Gifts from the sea :: How to turn your kind finds into treasures

If you have children and live near the beach or visit it over the summer, your buckets, no doubt don't ever come home empty. When my children were younger they picked up everything - imperfect, broken shells were flawless in their eyes. How could I tell them otherwise? How could I tell them something was not impeccable because it had holes or broken bits? In art, and in life, beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

Because we live on the shore and spend time in Newport and on the beaches in Maine, we have, perhaps, an overabundance of shells. I wondered, however, what would happen if we painted some of these shells. I am a self-proclaimed spray paint addict. It always amazes me to see how something so ordinary can instantly become extra-ordinary. I don't think we have any unpainted shells left at the moment! 

All you need are some shells - any shape and size will do, some good quality glossy metallic spray paint and some old newspaper. Simply arrange the shells onto the paper and holding the can directly over the shell begin to spray. Younger children will need close supervision. Always use spray paint in a well ventilated area. This is a great project to do on a cloudy day or even under a porch on a drizzly day. 

Notice below how those shells with cracks and holes are given a whole new life and look? And your children were right; they are perfect!

Take this project to another level. Large clam and quahog shells can become pretty soap dishes. Create a lovely gift by placing a pretty bar of soap inside the newly gilded shell and tie with a pretty bow. I decided to turn some oyster shells into salt and pepper servers. 

Shells can be displayed in large glass vases or bowls or simply on their own. Smaller shells can make lovely gift toppers and tree ornaments for the holidays. The possibilities are endless. What would you do with your painted shells?

All photos were taken with an iPhone 4S and are the property of Jessica Gordon Ryan and The Entertaining House. Photos may be reused with proper attribution and a link back to this site.

Have a great day and go get your sprain paint on!

Tie-dye me up! Tie-dye me down!

Nothing says summer more than tie-dye... it reminds me of camp, it reminds me of my youth... the psychedelic colors and circles on the shirts we wore that were carried over from the free-thinking, bra-burning generation that preceded mine. I've fallen in love, again, with tie-dye. It started a couple of years ago when I was looking for a way to salvage some of the children's stained white shirts. We started to tie-dye our old and grungy looking polo shirts. They came out so well that I tie died some of my grungy looking white T-shirts and tanks, giving them new life. Today's tie-dye (at least mine) has a more grown-up touch... Mine is less about the psychedelic colors than about the texture and renewal... How wonderful to give new life to something old and stale... How fun to add whimsy to every day items that can be found anywhere in your home!

We needed a project to keep us busy outside yesterday. It wasn't terribly hot yesterday morning, but the humidity was slowing us down. We were in the mood to be outside but not to be running around. And we started to tie-dye up a storm... we grabbed everything in sight; old shirts, shorts, pillow cases, sheets, napkins... you named it and we grabbed it!

 Alas, my photographs (taken with my iPhone) didn't come out well for some reason, but I will share with you the inspiration that started it all... Images via Pinterest, of course!

Ombre by CapellaKID on etsy

I'm a huge fan of the dip-dye as seen above and below on the pillows. It's also a fun way to add a fun and dramatic twist on clothing if traditional tie dye is not your thing.
Nice bold tie-dye.
My napkins are much more subdued but I love them so! We tie-dyed a white sheet yesterday. I'm thinking it would be a fun and whimsical table cloth... dress it up with some off white china and silver? Yes!

Using RIT dyes

I have an old, white clutch my mother gave me years ago. I used it once, I think... I'm thinking this would be a fun, fun way to give the old clutch a new life!

folded pattern. I'm going to have to try this...

The pattern in the above sheet was created by folding the material into squares. Isn't it marvelous?
Perhaps Rebecca will have some tie-dyed sheets on her bed? Really, I am getting so very carried away here!

DVF bedding

tie dye chair

This chair is sublime... No, don't worry, I'm not going that overboard!

tie dye

Seriously, I want to scream Yes, Yes, Yes!

dip dyeing projects

I believe that it was Martha Stewart who started it all with these dish towels.

Ellery the Ventures dress by the Iconic. I love the navy blue dip die at the bottom.

Love this dress. LOVE it!

Dip-Dyed T-Shirt

I've done this before. Magnificent!

Ombre dip dye diy

Click here for sources and original sites.

Yesterday we worked with oranges and blues... we still have pink RIT dye that we haven't touched yet... Off to find more whites!

via Tumblr

Happy Monday + Stay Cool Chicas!

Remember it's a Magnificent Monday...




all roped up!

Decorating on a budget can be challenging and frustrating. We all want our homes to resemble the ones we oggle over when we pour through such opulent glossies as Architectural Digest, Elle Decor, and House Beautiful, to name a few. I like nice things. I have a certain style - a certain way of decorating. I like clean lines, I like a comfortable, lived-in, inviting feel...I want my home to have a sophisticated and yet fun flair. My home needs to reflect my personality, my family, my passions, my past. My home is, in essence, a three dimensional scrapbook of my life.

Right now I do not have much. Most of what I owned I shared with my ex-husband. He has it all now and save for a few items that I was able to bring with me, I have to start all over... on a very limited budget. And yes, it's so very frustrating to have to start from scratch, but it's also a good thing. I have family antiques and heirlooms that represent my family, my history. I have artwork and photographs to represent my past. I am slowly getting new furnishings and accessories to represent my own personal style. And each project that I create by hand, represents not only my style but my passion. Slowly and piece by piece it will all come together. It will come together because I made it come together. It will have been created by me. Each new piece of furniture, each new cleaning supply, each new frame on the wall... As my home slowly starts to take shape I not only see a work in progress, but I see the results taking shape before my eyes. It's a wonderful thing... I see my world changing, morphing, filled with possibility and all the wonder that new beginnings bring. It's still Springtime - rebirth, new beginning, hope... And that's all I see ahead of me.

I like to decorate my home to reflect the seasons. So as summer approaches, not only do our wardrobes lighten up, but so does our decor. I'm a huge fan of bringing the outdoors inside - I always have been. I've always been inspired by nature and this is reflected in my home. In the summertime I like to accent with driftwood, shells and pretty stones that we find along the shore. I also do a lot with twine. It's so inexpensive and so pretty in a clean and rustic way. Using twine is a perfect way to add some summer detail. Twine is easy to decorate with and I hope you'll be inspired by the following images.

My obsession all started last summer when I decided to repurpose my used Orangina bottles!

repurposed Orangina bottles - recycled to create these fab vases
via The Entertaining House
Originally posted with directions here

rope in a glass

The above is so easy to recreate. The glass bowls and containers are most likely in a cabinet in your home, if not you can find them at the dollar store, Walmart, or some place of that nature. The rope, of all sizes and color, can be found at any hardware store. This look is so simple and yet makes such a statement.

via Lauren 

silver bowls and twine
via Tumblr

Great idea~Wrap light bulbs in twine...what a nice way to recycle burnt out bulbs and they make beautiful pears~I may use yarn~
original source unknown

I love these pears! They were created from used light bulbs! Ingenious, n'est ce pas?

Sisal Shade Titorial
via Sand and Sisal
 I just adore this lampshade!

Twine wrapped pots
via Third Floor Design Studio

What a clever way to dress up flower pots!

Twine balls ($1 dollar tree) + Christmas lights (sitting in your closet) = DIY patio strings!
via craftybutt.blogspot

Inexpensive Christmas tree lights, or as we like to call them,
Fairy lights and twine balls from the dollar store...
make your own twine balls!

Made using balloons and twine and light garland~

Splash of Something has a fabulous tutorial!

[Twine jar[4].png]
via Pinterest, original source unknown

 Twine-wrapped mason jars make for lovely little vases!

twine baskets

I love the idea of roping up your tableware!

Love this!
via Elizabeth Ann Designs

wrapped flatware
via A Fabby Fete

So, Annie, I think it's time to get your glue gun!
I'd love to know what ideas not pictured you have to share with me!



You and me beside the sea...

it's Friday... it's nearly here... just around the corner... next weekend marks the official beginning... but I'm going to celebrate now... SUMMER! We're going to have a spectacular weekend here in Connecticut. After soccer games and swimming lessons I'm taking my crew to the beach!

I'll start my day today with a brisk walk along the water with a good friend. We'll get some exercise, fresh air and catch up... I'm contemplating the beach chair... some note books, pens, iPad and a book I have to review... Wondering if I'll really be able to get some work done... but really wanting to try!

via Tumblr

I still love to play in the sand with my boys... I'm a great big kid at heart!
My daughter, 13, is now way too cool and sophisticated for such childish play :)

Steps to the beach.
via Tumblr

My heart always skips a beat when I come to the steps that approach the beach...
 it just knows what lies beyond!

via Everyday Health

Even though I am lucky enough to have several wonderful beaches in my back yard, 
I always feel like I'm away... on vacation!

original source unknown

Every year the kids and I place a note in a bottle... we have yet to ever hear back from anyone!

Gift From the Sea.

Catching up on beach reading is a must..
My magazines come home windblown and covered in sea salt and sand.
This book is one of my favorites. And no better place to read this life affirming book than at the beach!

sea glass in a frame!
image via Creative in Chicago

The beach always inspires us to get crafty. I simply adore this framed  art of collected beach glass...
this is a great family-friendly project!

via Tumblr
We simply adore picnics on the beach! We love to have all of our meals at the beach... breakfast in the early morning sun, lunch under the midday sun or dinner as the sun sets!

running on the beach!
via Country Living
Get up and move!
Go running or for a long walk with the kids!
Bring the towels... bring the buckets. You have no idea what might inspire you!

flip flops given to guests at a wedding on the beach!  Great idea!
via David Tutera
Old Navy flips flops are a must and I have several pairs. I prefer the all white ones. I have a couple of pairs in my closet, one in my car and one on my feet! They wash well in the washing machine... and then when they've been worn enough I toss them out and grab another pair!

via Pinterest original source unknown
We love to make a splash!

soak up the sun.
via Piccsy

 and no matter where you are this weekend, we are all due for exceptional weather, take a moment to put your face in the sun and feel her warm rays!

It's hard not to get overwhelmed by family activities and commitments, but make a promise with yourself that you'll slow down and take notice of all the wonderful things around you!

If by the end of the weekend your home is filled with sand and grass, you know it's been a success!



my trail of inspiration...

I have this large black frame that I salvaged from a dumpster death nearly 17 years ago in Greenwich, Connecticut. (I got it before it went to the dumpster as opposed to actually diving into the dumpster for it!) It's been in several of my homes. In one home she showcased a Van Gogh poster of sunflowers. In my last home she sat in the basement collecting cobwebs and dust. I dusted and polished her off and now here she sits against the wall. As you can see she's quite generous in stature. I've been thinking of having the children collaborate on a project. I'd like nothing more than to have have something created by my children together in my new home next to my work space. My children range in ages from 13 to 6.5 and their talents and abilities are equally as varied. So, I really need to come up with an idea that is suitable to all levels and abilities.

in advance... pardon the mess in the photo below!

And then it struck me. It was my "AHA!" moment, if you will.

I had been perusing LuLu de Kwiatkowski's blog, A Trail of Inspiration, that I somehow stumbled across a few months ago. LuLu is LuLu DK, the fabulous creator of the line of fabrics bearing her name. I found her fabrics a few years ago, the younger sister of a classmate who was a good friend in elementary school. I remembered her, adorable, with her blonde pony tails. And here she was gorgeous, grown up, fabulously talented and now fabulously famous. I still saw the adorable little girl with the blonde pony tails.

If you are not familiar with her products, you should be... If you are not familiar with her blog, you should be!

I came across this magnificent entry. Talented decorator, party planner and host, Eddie Ross, had used Lulu's fabric as a table cloth to create a wonderful table setting for a luncheon.

Pinned Image
image via Trail of Inspiration, Lulu DK

image via Trail of Inspiration, Lulu DK

Isn't that fabric fantastic? It reminds me of the ocean... it reminds me of sea glass and it reminds me of Henri Matisse, famous for his bright colors and collage. And it reminded me of a project that Alexander did when he was no more than 3 years old...

collage, crafting with children, The Entertaining House

Surely we could recreate this to fit a much larger sheet of paper using torn bits of colorful paper!

And so this is what we'll do!
Thank you Lulu for the wonderful idea... and for inspiring!

I'll be sure to show you the final project!
Meanwhile, please check out Lulu's fabulous video for more inspiration!



You may think I have completely lost my marbles...

and that may be the case... but painting with them sure was fun!

We are on Spring break for 2 (verrrrrrrrrrrrrry long) weeks and I need to keep the kids busy and entertained. The snow made for a perfect excuse to lounge around in the morning in our PJs. (Well the kids did. Rebecca babysat while I went to the gym!) We watched Percy Jackson's The Lightning Thief and lunched on popcorn and rice crispy treats!

After the movie I sent the kids up to get dressed and brush their teeth. We started a 500 piece puzzle but didn't get very far. We made Flubber and I will post that tomorrow. So much fun! Then the kids were hungry again... What's new?! This time I insisted on clementines, strawberries, and veggies and dip. In between loads of laundry, emptying the dishwasher (does anyone loathe this as much as I do?!) and other generally boring and tedious household chores we decided to give marble painting a try.

We love to paint unconventionally around here. This was a blast and we were so pleased with the results! Even better was the fact that the mess was kept to a minimum!

Start by placing two marbles in paint... tilt to start to roll!

Alexander's final product!

My final product!
I found this project to be mesmerizing!

Rebecca decides she needs a little bit more color

Rebecca's finished product!


Assorted washable tempera paints
2 marbles (though feel free to add more!)
White paper (we used copier paper)
Pencil and scissors, used to cut paper
Springform pan, or a large bowl with deep sides
Damp paper towels for wiping dirty little fingers!
2 (or more) small dishes in which to squeeze a dollop of paint.

Place your marbles in paint and carefully place the paint covered marbles in the center of the paper
Tilt the pan (or bowl) so that the marbles run all over the place.
If you need more paint place the marbles back in the paint and back onto the paper.
Repeat as often as desired
When painting is finished simply remove paper from Springform and place on a flat surface to dry.
Star over as many times as desired!

Food Art

Image, courtesy Martha Stewart

I came across these delightful cards created by none other than Martha Stewart, of course. These seem to be a more grown up version of potato or apple prints. I love the natural pattern that appears here. Now, there is no need to purchase a radicchio solely for the art of stamping, perhaps cut off the heart of some Romaine lettuce or even the base of a celery stalk. Of course, if you must, the radicchio looks lovely.

We have plenty of snow ahead in our forecast. And while Phil might not have seen his shadow yesterday, there are still going to be many days ahead where the kids are going to be couped up and bored. I think they will try and enjoy this project next time they are stuck at home with me!

Image, Martha Stewart

Get Crafty on this Magnificent Monday

I know most of you loathe Mondays. Mondays are a drag. The workweek must start anew, the weekend is over and the crazy rat-race rush is upon us again. I love Mondays. I really do. I view them as mini Springtimes with glorious chances to start a new... wonderful chances to accomplish something new... Perhaps you should look at Mondays as I do. It's all about attitude, after all.

Luckily for those of you who disagree with me about the first day in the workweek this happens to be a short one. You are in for your lucky break.

But regardless what your thoughts are on Mondays I want you to try something new. It's crafty and creative and perfect prep for your holidays.

Aren't these ornaments created by design genius Eddie Ross clever and fun and completely fabulous?! Do you know what they are made from? Recycled flannel shirts! I love them so. They are festive and casual and a bit rustic and I can picture them in my family room on a coffee table beside the fire!

Simply cut bits of old fabric into strips and paste them, with a glue like Mod Podge, onto a cardboard ornament ball. I love that this project involves some recycling as I love turning old into new. To really get into the holiday season pour yourself a glass of something lovely... some eggnog, mulled wine, even a cup of your favorite tea. Put on the carols and invite the kids to join you!

Happy Monday to you! XOXO

Decorating for the change of Seasons, Organically

When the seasons changed my great grandmother promptly got her house ready. She had summer drapes and winter drapes. Summer bedding and winter bedding. Each room underwent a seasonal makeover of sorts. While I would love to swap my linen for velvet, pastels for burgundies and swap out my bone china for heartier, earthier tones I cannot do this. I have neither the funds nor the desire or inclination to do all this work! Your home can transition seamlessly from summer to fall by using a few simple items collected from the garden, backyard or orchard!

I'm a huge fan of bringing the outdoors in. I am a huge fan of decorating with nature and using items that can be recycled. I adore decorating with fruit. I love the bright and vibrant colors and I especially love the fact that, unlike freshly cut flowers, fruit can be eaten and enjoyed. When it starts to wilt it can get recycled into pancakes or muffins or breads or even as an oven-top potpourri. Fruit is inexpensive to decorate with and can be as aromatic as freshly cut flowers.

It is apple and pear picking season here in New England. Most of us pick much more than we can consume. Of course we can bake them, but why hide their beauty. The fall fruits have such wonderful colors -- warm reds, yellows and greens. These fruits should be displayed... and then enjoyed!

Some ideas ...
Nothing could be more simple than placing some apples in a bowl or arranging them on a large platter... or floating them in water. Don't limit them to your kitchen. Display your season fruit bouquets proudly in dining rooms as center pieces, living rooms, family rooms and bedrooms. Really, fresh fruit can be placed anywhere you would place a vase of fresh flowers.

Nothing says cozy and warmth and romance and autumn like these apples that have been turned into luminaries. Again, place these in any room of the house. The same can be done with certain gourds and mini pumpkins. Place a couple in a bathroom when company is expected, or line your walkway with them to light up the path at night. Is your mantel to bare? Too boring? Place these apple luminaries on your mantel for a simple, elegant and festive look. Perhaps red does not go with your decor. Don't be afraid to use red, yellow or orangy apples.

I have always adored these golden pears by Martha Stewart. Lightly brushed with gold powder, these ordinary pears receive a festive sheen perfect for any elegant holiday dinner party.

Look no further than your backyard for inspiration. A vase filled with acorns is so simple and yet so exquisite.

Add some acorns and nuts to a hurricane vase with a white pillar candle and you have something simple, stunning, autumnal, affordable and eco-friendly!

A simple boxwood wreath, a few nuts and a candle. Simple, elegant, festive and pure genius!

I simply adore pine cones. Though usually associated with Christmas and the colder months, simple brown pine cones, of all shapes and sizes look smashing in these apothecary jars... or arrange them casually in a nice off-white serving bowl.

String a few together and you have a festive garland that can last you throughout the holiday season. Simply change the color of the ribbon... start with an orange ribbon for fall and Thanksgiving and swap it out for a red or green one for Christmas.

We love to paint our pine cones. Mix the pine cones on a large platter with acorns and apples, real or plastic for a smashing centerpiece. Some of the pine cones are silver, others are gold, and others are white. The acorns were give a once-over in gold paint as were the plastic apples. I tossed in a few extra ornaments that were lying around with nothing else to do for the final touch. No need to toss the items when the season is over. They will all store nicely in a box or plastic bag.

Image, courtesy Martha Stewart

Perhaps you live in the South where pine cones and acorns are hard to come by. No worries, for this clever idea you have to look no further than your pantry for bags of dried beans and lentils to dress your pillar candles and pumpkins. For this you will need some wide double-stick adhesive tape and an assortment of mixed beans. Carefully roll the candles and pumpkins into the beans. You will need to fill in the holes by hand.
The same can be done with coffee beans, as seen below.

Coffee and candles make a lovely pairing as well!

If you like these ideas, be sure to visit my post on Cranberries. One of my absolute favorite and versatile seasonal fruits ever!

Getting your home ready for the holidays need not cost much and can be done in such a manner than we can all reap the beauty from our backyards!

A perfect Memory Jar

Every year we go to Maine we collect shells and rocks and beach glass along the shore. Some years we get super lucky and find a starfish or a sand dollar. This was one of those summers. Sand Dollars were in abundance and Rebecca found 4 and I found 1. The day we left Rebecca asked if I could get some sand as a souvenir before we left, so I got a Tupperware container and filled it with the wonderful Ocean Park sand.

I used to put all of Rebecca's findings in glass jars. She would display them proudly on her dresser. On the top of each jar I noted the year. I don't know where those jars disappeared to -- they must have gotten lost in the move a couple of years ago.

I decided that Rebecca would like something similar this year. I also decided to "dress it up" a bit. What resulted was our perfect Memory Jar!

I painted our shell white and using a glue gun attached the ribbon to the back... This will be our signage.

I recycled an old pickle jar (Clasusen's Sours if you must know!)
and glue-gunned (is that a verb?) a swatch of fabric to the lid...
This does cause the lid to not close firmly,
so I applied more of the hot glue to the rim of the glass jar to secure the lid well into place.

Next I filled the jar with out treasures... sand, shells, rocks, beach glass and 2 of Rebecca's Sand Dollars.

Once the treasures were safely inside the jar and the lid glued on tight, I tied the shell on as well, onto which I wrote "OPME" which stands for Ocean Park, Maine and the year.

Rebecca loves it!

Color Me Pretty... True Prep

There is nothing like opening a new package of crayons. The smell, the color, the feel of them in my hands gets me every time. The bigger the box the better! My kids still all love to color with crayons. As do I. But every now and then, they break or get lost only to be found later and in not the best of shape. After a while the kids lose interest in the dull, flattened tips. We need crayons. Perhaps we will get some tomorrow. In the meantime I found a great project to keep the kids busy and recycle the ones we already have.

Yes, I know everyone has baked broken crayons at some point in their lives. I've always wanted to but I haven't ever done so... until yesterday. Rebecca was at a friend's house and so I gathered the boys to help me peel the paper of the little waxy sticks and break the ones that were not broken. This was harder and more time consuming than I expected, but the boys enjoyed it thoroughly.

We placed the broken bits into this flower shaped silicone mini cupcake tin... which isn't really tin... but I didn't know what else to call it! We placed the crayons on top of a metal cookie sheet that was covered with aluminum foil so as not to chance ruining the cookie sheet. The broken crayon bits were placed in a 350 degree oven for about 12 minutes.

After the 12 minutes the wax had completely melted and the crayons took on their new shapes. I removed the hot wax from the oven and placed the crayons in the freezer for about 15 minutes to cool and harden.

When sufficiently hard, I just placed the sheet upside-down and gently popped the wax shapes out!

Aren't these adorable? They would make a lovely project and goody for a little girl's flower themed party!

Alexander dressed himself this morning. I came downstairs to find him playing ever so nicely by himself in the family room with the Alexander Calder stabiles he and his brother made in preschool.

Is he not the fitting image of a True Prep?

From Trash to Treasure, Weapon to Wand(erful): Fun for Your Littlest Fairy!

Alexander likes sticks and guns and weapons and pretend shooting. And as much I hate it he's being a boy. He doesn't play inappropriately and he doesn't hurt anyone. (Well, he hasn't yet!) Little boys will be little boys and we need to let them play and act out their imaginations. I have no problem with this. Nor do I have any problem with the rocks and sticks and pine cones and other goodies he picks up outside. For the most part. The other day he picked up a stick, an ordinary stick and began to play with it. He was not being rough or violent but he kept waving it around. I thought he was going to scratch someone. Or worse, damage the new paint job on my walls! So I confiscated the stick and put it away "someplace safe." Eventually we both forgot about the stick.

Alexander also loves to read. He'll grab books by the handful and drop them into my lap. He loves all types of books. He does not discriminate between the "girl" books and the "boy" books and I love it. Pinkalicious is at the top of his list. He also adores Alice the Fairy by David Shannon (of the David books). The stories are wonderful and the illustrations are perfect for the preschool set. Alice is training to become a Permanent Fairy. If you are not familiar with the story a stop at your local library is a must.

After reading the book, not once but twice, the other day Alexander told me that he needed a wand. I couldn't believe we had no such thing in the house. After all, Rebecca sure had her share of magic wands and crowns when she was little. But there was nary a wand to be found! So we decided we would make our own wand. And it would be the bestest ever.

What would we use? We searched high and low and then I remembered the confiscated stick! Perhaps we could transform it from a weapon of mass destruction in to a magical wand!

So we went about taming our tree limb. I found a pale green, wire ribbon and wrapped it around the stick. Then we found a piece of cardboard that was in the recycling pile and turned it into a star. We found other ribbons that I used to tie around the stick to create streamers. Finally Alexander decorated his star with glitter paints, because all fairies love glitter. Then he pressed some buttons into the wet glitter paint. When everything had dried (We let it sit overnight) I then glued the star on with a hot glue gun. The end result of Alexander's Fairy wand was nothing less than spectacular!

Like Alice, Alexander wanted a bath of strawberry Jell-o. We opted, instead, to use several red colored bath tablets and some fruit scented bubbles. This did not disappoint.

Finally, fairies love to bake. And they love sprinkles. So our Blueberry Sparkle Bread was a perfect treat!

Rorschach in art: Meet Alexander Warhol

Do you see what I see?

Two kissing sea horses?
The bodice of a designer dress?

What do you see?

Rorschach painting, Andy Warhol, 1984

Leave it to Andy Warhol to take the Rorschach test and turn it into a series of paintings. Leave it to Andy to command high prices for these simple, simplistic paintings. Hardly works of art, really. Or were they? Are they?

Analyze this!

In 1984, Warhol created this series specifically so that the paintings could be analyzed. "I was trying to do these to actually read into them and write about them, but I never really had the time to do that. So I was going to hire somebody to read into them, to pretend it was me, so that they'd be a little more . . . interesting."*

A bit bizarre, no?

Well, Rorschach painting is fun and entertaining. Kids of all ages love it. They love to see what a few strategically dots and smears will turn into. Alexander loves to paint, but easily gets frustrated because he can't draw anything decipherable and he tires easily of painting his random abstract object.

This afternoon he wanted to paint. He painted one picture and got bored. I always spend 20 minutes setting the art supplies up, only to have them used for less than 5 minutes. I then remembered the "Butterfly Painting" that Rebecca and I used to do when she was little. We called this "Butterfly Painting" because she always though her creations looked like colorful butterflies.

Artist's Supplies...
Alexander used these today, a Christmas gift from his aunt Jennifer.

Alexander's first painting...
Poodle in a Tutu?

Two Dancing Hens

Do you see what I see?
A Butterfly? Or Bumblebee?

What is it that you see?

The Artist at Work...

Lilly Pulitzer's Mask for the Pink and Green Masquerade Ball?
Wouldn't it be grand?
As Alexander sees it
An Alien Mask!

The next time your kids are bored and you are looking for something to do, grab some paints, grab some brushes, even glitter glue. Make a pattern, or pour it randomly on a piece of paper, white or colored, then gently fold it in half, and gently press down to smooth out the paint, open it up and voila!

What kind of fun will you make today? Will you see what I see?

(When your done your children will naturally be starving after their creations. You'll have to try Rebecca's Fruit Smoothies. They are absolutely divine!)

Matisse Meets Lily Pulitzer

I really have no idea what's gotten into me, and honestly if I didn't know better I would wonder... wonder if maybe my sudden urge to clean and declutter, my sudden insatiable hunger and expanding midsection might indicate the arrival of... but I am 200% certain that the symptoms are just a coincidence! (Thank God... I have two hands which is nowhere near enough to handle my three kids!)

Alexander and I were in the kitchen this morning. He's dying to learn how to read. Before he learns how to read he needs to recognize his letters, upper and lower cases. So we were working on some alphabet activities that I had printed out from Starfall and after about 20 minutes of tracing and coloring As and apples he had had enough. He wanted to do some crafts, with glue. Anything as long as it is with glue. So I thought it would be fun to do a collage. In the spirit and the vein of Matisse. I asked him what colors he wanted as I pulled out the craft papers. "Pink. And pink and white. And green." So I pulled out the colors he requested and he selected the dark pink sheet as his background. Together we went to town tearing bits of paper. As I searched high and low for the glue (I found one empty bottle) making an insane mess as I did, I came across the Mod Podge which is my most favorite crafting glue ever. It works like glue but it adds a shine to the finished product. I found a plastic paint plate and a paint brush and Alexander immediately went to work "painting" the glue on to the paper and sticking the pieces of paper over the paint and painting over the glued-on paper. Alexander was having so much fun I decided to join him and created my own "Matisse." I love the end result. In fact, I am going to frame them and hang them in Rebecca's room.

Whose do you like better?! ;)

When we were done Alexander wanted to paint. So I took out the watercolors and while he painted I cleaned out my art basket -- a huge wicker basket that sits under my desk. I tossed old markers, broken crayons, dried up glue, broken brushes, unfinished masterpieces long ago abandoned by my artistes. I removed all the Play Doh and Play Doh accessories and put them in the office, in an empty cabinet. I tossed out dried out and empty paint containers, unfinished craft products, beads and broken googly eyes. I organized my pens and markers and papers and paintbrushes and all my crafting tools.

Matisse certainly worked in many mediums and had a broad range of styles and phases. But the simplest of all seemed perfect for my 3 year old. I will try more complicated things with the older two, or I may not. There is something beautiful with his simplicity.

It was a productive day indeed... I wonder what tomorrow will bring? Meantime if you want unleash your inner Matisse here are a couple of great kid-friendly sites to visit:

Meet Matisse

Matisse for Kids

In school Alexander is learning about Frida Kahlo and on Wednesday we are going (his preschool class and the 7th grade Spanish class) to have lunch at a Mexican restaurant and talk more about Frida. I will report back about that on Wednesday.

I'm going to sign off and clean out the armoire now!

(For more of my crafty ideas check out the crafts under the Labels section and visit my abandoned site

Nature in Art

My Not So Artisitc One made these wonderful pictures using simply the twigs and sticks from our back yard. His brother and sister were busilly Crafting at the table and he came up with and created these. He randomly placed the sticks on the white paper and painted and glued them to the paper with Mod Podge (the same product I used for the pumpkin luminaries). The only things missing are a couple of frames!

This craft is so super easy and can be done by anyone. These pictures would also make lovely gifts at Christmastime for parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles!
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Fun Halloween Craft for all ages!

I love this craft. It's fun, simple, different and the end result is spectacular. What's best is that children of all ages (2+) will delight in making their own Jack-O-Lantern Luminary.

You can find most of the necessary tools in your home, and if not at your local arts and crafts store, drug store and florist.

You'll need one small and inexpensive floral vase. Check your basements and attics. These are the kinds that Teleflora send their smaller floral bouquets in. You may find that you have dozens of these!

You'll need a large paint brush. I actually prefer the foam variety for this craft.

You'll need some orange tissue paper that you will cut up into squares and some black construction paper cut into three triangles.

Finally you will need some Mod Podge or other craft glue that dries clear and acts as a glue as well as a varnish.


Using your brush paint a section of the vase with your craft glue. Paste the cut out pieces of orange tissue over the glue making sure that there is no clear glass showing through. It is fine for the tissue paper to overlap. It makes a really pretty effect. Paint over all the tissue paper again with the glue. When the vase is covered with tissue paper and glue apply the three black triangles so that they resemble two eyes and a mouth. Paint over those as well. Let dry overnight.

When your luminary is dried you can either place a small tea light in the center or a battery operated votive.

Note: Your fingers will get dirty and glue-y and sticky. This is fine. This is perfect to ensure that every piece of tissue paper is properly covered. Your younger child (2 or 3 year old) may only have the patience to cover half of the vase so you may want to finish it up for him.
Happy Hauntings!

Bubble Juice

Did you know that humid and overcast days will result in the best bubbles?

On Thursday I took Alexander to our local children's museum, The Stepping Stones Museum for Children, (which by the way is phenomenal and if you are ever in Southern Connecticut with young children you should stop by) where they set up an interactive bubble display in the warmer months. Alexander and I had a blast. We got the recipe for their bubble solution and made it at home. We made wonderful bubbles with the oversized wands we purchased from the museum gift shop. But any sized bubble wand will do. In fact, next time I am out and about I am going to pick up a couple of fly swatters. My friend Sarah told me they create hundreds of tiny bubbles! Whodathunk?

Recipe for Bubble Juice
1 Cup of Dawn or Palmolive
4 Tbs. liquid glycerin (found in a bottle at the drugstore)
12 Cups of water
Mix well but slowly so as not to create too many in bubble mixture
Mixture improves with age (like a fine wine!)
Note: I cut the recipe in half and we had plenty for many bubble blowing hours with a good bit left over.