Sunday, December 7, 2014

A Unicorn Christmas Tree: They Don't Believe In You Either

Sometimes when my husband asks for "disturbing" unicorn masks to be gotten rid of, what I *really* hear him asking is "Can this be the centerpiece of our Christmas celebration?"

And the answer is yes. Yes it can.

Behold the MAGIC of the season. My attempt at a traditional Christmas tree, keeping to a more neutral palette. I think it's a success.

Disclaimer: it's not really a unicorn. It's a horse with a sword on it's head to guard my hopes and dreams. Something so majestic will ALWAYS be welcome in our home.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

a {chalkboard} thankful tree

Maybe it's because visual reminders of our blessings make me happy.

Maybe it's because my dream job is to run a preschool...without the teaching and dealing with toddler part.

Or maybe it's just withdrawals, as it's now holiday time and there's no store to decorate.

Whatever the case, 'tis the season.

 It truly doesn't get much easier than this.

Gather up some fall leaf colored construction paper.

If you live in Texas you'll have to choose those colors from memory, as the trees here STILL HAVEN'T CHANGED.

We did a "leaf template" image search, picked out a shape we liked, then put the piece of paper directly over the laptop screen and traced the image to make the pattern. One must eliminate walking 30 feet to connect the printer - crafting will not tolerate such interruptions.

Trace that pattern piece a bunch o' times on your colored paper.

Stacking several sheets of paper on top of each other to cut all at once will make this go way faster. So will having a smaller family, thereby needing less leaves.
If you have some sort of electronic cutting device, here is where you can get all show off-y and make it go really quick.

Since everything up to this point was so simple, we had to add a bit of flair. I folded the leaves in half to give them a spine, and then curled the edges with scissors (sorta like you would curling ribbon) because I'm a foodie and like my leaves to have a little flavor.

Happy Thanksgiving.

Monday, November 17, 2014


Things currently swirling around in my head as I turn one year older:

1. I used to think that older folks "forgot" how old they were because they were either embarrassed or in denial. And then this year happened, where I couldn't remember how old I am without doing the math, and subsequently have been telling people "38" for at least 6 months. Which tells you that math wasn't my best subject.

2. I've never been into watercolors (too delicate), but this "watercolor" wrapping paper is rocking my world.

from here - although if you paid that much for paper, how could you ever actually use it?

3. Cherry Limeade from Sonic used to be my favorite, but then I tried the Strawberry. Now I can't switch back.

4. Sierra was horrified last week when she realized that all "her" car dance moves look just like mine.

5. She also laughed remembering driving around with my sister back on our California trip and how she saw her do the EXACT SAME MOTIONS AT THE EXACT SAME PLACE in a song that came on the radio. "It's like you and Aunt Liz are the same person." Can't fight nature (nurture?)

6. My youngest sits down at the back desk to do his homework every day. A few days ago I went to get an envelope from the drawer and saw this:

Instead of a tissue, just wipe your boogers on furniture. As one does.

7. He was sent to clean up the mess, and after coming in and proclaiming that the green scrubby sponge wouldn't budge the fossilized snot, he took a (steak) knife to help loosen things up. "You'll have to fix the kinda left a mark."

8. Please tell me when this "bootie" fad will go away. You know those shoes that are half boots/half stupid? I didn't like them in the 80's, I don't like them now. They are dumb. Please stop taking photos of them and clogging up instagram. Also, enough with the scarves already. They are and always will be something that your preppy sister (love you, Khristie!) and mother wore in 1991.

{cruise photo where I made my mom so happy by not wearing black lipstick, if only for an evening}

9. Speaking of fashion and instagram, I hereby confess that I unfollowed someone this week after she captioned a photo of her wearing colored pants, saying something about needing to donate them because they aren't in style anymore. Is this actually a thing? You buy something because everyone is wearing it, and then a year later you can't wear it anymore? I cannot subscribe to such nonsense.

10. 98% of the time I come home empty handed after attempting to buy clothes because I can't find anything that I like. Roger calls it picky, I call it CLASSIC. Get what you like and it'll work forever.

(which prolly just means it was never in style in the first place. Make me care.)

My sisters wedding in 2003. First of all, only four babies! Second of all, that 11 year old skirt gets worn to work all the time.

11. All this "can you believe how ugly the people's clothes are nowadays" ranting confirms that I am making the transition into an old, crummudgeny woman quite seemlessly.

12. Cold weather has officially arrived, marking the end of the annual Summer Slump. Imagine how validating it was to read this study and discover that I'm not alone. Yes, there is such a thing as reverse SAD. Maybe it comes from growing up in Fresno, one of the sunniest places on the planet?

13. Although I hate all things scary, gory, and gross, Halloween is my jam. It's one of the only times of year you can dress up and it not be frowned upon as childish. At least out loud. When I am an old woman, I will have a whole closet devoted to a menagerie of wigs. The style for the day will depend on my mood and it will be SO FUN. And yes, that jet black bob from that cruise photo above will be one of them. Until then, there is always October 31st.

Unicorn + jersey = Fantasy Football

14.  Nobody else in my office dressed up.

15. I don't drink, but am dying over these wine bottle Ugly Christmas Sweater "outfits" at World Market.

They have a flapper and zoot suit version too. How could you ever choose??

And birthday request of you. An informal poll, if you will.

It has come to my attention that not all girls take the same amount of time to get ready for the day (Allison).

Turns out I was delusional in thinking that my 28 minute rolling-out-of-bed to rolling-out-of-the-driveway morning schedule was more or less average, but come to find out that's quick? Or maybe it just depends on who you're asking. So I am. Asking, that is. It's little tidbits of information like this about people that fascinate me. Indulge me and give me a peek into your life. Taking a shower, blow drying your hair, putting makeup on - the whole shebang. How long does it take?

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Folded Paper Flower Gift Topper

Wrapping season is coming. Plus it feels like eons since we got crafty up in here.

I was fooling around making those flowers from a hundred years ago and accidentally got obsessed.

 Reasons these flowers rock:

1. They aren't technically origami, because that crap is hard. Yes you're folding, but it's SO simple.

2. If you're gift wrapping packages to ship cross country, these can be smashed flat and still come out of the box looking like Beyonce.

3. Although my default setting is pressie beautification, you could certainly use these in one trillion other ways. Scrapbooks. Cards. Glue a pinback on it and dress up a cardi. Stick a group of them on a wall in a little girls room. That's only 4 other ways, but get the idea. NO LIMITS.



{It's not the end of the world if you do, but just creasing the bottom half will give you the middle reference line you need, while keeping the top of the petal smooth. I'm not a perfectionist in any sense of the word, but there's no reason to make things more crumpled than they need to be.}

 If you want to mix things up a bit, you can alternate which side of the paper is the "main" pattern of the petal. Switched up it's still flowery, but sorta patchwork quilt-y like too.


 * 2 inch circles seem to be the easiest to work with, but play around.
Itty bitty ones would be adorable.

* The pattern facing DOWN when you start folding is what you will see the most of. 
The side you want as your accent should be the side that's facing UP before you make any folds.

* Using a lot of glue stick (so it doesn't dry quickly) or liquid school glue is best.
EVERY SINGLE FLOWER I've made needs some serious adjusting when you go to fill those last four petals in. They'll be gaps or overhang and you'll need something that will let you scoot pieces around. Hot glue will NOT let you do this.

* Keeping those first 4 petal's flaps on TOP of those last 4 petal's flaps below will give you a more cohesive pattern and keep things less jumbled.

What else? Oh yeah.

If you don't have double sided paper, cardstock or construction paper is just as effective.

Or you can glue two pieces of patterned paper together. Or use book pages. Or better yet, something from the recycle bin. Nothing can stop you.

Look. That one doesn't even have a middle and it's still charming. I was weary of how a busy image would look once it's been folded up, but these ended up being some of my favorites.

I traced some 3 1/2" circles to make a huge monster one, and although it's pretty sweet, if you mind that thigh gap in between "petals", be warned. The bigger you go, the more obvious the space.

It's pretty much a given that the general non-crafting population will never even notice.

This is the very first one. The guinea pig. Scrapbook paper circa 2004. That top petal is a bit wonky, and this was before I figured out the four opposite flaps on top/other four below trick. Again, it's not the end of the world if you don't want to bother with the detail part. Still turns out perfectly respectable.

Another up/down alternating pattern.

Now go forth and fold.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

happy things

* While the daytime highs are still in the strong 80's here in Texas, at night it's beginning to dip down into the 60's. I keep seeing beautiful fall photos everywhere ( Elizabeth), and although there are no color changes here quite yet, we *can* open the windows without sweltering.

After months of being cooped up in air conditioning, that feeling of fresh air whisking through the house is heavenly.

Jack Black/Juan Pablo reflecting on his life choices

* This sweet email made my day. Liked the words, LOVED the photo.

{I took liberty to add the spooky black and white filter because one cannot resist such things}

"Your zebramingo inspired me to make a couple skellamingos!  You MUST blog more often!!!!  It's a highlight in my sad little life!

~ Sharon

* Speaking of zebringos and sad lives, this year's Christmas tree "theme" will be my favorite forever and ever because really? There is no way it can be topped. Pun intended. It's a magical blend of freaking awesome and whimsical and IF WE'RE LUCKY my husband may not throw a fit like last year. I'm not trying to keep it a secret (the kids know and are all on board)(except for the youngest, who just looked confused when it was explained and said "that sounds weird"), but if I blab I know he will attempt to thwart my efforts. I cannot be stopped.

* There's only 2 of us at work, aside from the agent, so we get to listen to whatever we want on the stereo. Are they still called stereos in 2014? In any case, my first day on the job the other guy asked if I minded music on.

"Only if it doesn't suck."

Luckily my go-to radio station is what he was already listening to which means that:
  • I was meant to work there
  • There are no arguments 
  • He is forced gets to listen to me sing for 4 hours a day. And dance in my chair to anything that requires it. And squeal when my favorites come on. 

* I grew up as the oldest of five: 4 girls and a boy caboose. For those keeping score, that would be the exact opposite of my five kiddos. I was talking to Sierra the other day about what a different experience she's had growing up, surrounded by boys. I truly can't imagine a life without sisters. This post {five years ago!) was the last time we were all together.

 A few things evident in these photos:

Those laughs that you can hear from outside a room when the door is closed? We all have them.

We have no problem squeezing each others body parts in front of sacred religious buildings.

We clearly never treated Benjamin like a little submissive cat that we could dress up and push around in a stroller.

We always establish boundaries and respect others personal space.

We have a love of jazz hands and spirit fingers. Probably not the look his bride imagined in her wedding photos, but look what a good sport she is.

We also were raised on a healthy diet of 7 Brides For 7 Brothers, My Fair Lady, and The Sound of Music. You know what would be super fun in a sophisticated wedding shot? To channel the von Trapp family at their farewell Nazi concert competition. Cuc-koo. Cuc-koo.

{why was I trying to be more conservative and attempting to grow my hair out again? I can't pull it off.}

So when I came across this video on instagram, not only can I guarantee that we have no less than 47 primitive home videos from growing up that would look eerily similar to this routine, but it made me miss my mild mannered, never ridiculous sisters something awful...

A video posted by ali royal (@aroyal2) on

Happy Thursday.