Cake Pops!

My mom and I (along with some well-intended help from the kids) made cake pops for the kids' preschool Christmas parties. Basically, they are cake balls on a lollipop stick. Check out the Bakerella website for instructions and tons of cute ideas. 


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Although time-consuming, they are relatively easy to make and lots of fun. Not to mention yummy. And as the name says, you can literally POP the whole thing in your mouth! Ours were devils food cake/white icing for the ball, covered in melted red candy coatings. We also melted some green candy coatings, put it in a plastic mustard bottle and drizzled some on top.

While we were working on the pops we stuck them in a floral styrofoam block. For the finishing touch we wrapped each in a tiny treat bag and tied a tag onto it (the kids punched the tag with a heart-shaped hole punch). All the supplies can be found on Amazon.


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We had a few left over...but they didn't last long around my house!

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Mirror, Mirror on the Wall!

My children's school, Sullins Academy, recently held its annual auction to benefit the school. This is the school's biggest fundraiser and there was no shortage of work done by the students, teachers and moms. Each class has an art project for the live auction and I was in charge of the 3-year-old class (after all, I do have 3 of the 10 toddlers in the class!).


The goal of the project is to do something creative, have each child participate and sell (you hope) to a parent at a high price! I decided to do a mirror surrounded by handpainted tiles fired in the kiln at our local ceramics studio, Kil'n Time (a big thank you to the owners, who graciously donated all the supplies).


All of the classes had amazing art projects, but I must say I am especially proud of Mrs. Oliver's class for doing such a wonderful job! Here is the finished mirror (and my reflection, snapping the photo!):

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First, I painted a border around the tiles the kids were to paint, along with each child's name. Then they painted whatever they wanted on the tiles. Mrs. Oliver painted a tile too.

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Next, I took pictures of each child (and Mrs. O.), traced them on a tile, and painted a background. Kil'n Time used a special technique to fire the photos in a sepia tone on the tiles. I painted a couple of filler tiles with the school and class name, and voila, we had a finished product that went for $1,200 at the auction! Ok...I must admit that my dad was the one who bought it, but still there were many bidders driving up the price!

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I also donated 18 pairs of earrings for the silent auction. Last I checked they were going for around $900, which made me very happy!

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I displayed them on this enormous box that almost didn't fit on the silent auction tables. Covered in turquoise burlap (fun but messy) and leopard ribbon, it has an artsy sphere made out of chicken wire at the top.

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Before we put the tiles on the mirror, Jackson helped me paint the frame.

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His t-shirt may not have helped the Cowboys win, but Sullins definitely won at the auction!

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Hopping Down the Bunny Trail

Kids love Easter and our little bunnies are no exception. They are still little, but I wanted their Easter baskets to be something special. I happened upon these bright buckets at Lowe's one day (for about $6 each) and knew they would be perfect to hold all the treasures the Easter Bunny would bring this year.

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The lady at the checkout counter looked at me incredulously when I told her why I was buying the buckets. She remarked that I would have to get a "lot of toys and candy to fill up those things." Little did she know that they would be filled with mostly grass!

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I lined the buckets with "grass" made from brightly colored cardstock paper that was run through our industrial-sized shredder at work (it makes crinkle-cut shreds). You can also make small quantities of paper with small shredders from office-supply stores. As you'll see in just a moment, we had enough grass to plant a small yard, which I would not recommend unless you plan to single-handedly bring back multi-colored shag.


I filled the "baskets" with lots of fun items from the $1 section at Target (I even managed to squeak by this year without including any candy...don't worry, they had plenty from friends & family!). I cut out colorful flowers and glued them onto paint stirrers (also from Lowe's) to add a bit of height to the baskets. Our kids used them as wands and rakes to scoop up their grass. They became somewhat dangerous as the day wore on so they were retired to the "later" pile (the wands, not the kids).

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After church we went out for Easter lunch and the cutest centerpieces were on our table. What fun to put Peeps and jelly beans in the vases! They didn't last long...our kids took one look at them and the Peeps were history within minutes. So much for the no-candy Easter!

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Our three-year-old got a haircut on Good Friday and his hairdresser (yes, he already has a hairdresser) surprised him with this cute-as-a-button homemade bunny cake. It was as delicious as it was pretty. I had a hard time making it out of the parking lot without biting off an ear. Don't think the kids wasted any time in getting to know this wabbit weally well!

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Egg-coloring (real) and hunting (plastic) was big at our house this year. I've never seen a prettier bunch of eggs than this, the first-ever batch colored by my little rabbit fu fu's (when I was younger I used to recite that riddle over and over, standing on my grandparents' hearth. Maybe I was doing a rain dance of sorts and didn't know it, since I ended up with so many rabbits?).

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A tiny part (and I do mean tiny) of our Easter grass explosion, or tumbleweed, as depicted here. Honestly the kids loved the grass more than any of the other toys, proving once again that the packaging is often better than the product. As they say, the grass is always greener.

Unique Uses 1

I'm always spotting unusual ways that people are using vintage items so I decided I would start a new series called "Unique Uses." There are lots of ways to repurpose an item. Here are a few ideas...

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This drum is being used to hold magazines and other brochures at JJ's restaurant in Bristol, TN. The front was opened up and a shelf installed in the middle, with a chain to hold the front "door" open. The restaurant has a music theme, so this is a perfect little accessory for the front table.

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The next two items are hanging at Rockfish in Roanoke, VA. Above, they took an old stair railing and simply added some hooks. It's hanging near the front door for patrons to store coats and hats while they're dining.

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This one is an old door turned on its side. One of the panels was removed and a mirror was put in its place. A small ledge was added to the top for lights or other decorative trinkets. 

Think twice before you throw something out! You'll save money and it's the green thing to do.

Before & After

You don't have to spend a lot of money to transform a piece of furniture. All you need is a willingness to dig around in antique stores or flea markets and a little elbow grease.

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I purchased this loveseat (I say "loveseat," you say "settee") at an antique store for about $60. The woven cane back was a shabby tan before but I spray painted it gold. Spray paint can be used for so many projects and comes in great colors! I've used it to paint our outdoor wrought iron railing, our mailbox, wicker outdoor furniture and more. You can even get chalkboard paint that you can spray right onto your wall!

I also gave the arms and legs a lift by first painting them gold with a brush, after lightly sanding. Over top of that I painted everything a dark umber color. In between those two steps I rubbed certain areas with wax, areas where wear and tear is likely to occur and where I wanted the gold to pop. After the top coat of paint, I then lightly sanded the waxed areas and ta-da! The gold glittered through the brown. To finish I put a sealer on the wood.

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A few yards of relatively inexpensive fabric took the bench from blah to wow, with the help of two pillows in a coordinating fabric and fringe trim.

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This loveseat cost about $40 at a second-hand store and it simply needed a few yards of fabric to make it spiffy.

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Just about right for two lovebirds.

Vintage Theatre Curtains

We stumbled upon a great find for our corporate museum. On the college campus where our offices are located, there was a theatre (circa 1972) that was used for community productions. Sadly, it had fallen into disrepair over the years and despite our asking around, even the city couldn't take it over, due to high maintencance costs. Alas, we had to tear it down. So we set about salvaging every last item from the theatre that we possibly could. What a fun project (at least I thought so!)!

I have to say I was the only one of our "salvage group" who thought twice about saving the stage curtains. "Too musty," "too dirty," everyone said. Nonsense! They were beautiful velvet and simply could not be thrown away for such trivial reasons! There were two layers of curtains: red velvet and royal blue velvet. The red curtains were in much better shape; while I desperately wanted to save the blue, it just wasn't possible.

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We took the curtains down on a sunny day and spread them out on one of the long driveways on campus. We had decided that they would serve as valances on some of our larger museum windows, and they needed to be cut to size. Astonishingly, the curtains had seams in the exact spot where we needed to trim, which made our job infinitely easier. They did not even need to be hemmed! We laid them out, sprinkled carpet cleaner and Febreze on them, and spent an entire Saturday vacuuming them.

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The uses for the curtains proved to be much more abundant than we had first predicted. Not only did they yield wonderful valances for all of the major museum rooms, they also produced skirts for underneath the bathroom sinks, a tree skirt for our annual Christmas tree and long curtains for other rooms. We even tacked fabric on the ends of the curtains for makeshift trim (the fabric was pinned on...see this post for another idea using crazy quilts).

Next time you're not sure if you can salvage something, just remember it's never too late for another curtain call.

Personalized Coloring Pages

I just had to share this amazingly innovative and simple project for kids that I found on Tip Junkie the other day. Turn any photo into a sketch for your kids to color!

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Simply go to Dumpr, a cool website where you can play all kinds of tricks with your photos. For a coloring page, choose the sketch option.

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Then you upload the photo of your choice and within seconds you will have a black and white sketch that's ready for crayons, markers or paint! I uploaded and printed 15 photos of various family members for our kids to color and I spent a total of 10 minutes from start to finsh. I saved all of the sketches in a folder on my computer so I can print them again and again.

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Here's our 3-year-old's interpretation of mommy and daddy. I don't know, maybe my eye looks even better in this version. Wouldn't it be fun to make an entire personalized coloring book to give as a gift at a birthday party?

Find Your Marbles

There's something extraordinary about displaying the ordinary in your home. Lots of colorful vintage marbles together in a glass jar make a great conversation piece. These particular marbles have a sad but sentimental history for me. One of my mom's little brothers passed away tragically when he was just 8 years old, in 1955. These were his marbles and I'm sure he received hours and hours of enjoyment playing with them.

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My Granny lovingly kept the marbles all these years in a sealed bag in the back of a deep drawer, one she would rarely open. From time to time she would show me the marbles and his other toys, clothes and books. She would tell me sweet stories about each item, even though I now know that it must have greatly pained her to do so. When she passed away a few years ago I brought the marbles home and knew I wanted to give them an important place to live. I put them in a clear glass milk bottle from Homestead Creamery, an old-fashioned but thriving dairy located near our lake house. Glass milk bottles themselves have a vintage feel (I also like to use them for vases) and pairing them with vintage marbles seemed like a good combination.

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I wish I could have known my uncle, but having his marbles on my shelf will have to suffice in a small way. Granny would be happy to know that our youngest son resembles her little boy. I'm sure he'll enjoy playing marbles someday too and each time he does I'll be reminded how precious life really is.

Mink Teddy Bear

A few years ago my Granny had an old mink coat she could no longer wear. My mom came up with an ingenious idea...turn the fur into teddy bears! She sent it off to a company that did just that (similar companies can be found through an internet search) and we ended up with four adorable little furries (I added the bow for a finishing touch). One for Granny, one for mom, one for me and one for my aunt.

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He's like a giant Steiff bear; his arms, legs and head move to see what I'm doing throughout the day. I love knowing that his arms once kept my Granny warm (here he's perched on her sofa). I hope my daughter will enjoy having him by her bedside for many years.

Create a teddy if you want to turn your heirloom fur into a piece of nostalgia (or if you're just against wearing fur for p.c. reasons). If, on the other hand, you're not so p.c. and think nothing of wearing your fur to the grocery store, you might want to check out this earlier post for another idea.