty nails” at least a few times a week, so I knew that this kind of thing would get quite the workout around here.

I finally got a stamper, some special polish, and a couple of image plates for a late Christmas present! Woohoo! I’ll write more about it later, but thought I’d show a couple of quick shots of my first manicure with the Konad stamper and image plates. 

I first painted my nails in a sparkly ice blue, then stamped a single white snowflake with the Konad special polish. I can see that there’s a bit of a learning curve, and they weren’t quite as perfect as I’d hoped, but I still liked them. Still, I thought they might look better with a tad more dimension, so I added some darker blue snowflakes on top with a random polish that I had lying around. Definite improvement!

Snowflake manicure

My stamping got better as I got used to handling the tools and more familiar with the steps in the process. I didn’t get a very good photo of this one. I found it hard to balance getting enough light for the detail to show up without it shining too brightly off of the glittery polish. And I think it is quite clear that I have no future as a hand model!

Snowflake manicure

Overall, I was very impressed with the level of detail available in the plates, and I’m looking forward to trying more designs with these fun products!

And I think snowflakes are so pretty, don’t you?

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Car themed Valentines

I wanted to make Valentines with the girls that would incorporate several different fun activities. That way, we could work on them a bit each day.

Don’t you just love tutorials on blogs with step-by-step instructions and tons of great pictures? Me, too! But this isn’t one of them. Maybe I’ll do that some day, but for now, I’m keeping busy enough doing these fun things with a 5-year-old and a 3-year-old, while trying to keep a young baby happy, so trying to get all of the perfect photos would have made the process drag out longer than I was willing to! Besides that, it’s no fun for the kids if I’m constantly telling them to stop, so I can get a picture of the next bit, and I’m not good enough to juggle getting several shots while they are busy without getting paint on my camera!

I started with a giant sheet of white craft paper. I bought a roll at Michael’s or Hobby Lobby with a 40% off coupon, and it has been one of the best purchases ever! It is so versatile, and it was inexpensive enough that I don’t mind laying it down to protect the table for other projects. I took a piece big enough to cover one whole end of the table and squirted white and red tempera paint on it, then let them go to town with paintbrushes. They saw that red and white make pink, and had a blast making swirls and splats. (Side note: spell check does not like “splats,” but I think it is a very useful word! Now I’m feeling all defiant, and I’m going to try to sneak it in to several more posts!) Some parts near my older daughter’s careful strokes were nice and marbled, and others near Bunny’s energetic flailings were just solid pink, but it was fun! My girls cannot get enough paint, so it was quite thick. I laid some pieces of plain white paper on top, then peeled them right off. We got some fun, more subtle imprints that way. You can see them to the sides of the main piece below.

After the pink swirly paint dried, I put some black tempera paint on a paper plate and gave them each some cars to drive through the paint and all over the pink. This is what we got:

The trick is to find some toy cars with a distinct pattern on the wheel. Most of the little matchbox cars in our collection have only plain wheels, so I had to pull out the three vehicles I could find with some kind of tread on the tire.

The big dump truck was the favorite, since it made the most obvious tire tracks and was easiest to hold onto. I thought cleanup would be awful, but it wasn’t bad at all! I may have to turn them loose on the patio with cars and washable paint one of these days.

They were very proud of their art work up to this point.

And Mr. Monkey was a doll, happily occupied in his swing for a while, doing his very important job of looking oh-so-cute!

The next day, we turned that big mess into Valentine’s. I started by cutting several hearts out of the pink swirly tire track madness. I gave each girl a few white index cards and some heart and kiss stamps and let them go to town. I also made some paper cars. You could go very fancy and make much nicer ones, but I was going for letting the girls do as much as possible, and I wanted my parts to go quickly. They put stickers on the wheels and glued the wheels to the cars. I wasn’t planning on faces on the cars, but the girls insisted.

I wrote a few car-themed Valentine’s Day messages on the stamped index cards. We glued the hearts, cars and sentiments to the front of some folded over white cardstock. We also added some dots of glue and a sprinkle of glitter. Because with little girls like mine, there is NEVER enough sparkle! 

I think it would be really easy to make these much more polished. I envision something similar folded over and stapled to the top of a little plastic baggie with a toy car inside as a great boy Valentine. (Note: Spell check does not like “baggie,” either! What is up with that?)

I hope this gives you some inspiration and fun ideas for your own twist, and I’d love to see them! Leave a link in the comments if you do something similar, so we can all share.

 

 

Stock Show part 2

Pony rides again, of course! This time with Grammie!

Pony ride with Grammie

I’m quite sure this is not the shot that anyone intended to get, but I absolutely love it!

A return to the carousel. They each wanted to try out different animals.

Another of my favorites from this day. I like the composition and love the colors!

Speaking of colors, check these out!

I’ve tried for the last year to get the girls on a kids’ roller coaster at every opportunity. Granted, that’s not many! I just knew they would love it, but Bunny was too small and Cricket would get right up to the front of the line, then get scared and bail. This time, without me saying a word, they both wanted to ride the dragon. The first time we were there, we didn’t have enough adults available to ride with them. On our second trip, my brother-in-law went with Cricket. It took her a bit of time to warm up to the ride, but she really did like it. I’m sure you can see from Bunny’s face how she felt about it! I could not stop laughing. Every time it dropped or sped up, she would scream with delight, then giggle until she was out of breath, then repeat it all the next time! I’m looking forward to the State Fair this fall to do it again!

 

 

Valentine’s Nails – Half Slant Hearts

This is one of my favorite designs ever, and it was so simple! Just two colors, some tape and a dotting tool.

I haven’t typically kept track of exactly which polishes I use. I’ve always felt that the point is the design, and that it can often be accomplished with similar shades. I’m not usually interested in exactly duplicating most designs, nor in having mine exactly duplicated. Not that I have a problem with it – if you love one, go right ahead, and I hope you enjoy it! (If you blog it, I’d appreciate a link to the post here.) But I love the creativity that I see when someone is inspired by something they see rather than copying it. And I hate that someone might feel that a certain design was impossible if they couldn’t get the exact products.

But I’m starting to see the other side of things. I’ll try to list the products that I use from this point on, though I doubt I’ll be 100% faithful to do so. Since this one was done, photographed and replaced before I blogged it, I can’t give you the products, but I’ll give you a quick rundown of the process.

I started with two coats of silver on the whole nail. Then I applied tape in a slant to cover the bottom section that I wanted to remain silver. I painted a deep red on the section that was left uncovered, and removed the tape. I was surprised at how nice the red looked over the silver. It seemed to really help give it some dimension and while it did brighten the color some, I loved the final result! Finally, I used a dotting tool to add three silver dots in the red section and a red heart in the silver section. I saw it in my head before I started, but it looked even better than I imagined! Since it’s easy to make your own dotting tool out of household items, this is a great introduction to nail art that uses very little in the way of specialized supplies or techniques.

I’d love to try this with other themes and colors. I think it would look fabulous in green with shamrocks for St. Patrick’s day, or in purple with a Konad stamp in the corner.

Fort Worth Stock Show and Rodeo

I am a proud native of Fort Worth, Texas, and one of my favorite events of every year is the Fort Worth Stock Show and Rodeo! I’ve never actually been to the rodeo, but it is most definitely on my bucket list. Growing up, we used to get a day off of school and free tickets to the Stock Show, and we went every year.  There are different breeds of cows, horses, donkeys, mules, goats, sheep, pigs, pigeons, chickens, rabbits, and llamas. Amazing food, a midway, shows and competitions, and tons of vendor booths.
 

It is so fun to be able to share this fabulous event with my children. We make it a big family affair – my sister’s family and my parents come, too! It makes it easier to wrangle the kids, especially now that ours outnumber their parents, and everyone enjoys spending time together.

The girls had to sit on one of the tractors. We took a picture for my husband’s grandfather, who farmed for years until his retirement a few years ago. John Deere, of course.

Girls on Tractor

There’s a photo booth with a big bull. They dress the kids up in chaps and hats, and they get to take a picture like a bull rider. We tried to get my little 21-month-old niece up there, but she wasn’t having any of it.

 
 We stopped by the Borden milk booth to pet Elsie and Beauregard. Beau and Mr. Monkey were both in the midst of peaceful baby sleep.
Elsie
 
 
 
Of course, the Stock Show wouldn’t be the Stock show without a pony ride! Bunny kept saying “I just LOVE riding these things!!” See her huge grin? Cricket was a bit more mellow, but that’s mostly because she felt like such a big girl to go all by herself without anyone walking with her. She was taking it very seriously and concentrating on being careful.
 
Pony Ride

 
I’ll use just about any excuse to get close to a horse. Even Mr. Monkey enjoyed the ponies!
Pony Ride 2

 My girls love the midway. It’s our last stop, and they look forward to it all day! My Mom loves Carousels and enjoys taking them on a few rides.
 
I thought it was cute that Bunny chose a rabbit!
Bunny on the Carousel

 
This choice didn’t surprise me at all. Cricket, in her constant attempt to convince us to add one to the family, reminds me frequently that her favorite animal is a dog. This is one of my favorite photos from that day.
 
Cricket on the Carousel

 If you’re ever in Fort Worth at the end of January or beginning of February, plan on a day at the Stock Show! As the slogan says, “This Thing is Legendary!!”

Bunny Turns 3!

Our precious Bunny has her third birthday today! When she was born, we never could have guessed what a delightful, hilarious, cuddly girl she would turn out to be! She says adorable things like cupcape, strawbeberry and bellella (umbrella). She is almost the size of her 5-year-old sister, and on track to be almost 6 foot tall. She loves to sit on my lap and cuddle, play with dollies, go to the park, and paint. She is also one of the funniest children I have ever seen!

One of her favorite things is to help me with baking or cooking. This is one of my absolute favorite pictures of her. She was helping me make pizza for dinner, and brought me two bandanas and asked me to make them into a hat and apron.

Bunny makes pizza

Bunny makes pizza

I made her a hat and apron of her own as a birthday present. Since Cricket got one for her birthday in November, this wasn’t a big surprise. Bunny loved choosing the fabric, and it didn’t bother her at all that it wasn’t a surprise! The apron is reversible, so the other side has cupcakes with a pink pocket.
 
Bunny's Birthday Hat and Apron

Bunny's Birthday Hat and Apron

 
She is a big fan of Thomas the Tank Engine, and Percy is her favorite. I usually do a frozen buttercream transfer, but didn’t have enough time for that this time, so I just drew freehand. The trains are pretty geometric, so it wasn’t all that hard. It ended up being a good thing that I didn’t stay up late to work on it, since she changed her mind about what she wanted on the cake between going to bed and getting up in the morning. Why can I draw better with a piping bag than I can with a writing utensil of any kind? I managed to do this in the midst of other birthday preparations with three munchkins, so I’m happy with it even though there are things I’d like to have done better.
 
Percy cake

Percy cake

As you can see, Bunny liked it, too!
 
Posing with cake
 
She loved blowing out her own candles!
 
Blowing out Candles
 
It was a great evening! My sister and brother-in-law were both off of work, so they came over with their daughter for a homemade pizza dinner, then presents, cake, and ice cream. (As an aside, if your daughter begs for a pink cake, but the store is out of strawberry cake mix, you can make a white cake and add food coloring. It works beautifully! However, no amount of reminding yourself will keep you from being surprised when you bite into it and it doesn’t taste like the strawberry you were expecting!)
 
My brother-in-law started by asking her “How old are you, 10? 12?” To which the ever-wise Bunny said “YEAH!” For the rest of the night, all of the careful practicing we’d done was out the window as she told everyone she was twelve while holding up her three chubby little fingers.
 
Happy, Happy Birthday to my darling Bunny! I’m so glad that you were born, and incredibly thankful to be your Mama!
 
Bunny in a Birthday Bag
 

January Recap

The beginning of January found us back in Kansas, visiting with friends and family there and baptizing our sweet little Monkey-man! We had a wonderful time seeing some of the people who are dearest to us in the whole world, and introducing them to our son. It was so hard to only have a few short days to catch up, especially not knowing when we’ll be back. It’s a tough thing to live in one place when your heart is spending time in two. The highlight of the trip was our son’s baptism! This photo is from just before church that morning. Doesn’t he look so serious here, like he’s contemplating the meaning of it all?

Baptism romper
Monkey man in his baptism romper just before church. I embroidered a triquetra on the shoulder.

Pulling into Wichita the first evening, our van started smoking. We had just spent thousands of dollars fixing some issues for the trip, so that was a quite-less-than-happy moment. A friend of a friend came to look at it, diagnosed it as something that we could fix once we got home, and we were able to travel without further incident. However, it couldn’t have been just what he thought, because a couple of days after we got home, it would no longer start. *sigh* Starting the New Year with car trouble is not a pleasant thing.

 
Just a week later, my husband had a couple of middle of the night trips to the ER for extreme pain. After a few days of trying to figure things out, he had his gallbladder removed in emergency laparoscopic surgery. (Cholecystectomy is a really cool word, by the way.)  Also not my ideal way to start a New Year! No pics from that time, except for one the doc gave me from inside during the surgery, and I’ll spare you that one even if I think it is super cool! He’s still having some issues from all of this, and his physically demanding job makes it all worse, so I appreciate your prayers for him.
 
All of this really upset our schedule, and our girls have had a very hard time adjusting. They haven’t slept through the night since coming back from our trip. I think it’s really odd that the only one in our family who is regularly sleeping through the night isn’t even 4 months old yet!  What comes after exhausted? I’m not sure what the word is, but we are totally there.  Of course, small children’s behavior is also deeply affected by a major lack of sleep, so things are a bit chaotic here. I’m trying to pull it all back in line, but it is hard to be my best version of Mama when it takes so much effort just to keep my eyes open. I pray every day that I will be faithful in my duties, wise in my decisions, and loving in my words and actions.
 
We went to the Stock Show twice, which is always a super fun thing. There will be a couple of posts about that with LOTS of pictures. It was a good chance for us to get out of the house so that my husband could rest, and we all had a good time! Also celebrated my dear sister’s birthday. My Mom went to the Stock Show the day that my sister was born, and has always referred to her as her “Stock Show Baby,” so it’s an especially fun thing to do together. I love being close enough to family to do things like birthdays together! I never thought that would happen.
 
The end of January, I made an attempt to get back into our schedule, including school. It wasn’t very successful, but we squeezed a few school days in. Oh – and I started this blog! Because what I really need is one more way to spend my time.
 
Oh, sorry. I broke into a bit of maniacal laughter just then. I’m back now.
 
I like to consider myself an optimistic realist. I try to look at the bright side, but not in a completely unrealistic way. This was an incredibly hard month. One of the hardest I’ve ever had. The way I look at it, we’ve gotten the worst of the year out of the way up front, and the rest should be really good to balance it out. Tell me I’m right, okay? Lie if you have to!