February 25, 2012

pinterest is amazing

...and so is Tatertots & Jello!


Thank you for featuring my Four-Leaf Clover Wreath this morning on your weekend wrap-up party!
____________________

Now back to Pinterest and it's wide reaching capabilities. Not that most of you don't already know that Pinterest is amazing but I thought I'd say it again. It is a wealth of fabulous ideas from men and women across the globe. I checked the stats on what had been pinned from this very blog and was pleasantly surprised! It's also a great way to see what others are saying about your projects and glean some good feedback as to what your readers are enjoying!


What I'm gathering from the pins is that the Blue Sky Confections wreaths have been a big hit as well as porch decor.

I've been blogging off and on for a couple years now and am just now starting to get the hang of social networking from reading others blogging tips and utilizing things like Facebook and Pinterest. I thought I could just share interesting projects and build a good following that way and I have built up a following with that. But if blog readers do not know your blog even exists it can be tough. I have also heard the word "tribe" used twice now on recent blogs posts from Gussy Sews & Oh Amanda. Oh Amanda is also sharing how to use Pinterest. I haven't had a chance to read it yet but I'm sure it's great! This is actually the first I've heard the word tribe. I now know I should be looking for my tribe.

Kudo's to the bloggers who understand all of this and are using it right out of the gate.



Back to what I see is working for me—I think I focus a lot on my porch and door because it's fairly inexpensive to change out seasonally and it's also the first thing someone sees when visiting your home. I also really enjoy plants and flowers and the best place to enjoy them is outdoors.





How about you? What do you tend toward changing up seasonally?



Based on Pinterest feedback what types of posts drive traffic to your blog? What are your readers really responding too? It can be a great tool if you decide to use it. Thank you so very much for pinning projects and ideas from this site. Come follow me on Pinterest!

Thanks for stopping by Blue Sky Confections!

February 23, 2012

Feather Doodles

I've been in love with calligraphy for a while now. I love seeing invitations addressed using the art of calligraphy. I love browsing artists blogs that use calligraphy. I love pinning calligraphy on Pinterest. It's something I would love to master and I've recently started playing with a couple of calligraphy pens with different size nibs. There are a few things I'd like to hand write for my kids bedrooms but trying to get it to flow and finding my style has been a struggle. In this digital day and age that we live in I think it's important to document our handwriting in little ways and in big ways. You should give it a try.

What I'm learning is that I must loosen up. When I'm not so stiff, and I write with more fluidity, the letters turn out much prettier. When I get something that I like and that I believe is suitable for hanging on a wall and/or framing I'll share it here on Blue Sky Confections. Until then here are a few feathers that I scanned from a recent ink to paper trial.

The word "feathers" is a font that I used and was not handwritten.

Thanks for stopping by Blue Sky Confections!

February 22, 2012

Snow Day 2012


Well we finally got some of the fluffy, white stuff this year. I thought it would never come.
It started out as very wet, very large flakes that I didn't think would stick to the ground but it kept coming and eventually it did stick.

My wee ones were enamored and kept wanting to run outdoors despite the cold. My oldest daughter wasn't as impressed she was just hoping for a school cancellation.

When we finally had enough on the ground we went out at night to go sledding.
We had the hill to ourselves which was nice but afterwards I told the handsome hubbster that we should have sent out a FB message inviting our neighbors to join us.

I joined in the fun as well but it's tough to get a picture of yourself while sledding. My oldest decided she wanted to stay home.

We purchased the sleds this past fall in anticipation of a snowy winter and when it seemed we wouldn't get any snow it was a huge disappointment but surprise, surprise! It finally came.

Our oldest joined us the next morning and had a blast!
And yes you can fit three people on one sled.
 All three of my cuties piled on one sled.
My boys.
My girls.
 
Spun around at the bottom.  
A race in progress.... girls vs. boys! 


It's always so cute to see little ones all bundled up and barely able to walk.

Here's my son carrying his sled up the hill which he did repeatedly without complaining.

It's equally as cute to see the older ones make an effort to look their best for sledding.
Note: No hat but a little bow she made for herself out of my leftover ribbon scraps!


Fun, Fun, Fun!

When I was a kid in the U.P. of Michigan snow was a definite each year. My sister, brothers and I would go sledding for hours and the hill that we would go down was much, much larger. We had a wooden toboggan that we could all fit on. We had to make sure to steer clear of fence posts, trees and burr patches and that required team work. Lean to the left! Lean to the right! Those were the days! That's for sure! As we got older we would cross country ski and go snowmobiling. Winter sports in VA are at a minimum. At least where we live. One day we hope to be back up there.

Thanks for stopping by Blue Sky Confections!

February 20, 2012

Make Your Own Crocheted Bangle

With a few basic crochet skills you can make your very own unique bangle bracelet. I taught myself how to crochet using a couple of books, a handy little crochet guide and some helpful youtube.com tutorials. You can too!

Here's another angle of the same bangle. Hey that rhymes!
Because it is a bangle that will jostle around your wrist while wearing it I thought there should be crocheted flowers and leaves all the way around. I used bamboo ewe yarn by Stitch Nation because I thought it would be one of the softest up against the skin all day.

I re-purposed an old door hanger ring. It had little gold bells hanging from it and I put it on our front door at Christmas. Of course the kids seeing that on the door were tempted daily to mess with it until it was in pieces. Yes, in pieces. Do your kids mess with your decorations? I don't want to wish away their youth but I am looking forward to my home decor staying intact. I give it another year or two and they'll be tall enough to attack everything at counter height. Right now doorknobs are just about eye level.

To make your own crocheted cuff—wrap the yarn around the ring making sure to pull it snug. I had to go around twice in order to fill in a few small gaps here and there. Then tie it tightly in a spot you plan to add a flower or leaf. That way all tiny knots are concealed. Once your bangle is fully prepped crochet as many flowers and leaves as you'd like in different sizes to add dimension and variety. When your flowers are ready use a darning needle and attach each piece in different spots to hold them in place for a long time to come.

Do you have anything you can repurpose and use as a bracelet base? If not, I bet you can find a set of plastic bangles at a dollar store.

Sharing this project at Brassy Apple, Skip to my Lou, Craft O Maniac, I Should Be Mopping The Floor & The 36th Avenue.

Thanks for stopping by Blue Sky Confections!

February 17, 2012

Four-Leaf Clover Door Decor

I have found a few four-leaf clovers in my day and upon doing so smiled. They are said to bring good luck.

This wreath is made using clippings from two shrubs in our front yard. If you live in the Mid-Atlantic states February is the month that you should be trimming your rose bushes and other shrubs. Not all shrubs though. You want to stay away from Azaleas and other similar shrubs or you'll be cutting off your spring blooms.

This is what I made with those clippings...

It is said that St. Patrick used the three-leaf clover or the shamrock to teach about the Trinity (the Father, Son and the Holy Spirit) to the Irish people. I love that little piece of history. I also read that each of the four leaves on a four-leaf clover are symbolic for FAITH, HOPE, LOVE and last but not least LUCK. With that said I am quite happy to be hanging this little symbol on my door through Saint Paddy's Day which is Saturday, March 17th.

Do you believe in luck? I believe good things are a combination of hard work, creativity, relationships and prayer. Although it is fun to think that finding a four-leaf clover in the middle of a patch of three-leaf clovers would bring me some kind of good fortune.

If you would like to make a four-leaf clover for your door or anywhere else in your home for that matter this is what you will need:


1. Clippings from Your Shrubs

All of the items listed below can be found in the floral section of your local craft store.
2. Floral Stem Wrap Tape
3. Aluminum Floral Wire (I used 12 gauge)
4. Green 24 GA 1/4 LB. Wire
5. Wide Satin Ribbon (I scored on this and got several rolls that were clearanced out for $1 a piece)
6. Wire Clippers and heavy duty scissors for trimming greenery (not pictured)

Using the 12 gauge, copper colored, aluminum floral wire create your shape being sure to coil and wrap tightly in the center so each part stays attached and doesn't separate once you start attaching the greenery.

Once you've got your wire shaped the way you would like it to be start cutting your greenery into roughly 4" pieces and then remove the bottom leaves from each clipping, bundle 4-5 pieces together and wrap tightly using the floral tape. You will need a LOT of these little bundles. So bundle, bundle, bundle!



Here's where you turn around and take a picture of your wee one's playing with game pieces from a topple game, getting into your spice cabinet and finding a lost candy cane from Christmas to get sugared-up on! Ah yes and in the background you will see hot dogs wrapped in crescent roll dough patiently waiting for the oven to preheat. The lunch of champions! Mmmm.... not so much.


Back to the wreath. Then using the green wire start attaching the bundles. Keep the wire one continuous piece and then layer the bundles, one over the other, while you continue to tightly wrap around the aluminum form.


Plan the direction that the bundles will flow to make sure that the taped ends are always hidden.

And here's the final four-leaf clover...



Thanks for stopping by Blue Sky Confections!

I'm linking this project up to The 36th Avenue. Join the party and share your latest project.
I'm linking this project up to the weekend wrap-up party at Tatertots & Jello. Join me.

February 15, 2012

make your own grow light & seed starting


Science Fair Project
Sunlight versus an Artificial Grow Light
My oldest decided to take on this project for her science class and I also thought it would be neat to document it and feature the progress on my blog.

To do an equal comparison we bought two seed starting kits. They're like mini greenhouses complete with 10 seed starting pellets that expand when water is added. These kits make is so simple for anyone to start their very own garden indoors when the weather is still a bit to cold. Then when it's warm enough your plants have already gotten a head start which means fresh veggies earlier in the growing season. These kits are also the perfect size for a kitchen windowsill or any windowsill for that matter.

1. Read the instructions on both the kit and the seed packets
2. Decide what seeds you want to start indoors (some do better if sown directly outdoors)
3. Add warm water to expand pellets
4. Empty a few seeds into the palm of your hand
5. Carefully add 2-3 seeds to each pellet
6. Cover lightly with surrounding matter
7. Label your kit in some way so you know what you're growing where. Each greenhouse holds the exact same seeds in the exact same order. I used a sharpie marker and masking tape on the outside of the kit.
8. Now cover with the supplied lid and allow them to germinate. The kit states to put them in a warm, bright area but not in direct sunlight. Watering will consist of misting with a spray bottle. I use the same spray bottle that I use when I'm ironing fabric and I need to mist it a bit to get a particularly stubborn wrinkle out. Once the seeds germinate one kit will be put on the windowsill in direct sunlight and the other will be put directly under a grow light.

We planted lavender, basil, cilantro, arugula and spinach. Oh yum!

We hope to be able to determine if natural light or artificial light is better. Now some seeds germinate in 3-7 days and some take 2-3 wks.

On to the second important piece to this project:
We needed a grow light and fast. Looking through catalogs we discovered the kits would cost $45+ and we did not want to spend that for a science fair project. A nice associate at the local home improvement store suggested we talk to the guys in lighting to see if there was an alternative. Mainly because they did not carry grow light kits in the store and we were short on time. What we ended up purchasing was this Sylvania Spot-Grow bulb and a clip-up industrial fixture for around $13 total.

We'll easily be able to clip this fixture to our kitchen cabinets where there is an accessible outlet.

I'm looking forward to seeing the results of this experiment.

I've also got this stack of garden catalogs that I will be leafing through to decide what I'm going to plant in our little, raised bed, garden this coming spring. So many choices.

Thanks for stopping by Blue Sky Confections!

February 14, 2012

Free Valentine Card Printables

Happy Valentine's Day!

If you're last minute with things like I sometimes am then you're in luck. Here's a free printable.
Just print, cut & fold and then add your very own sentiments inside.

You can download a high res pdf and print as many as you'd like here.

There is also an envelope template that will work with these here.

Participating in the Valentine Party here.

Thanks for stopping by Blue Sky Confections!

Jenn K.

February 8, 2012

Baked Goods Instagram Style

I recently added Instagram to my iPad and it seems what I photograph most are baked goods. So I thought I'd share them with you with links to recipes or products.


No 1
The dessert tray we brought to our friends house this weekend for the Super Bowl. I made White Chocolate Cake S'mores Gooey Cake Bars which I spotted on Pinterest. They originated at Picky Palate. These are good but let me warn you they are very, very sweet. So sweet one or two bites will be sufficient. I also dipped some strawberries in Ghirardelli chocolate.

No 2
An Angel Food cake I made for the last Green Bay Packer game of the season. They should have gone to the Super Bowl but had such a bad game that night. Martha Stewart has a wonderful video tutorial on her blog with step by step instructions. The recipe is called Cloud Cake and would be if you make the frosting and everything else but if you make the basic cake you'll have a wonderful Angel Food cake. You can't mess it up and it's one of my favorite cakes. I love the fact that it has very little sugar and flour.

No 3
I think is a new favorite of mine and will become a go-to in my recipe files. Again another Pinterest find and it's called Apple & Cream Cheese dessert. I used granny smith apples that I sauteed in some sugar, flour, cinnamon and butter. I only mixed a 1/4 cup of sugar into the cream cheese. I also baked it at 375° instead of 350°. This dessert is so yummy and also very easy to make. My four year old son was thrilled to be able to stir the cream cheese and sugar mixture and spread the crescent dough in the baking dish.

No 4
This was going to be Chewy Sea Salted Caramel Candies but my new candy thermometer was not rising past 220° and the caramel needed to reach 240° so I guessed by judging the bubbling of the mixture and I guessed wrong. The caramel tastes great but not hardened enough for chewy candies.

No 5
Ghirardelli Chocolate melting in a double boiler. It's the only thing I use for dipping strawberries.  I buy it at Sam's Club when it's available.

No 6
Homemade light wheat bread. I've been making my own bread on a weekly basis for several years now and recently tried this recipe. I like to incorporate 1 Tbls of unsalted melted butter. This recipe came from a blog I like to read because of the beautiful, light and airy photography and vintage French finds.

I'm also making my bread by hand until my Kitchen Aid Mixer is repaired. The gears are stripped and cracked after 6 yrs. of use. I discovered I like making bread by hand because it's easier to tell when the dough is a perfect consistency.

I hope you find a few things from my Instagram list that will make your mouth water.

Thanks for stopping by Blue Sky Confections!

Jenny K.

February 7, 2012

Thank You Cards & Envelope Template

...at your fingertips
Do you ever find yourself in a pinch needing a thank you card and not having one on hand. I do, but not anymore. As long as I have ink in my printer and a couple sheets of paper I can print my own whenever I need to. Yay!

I love the Aqua Chevron and Red Polka-Dot Valentine Printable so much I decided to make some Thank You Cards with a coordinating envelope template and even better yet I'm letting my readers print them for personal use only. Just follow the links below the graphics.

Download a printable pdf of the Aqua Chevron Thank You Cards here.

Download a printable pdf of the Red Polka-Dot Envelope here.

Thanks for stopping by Blue Sky Confections!

Jenny K.

p.s. I've also got these Valentine Note Cards from last year still available. Download here.

February 4, 2012

Free Valentine Front Door Decor Printable

As promised here is the printable if you'd like to create some front door decor similar to
 

You can print and/or download the high resolution pdf file for this free printable here.

Thanks for stopping by Blue Sky Confections!

Jenny K.

February 3, 2012

A Valentine's Wreath

Mr. & Mrs. K are back and just in time for Valentine's Day. They've decided to build a "Love Nest" on my front door complete with a tree swing.




This entire wreath is almost completely constructed with materials I already had. The only thing purchased was Plaster of Paris for the birch log and some red clay for the birds and the miniature heart tags.

The frame is two pieces of black presentation board that I cut in a fun shape. Sandwiched between them is some pliable foam that I saved from a package that had been delivered to us at Christmas. The three pieces are hot glued together and then trimmed in red grosgrain ribbon. It's what I had on hand but it would be fun to trim it out in a pretty patterned ribbon as well or even the turquoise blue.

I sent the handsome hubby out into the woods to find a log that would work with the idea that was brewing in my head. He came home with three 1/4 pieces of log. They were beautiful and mossy but no limbs and not the size I needed. So then I began thinking about alternatives. I remembered working with Plaster of Paris in 5th grade when we had to make volcanoes but I needed a base first. Then I remembered seeing a tutorial a while back on the Martha Stewart show regarding faux logs made from corrugated cardboard. I googled that and two reputable tutorials came up. The Martha tutorial and a tutorial from Design Sponge. Looking at them both they may be from the same source and then featured on Martha. That was that and I knew then how I was going to construct the base.

I used cardboard from a large box that I peeled the top and bottom layer off of leaving only the corrugated part which makes it really easy to fold and roll into the half log shape. I also rolled some smaller pieces that I attached to the base to make them look like tree limbs. Holding the cardboard in it's shape is some electrical tape. The limbs are attached with hot glue and straight pins and then some electrical tape at the base of each limb. Once the form was established I mixed up the Plaster of Paris working quick like the instructions on the box recommend. I found an old ratty paint brush to brush the substance on with and it was PERFECT. It actually gave texture to the plaster that I don't believe I would have gotten otherwise. The rolled cardboard mimics tree rings and I think it's pretty fabulous. I'm thinking the sky is the limit with this stuff. As long as you have a good base.

To make the nest itself I coiled jute twine and tied it in various places then hot glued some moss and a few twigs in place and then added a couple strands of bakers twine. After all birdies do you use bits of string and yarn in nest building.

The pennants and the pinwheel are all hand cut from a couple graphic patterns I created in Illustrator and then printed out. I strung the pennants using bakers twine. I have a tiny hole punch just big enough to send a sewing needled through which made for easy stringing.

The birds are shaped out of red clay which by the way can be a great stress reliever. For a couple added details I used miniature, heart, cookie cutters which I painted the house numbers onto and with additional clay made a couple beads and some mini birds that I strung from bakers twine. The swing is a piece of barn wood that had cracked when my husband was making my oldest daughters headboard.

It's amazing what you can make with an old cardboard box and some printer paper and a few other found items in nature and the basement + Plaster of Paris & Clay.

Linking up to TT&J , A Girl Creative and The 36th Avenue.

Thanks for stopping by Blue Sky Confections!

Jenny K.

p.s. I'll post the printables that I used for this project tomorrow just in case you want to make one of your very own.
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