Friday, January 16, 2015

2014 Gingerbread Challenge

This year for our group gingerbread challenge, we decided to make an entire gingerbread village. We each got to decorate our own cottages. Then the plan was to create a village square together. So here's my cottage.

The story, you ask? Well on Veteran's Day last November, Dale and I were finishing up our breakfast at the local diner when we got a phone call. From the police. (Yike!) Saying that a tree had just fallen through our roof. (Yikes!!) We got home to find the fire department waiting for us and, indeed, the top 20+ feet of a huge pine tree in our yard had snapped off and bulleted through our roof. I pretty much felt like this:

But when push comes to shove, what can you do but laugh at the foibles of life, and fix things up. So making a gingerbread cottage with a tree about to come down on the roof was one way of finding humor in the situation. The front of the house does look festive, doesn't it? I particularly like the little ribbon bow on the wreath.

The back

and sides were fairly plain. Just some gumdrop bushes and crystal-yellow sugar to light the windows. Not a single heart to be found!

Unfortunately, we only had one day together to work on our gingerbread village, so I was unable to get any more landscaping done. We had some grand plans to tie our cottages together with a Smarties cobblestone path. In the center of the village square we were going to have a giant tree. Then we planned to have some elves holding hand while encircling the tree.


click for a larger image

It looked really good in my mind! But with all the stress of getting our home put back together after the tree incident, I was too pooped to make the rest of my vision come to life. Besides, it's not nearly as much fun to work on the village when the rest of our artists are not with me.

Next year we plan to make a gingerbread train. Let's hope we don't have quite so much excitement before Gingerbread Day.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Holiday Wreath

Though we never managed to post the official December Challenge, it was to make a wreath. This is one of the two wreaths Jodie and I made over her winter break. 


On the night before Christmas ...

Jodie and I wanted to take a little something to the family gathering. We made some Chex Mix (no bagel chips and we use Pretzel Goldfish) and put it in a cute container (from the dollar store)

and some Five Minute Fudge (all milk chocolate and extra walnuts in our version), then decorated a gold plate (from the dollar store) with the edibles.

We added an LED color-changing candle (from the dollar store) to the center of the fudge.

Grabbed the glue dots 

and applied four little bits to the candle rim.

Then snugged the cute container of Chex Mix onto the candle.

But it looked a little plain and a whole lot out of balance - the shape of a lighthouse!

So we cut some small poinsettia silk flowers (also from the dollar store)

and tucked them into the sides and top of the fudge wreath. Then turned on the candle.

Ahh! Pretty!

Thanks to Jodie for taking all the photos.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Pick a Size, Any Size

"Shrink Plastic Challenge - Part 2"

Back in June 2014, we had a group Shrink Art Challenge. At the time, I managed to get as far as making a ruler out of opaque shrink plastic. While Jodie was home for winter break, we sat down to complete our Shrink Art Challenge. She'll be posting her cute finished project here soon. My "real" project has a lot of steps, so it will be a while before it's done.

In the mean time, I decided to make rulers out of the clear and white shrink plastic. Each type of plastic has a different rate of shrinkage, even when baked at the same temperature and at the same time. So I took the time to make these rulers so that I could have an accurate measure for future shrinking projects.

I used Sharpies as my color fill. Having an example of how each color reacts to the different plastics is useful. Each ruler started out in one-inch increments. Holes were punched in the ends to help determine size for future use of jump rings in jewelry.

The hole on the left began as a standard 1/4 inch hole punch. 

The smaller hole on the right began as a 1/8" hole punch.

All this prep is not as much fun as working on actual projects, but it's good to test the materials before beginning. Hope to share my project soon!