Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Another DIY Halloween Project

I made a red, white and blue version of this decoration back in June after seeing the instructions over on Martha Stewarts website.  I looked so I could share the directions here but now can't seem to find the project so I will tell you how I made mine.  I want to add that the one I completed in June looks different because it only had 12 cones and this one has 16.  To be honest I like the fuller version better.

You will need: 

4 sheets of 12x12 double sided scrapbook paper
Paper Trimmer
White Craft Glue (I used Martha Stewarts glue and really liked it for this project)
8 inch cardboard circle (an empty cereal box works great for this)
Hot Glue Gun and glue sticks
6 inch piece of ribbon
Some type of embellishment to cover the center

First you will need to cut your papers into 6x6 inch squares.  Once your papers are cut roll each square into a cone shape and run a thin bead of glue down the edge of paper and press it together.  I generally hold the seam with my fingers for a minute until the glue takes hold.  Do this for all the squares of paper until you have 16 cones.

Take your cardboard circle and a cone and run a line of glue from the center of the circle to the edge and then press the cone down into it.  Repeat until you have all the cones glued down.  Hot glue your embellishment over the center of the circle to cover the tips of the cones.  I always have a difficult time getting the center to stick using regular glue.  This time around I actually used some dimensional glue dots to hold the center on so if you have that on hand go ahead and use it.  Finally, fold your ribbon in half and hot glue it onto the back so you can hang the decoration up.

It takes less than an hour to complete this project and I love how easy it is to make a cute and fairly inexpensive decoration.  Here are a few things I learned this time around.  First, when working with a patterned paper that has stripes (or words) make sure you fold the cones so the design goes in the same direction (you will notice that this did not happen for me but I was not going to start over).  Second, it is much easier to use hot glue when putting the paper onto the cardboard. 

I do not have an abundance of Halloween themed papers so I used Photoshop Elements 7 and digital papers to create my project.  The papers are from Echo Park's Apothecary Paper Pack #2 that you can purchase and download from here

I hope you feel inspired to give this a try.  I plan on making another one for Christmas!

Monday, September 27, 2010

Fall Tea Party

Last Thursday was gorgeous!  The temperature was 70 degrees and the sun was shining and I knew our days of beautiful weather are numbered so I put tutus on the girls and set up a tea party for them outside.  I am so glad I did this!  Aubrey and Lorelei had such a great time and I was able to get a few great photos.  Win for all of us! 

I purchased the tutus from Paisley and Posies on Etsy.com and I have been more than satisfied with my purchases from here.  The adorable smiling pink tea pot is from Fisher-Price.  It was a Christmas gift for the girls last year and this has gotten a ton of use and it has taken a beating and still works like a charm.  It sings and talks and makes real tea pot noises. 

I challenge you to surprise your kids with something special this week!  I bet there will be lots of smiles from everyone. 

Thursday, September 23, 2010

DIY Halloween Decoration

With Halloween just 38 days away I have been in full on decorating mode!  Not that we have one of those extremely decorated houses, it is just the opposite, but I do not have an abundance of decorations and decided that this year I would make as much as I could.  Now that I have kids I want each holiday to be fun for them so I find myself wanting to go a little overboard with our decorating.  Unfortunately for me (but better for JG's checking account) the Germans do not really celebrate Halloween so heading out to purchase decorations on the economy is impossible.  The Post Exchange is not any better as they carry a very small amount of decorations and costumes.  So if I want anything I need to order it online.  And I do but it is generally limited to costumes and party supplies. 

So now that I have rambled on let's talk about the cute BOO frame I made after seeing this idea on the eighteen25 blog.  I loved the idea but instead of creating 3 5x7 frames I went with 1 since I was using supplies that I had on hand.  Digging through my stash of scrapbooking supplies I found some chipboard letters that were covered in a design that I no longer liked so I carefully peeled off the top layer and coated the bare surface with a layer of Mod Podge before completely covering the letters with glitter.  Since this was a messy project I used a sheet of wax paper to cover the work surface and a toothpick to help get the glitter onto the sides of the letters. 

The background paper is a digital paper from the Echo Park Trick or Treat collection that you can find here.  I don't have any Halloween papers in my stash so I am glad that I could use digi papers to make this a hybrid project.  I used Photoshop Elements 7 to create a clipping mask sized slightly larger than my 5x7 frame and moved the paper around until I was happy with the placement of the spider and webs.  Then I printed out the paper and trimmed it to fit the opening of my frame.  I removed the glass from the frame and saved it so after Halloween I can use the it for something else.  Finally, I added the letters using glue dots once they were dry.

This was a simple project that adds some glitter to my book shelf and I love it so much.  I am thinking of ways to use this idea for other holidays. 

Don't forget to enter the giveaway below.  I am leaving the comments open until this Saturday.

Sunday, September 19, 2010


As promised I am offering a giveaway here today.  Since I have had many posts on Eastern Europe I thought I would giveaway a Rick Steves' Eastern Europe 2000-2007 DVD.  This DVD has 5 episodes covering Prague, Krakow, Budapest, Slovenia and Croatia and Bulgaria. 

Want to win?  Leave me a comment telling me if you have ever traveled to Eastern Europe.  Want 2 entries in the drawing?  Become a follower of my blog and leave another comment telling me you are a follower.  I will leave this giveaway open until Saturday, September 25th and I will select a winner using Random.org and post the winner here.  If you are reading this on Facebook please visit my blog and leave a comment here.

Disclaimer - I am in no way associated with Rick Steves.  My husband purchased the same DVD twice so I am giving one away to my readers rather than return it.  If you don't win but are interested in purchasing a copy you can click on the link below.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Krivoklat Castle, Czech Republic

The Krivoklat Castle was our last stop in the Czech Republic.  It gave us a chance to admire the Czech country side and see a few other castles in the hills along the way.  This is an older castle which was originally built as a hunting castle for Bohemian kings then later used as a royal prison.  There have been several rebuilds on this site due to fire.  The current structure was built in 1800s. 

I liked this simplistic castle.  The grounds were small and craftsman were scattered about.  There were a few things to do for people of all ages such as a small archery demo and even an old fashioned coin press where you do the work and a small play area for kids. This was a great place for my girls to stretch their legs.  We parked near the castle and had just a short walk to the grounds.  A 30 minute tour is offered (not sure if they offer it in English) but we skipped it because it is hard to keep the girls quiet for such a long stretch of time and they really have quick fingers that want to touch everything...which does not go over well with the guides.
This door was stunning.  I love the contrast between the iron and red paint.

Thanks for sticking around as I finished up the photos from our last trip to Berlin, Prague and the Czech Republic.  We have had a busy summer and now that fall is here we plan on being home a bit more.  Come back tomorrow as I have a Rick Steves' Eastern Europe DVD to giveaway to one of my readers.  Next week I will get back to the scrapping side of things for a bit as I have been busy making some decorations and completing some scrappy layouts. 

Have a great Saturday!

Friday, September 17, 2010

Sedlec Bone Church, Czech Republic

The Sedlec Bone Church  is a mildly interesting church located about an hour outside of Prague and if you are in the area worth a quick stop but unless you are really interested in bones arranged into piles and chandeliers I wouldn't go out of my way to visit.  We were driving from Krakow and James wanted to stop so we planned on this visit a couple of months ago.

The bones are from roughly 40,000 people who were buried in the church cemetery in the 1300s but the current arrangement of bones is from the 1870s.  I found the building to have a stronger than normal musty smell and went outside while James took the photos.

The chandelier contains at least 1 of every bone in the human body.

It should come as no surprise that James liked it more than I did. A bit creepy and slightly interesting for at least a minute. At least it wasn't expensive to take a quick look around...50 crowns or roughly $2.50 per adult and students were discounted.

At least, with the help of the Pioneer Woman's Photoshop actions and the CK Pirate Font, I was able to use a photo for our Halloween Party invitation which I designed all by myself!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Krakow, Poland

After we left Berlin we drove into Boleslawiec, Poland so I could pick up a few pieces of polish pottery on our way to Krakow.  If you are interested in reading about the history of this beautiful pottery click here.  The town has an abundance of factory stores but we went in search of the Zaklady store after a recommendation from another blog ( I can't remember the site).  The photo above is of giant pieces of pottery in front of the store. 

I was so excited to finally start my collection of beautiful pieces.  I was shocked at how very affordable everything was and the most difficult decision was what pattern I wanted.  I ended up going with a simple pattern that I should be able to find later on when I want to purchase more.  I left the store with salt and pepper shakers, a small bottle with stopper, gravy boat, sugar bowl and small creamer, small platter, small and medium sized serving bowls and spent roughly $59!  They sell the sugar bowl and creamer for close to 20 euros at the small kiosks at the Px!  I am glad I held out to get my pieces.  Since the Jeep was full of our luggage, sleeping cots for the girls and strollers I had the pottery by my feet for the rest of the trip! 

So after my quick shopping trip (less than 30 minutes) we continued in to Krakow. We really enjoyed our trip to Krakow in May (if you want to check out that post please click here) but unfortunately for us we were in Krakow while many areas of Poland were experiencing severe flooding.  This time around we had beautiful weather so we were able to do a lot more walking and exploring.  We checked out the Wawel Dragon because last time we could not walk down by the river to see it.  This statue actually blows flames out of his mouth every few minutes and was a fun, quick stop. 

We took a quick tour of the Old Jewish Cemetery which was used from 1552 to 1800.  After World War II the cemetery was renovated and the damaged headstones were used to make a mosaic wall around the grounds. 

We walked from the Jewish Quarter over to the "Ghetto" for a tour of the recently renovated Oskar Schindler's Factory.  A brand new exhibit takes you through Krakow during World War II.  There is much to see here but strollers are not permitted so we had to rush through as the girls were more than ready for a nap.  There are video screens at certain points that have the option of translating the text into English and but the newspapers and other documents that are on display are not translated at all, which was a bit of a disappointment but hopefully something they think to add in the future.  The last room of the museum is covered in newspaper and then coated in layers of wax. So interesting to look at. 

We only had one problem while we were in Krakow and using the public transportation.  James purchased our tram tickets from the ticket window at the station near the hotel as we did not have a small enough bill to stick into the ticket machine.  The lady helping him did not speak any English but another lady did and James told her we needed a ticket.  We validated the tickets as soon as we boarded the tram and went about our business.  After visiting Schindler's Factory we hopped back on the tram.  A stop or two later a group of 3 men got on and as soon as the tram was underway one of them got up and started checking passenger tickets.  As they approached us we fumbled to find our tickets and James handed them to the gentleman.  The guy was mad at us and told us we had to pay a fine because our ticket wasn't valid.  Huh?  We just purchased the ticket in the morning and validated it right away.  We had to get off the tram and another guy who spoke English told us that we had to pay a fine before we could get back on the tram because the ticket that was given to James was only valid on the weekends and we were traveling on a Tuesday.  The lady sold us the wrong ticket!  So after a few minutes of disagreeing the dude told us to purchase the correct ticket before boarding the tram again and they went on their way and we did not pay a fine. 

This was seriously a bit scary because we have been told about people who pretend to be these inspectors that will target unsuspecting tourists to try and steal money from them.  After we made it back to the hotel we spoke to the manager who assured us it was legit.  We attempt to use public transportation whenever we possibly can while in large cities and we have never been stopped to show tickets before. 

This wraps up our trip to Krakow.  I am so glad we were able to get back and see the things we missed last time due to the rain.  I really love Krakow!  It is an old city that is often overlooked when people are planning their European vacations.  I know Eastern Europe isn't as exciting as France but it deserves more attention from tourists.  The locals are friendly, hotels and food are reasonably priced and there is plenty of sights, shopping and cafes to help fill your days.  As long as you have a valid tram ticket Krakow is easy to get around. 

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Birkenau Concentration Camp, Poland

After our visit to Auschwitz we drove the short distance to Birkenau.  After Auschwitz became too small for what the Nazi's had envisioned they took this piece of land and built it up into a second camp.  The train tracks lead back to a dividing platform where families were separated forever.  Those who were chosen to work went off to the left, those who were deemed unfit were sent straight to the gas chambers.  You will notice in the photos that there are not a lot of buildings and that is because most of the buildings were destroyed and used for fuel after the camp was liberated.  The buildings that are standing now were actually rebuilt from materials left from the original structures.  The Nazi's destroyed the four crematoriums prior to their departure ahead of the Allied Forces arrival so all that remain are ruins. 

The train tracks lead to the dividing platform and then the back of the camp.

Toilets from a latrine building.

Bunks where an average of 400 prisoners slept.
View of the camp from the dividing platform.
Looking back towards the gate from the dividing platform.
Rail car placed here as a memorial to the Hungarian Jews that were murdered.
Only the chimneys of many buildings remain today.
Crematorium ruins

Camp monument in tribute to all that were murdered here.

Visiting the two camps was a very sad experience for me but seeing it all first hand was important to me.  Of all of our travels so far this was by far the most meaningful place we have visited and I hope that if you have the opportunity to come here that you do.  Reading about this part of history is so important but seeing it all up close really gives a new perspective on the horrible crimes committed against millions of innocent people. 

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Auschwitz Concentration Camp, Poland

We visited the Auschwitz Concentration Camp while we were in Krakow.  The memorial is just over an hour away by car but you can also get their using public transportation.  I don't have too much to say about this as we all know the inhumane things that took place at Auschwitz.  I was mostly surprised to learn of the horrible medical experimentation that was done to women and children here. 

The memorial is nicely set up but it can be a little difficult to get in and out of the buildings because of the amount of people that were there and the narrow stairways.  The displays inside of each building were informative.  Photos of camp victims lined the hallways...their names were listed as well as the day they arrived at Auschwitz and the day they died.  It was so sad to see many people only lasted months before they died.  In the building where personal belongings were displayed it was terrible to see piles of childrens and infants clothes...I think that may have been the hardest part for me to see.  I can not even begin to imagine the horrific things these people experienced. 

Small building for the guards to stand in during bad weather.

Courtyard where prisoners were executed.  The windows were covered so prisoners could not see what was happening.

Just a couple of miles away is the Birkenau Camp which we also visited.  I will have this photos posted tomorrow as my internet is running very slow today.