Archive for May, 2011
We had a bunch of requests for a tutorial on Clara’s pull sting piñata, so here ya go. And if you have no interest in this project but want to blow off some steam after work you could easily turn this post into a drinking game and take a sip every time I say the word piñata. But beware, you won’t be ok to drive afterwards. Anyway, I had never heard of a pull string piñata until I got some unsolicited baby party catalog with one and I instantly realized that it was a genius idea for wee ones. Clara’s not exactly strong enough (or coordinated enough) to whack a regular piñata with a bat, but she can definitely tug a string like the best of them. And the entire concept behind a pull string piñata is exactly what it sounds like: each kid holds a string and tugs on it so the piñata bursts open and treats fly out. Here it is in action for ya (you can also see the video here) and although Clara just ended up watching from the sidelines, she really seemed to enjoy the show:
Who knew my weird homemade piñata would actually work? Anyone who saw Friday’s post saw that the first few steps left it looking a little questionable (I’ll recap those steps quickly so this post is a one stop shop for anyone who wants to whip up one of their own). And I’m sure there were some doubts that it would work out (mine included) but I guess this piñata was destined to beat the piñata odds. First we made paper maché (mixing approximately two parts water to one part flour)…
… and blew up one of these punch balloons from Target that wasn’t in our color scheme (the orange one)…
… and cut a bunch of newspaper strips…
… which I paper machéd to the big balloon…
… which I then let dry a bit overnight and then hung outside in the morning to hopefully speed up the drying process (since it was still soggy and looking a bit like a goiter).
That didn’t help much because it was a humid day, so I brought it inside and thanks to some reader recommendations I actually opted to break out the hairdryer on that sucker. It worked really well (drying it out completely in about ten minutes for a nice hard shell).
How about that orangey paneling in the background? Are you feeling inspired yet?
Anyway, then I popped the balloon which slipped out really easily, leaving me with a large hollow piñata-ish thing (which still wasn’t breaking any hearts in the looks department):
I turned it over (with the bottom of it facing up) and used an exacto knife to cut a little “exit flap” for all of the treats to fly out of:
Here it is opened so you can see what I mean:
Then I added our kid-friendly treats. We didn’t want anything too small and choking-hazard-ish going on, so we went with crowd pleasing packs of Goldfish and Teddy Grahams.
Once they were inside I used a hole puncher to make nine holes that I’d use to attach nine pieces of ribbon (since there would be nine kids coming who I figured might want to get in on the fun):
I cut nine 30″ lengths of curling ribbon and treaded them each through the holes so they could be duct taped down on the back of the flap.
Then I realized that in order for my flap to stay closed with all the weight of the treats inside (since this was the bottom of the piñata and gravity wasn’t on my side) I would need smaller flaps of cardboard to hold it closed. So I used more duct tape to secure those smaller flaps to the opening…
… so that my large flap could be slid in behind them and held closed by those handy smaller tabs. It worked but I’ll admit it- at this point it was looking pretty grim. Have you ever seen an uglier piñata? I said a little prayer that tissue paper could cover a multitude of sins.
Since the balloon was no longer inside, I had nothing that the piñata was hanging from anymore, so I folded four 4″ pieces of duct tape around the top hole (to reinforce the paper maché shell) and then used my trusty hole puncher to create four holes through the duct-tape enforced areas. Then I used two long pieces of ribbon (which Burger was mildly interested in) and looped each one through two of the holes (the ones that were opposite each other) and tied them off at the top to create two long loops that were the same length. I figured that was stronger than trying to knot four of them inside of the piñata or something, and it really did turn out to be nice and secure.
With my heavy duty string-it-up system going on, I looped my two long strings over those weird eyeball cabinets in the kitchen (so they could watch- more on those here). This enabled me to have two free hands to start adding little pink fish scales in the hopes of saving The World’s Ugliest Piñata.
It only took one 99 cent pack of pink tissue paper from Target, which I folded and then cut little scales out of (by folding it I was able to cut out a bunch at a time, and soon I was left with a big pile of them). Oh and on the subject of budget, that was all I purchased for this project since I had the ribbon already and the newspaper and paper maché paste (flour + water) were free since I had those in the cabinet and the recycling bin. Oh and the multi-packs of Goldfish and Teddy Grahams were $7 all together, so this whole project came in at under $8.
But on to the fun stuff – the fish scaling step. As I mentioned yesterday, the design was inspired by this one that I pinned on Pinterest a while back. So I figured that taping the scales from the bottom up would hopefully yield the same sweet (and semi-finished looking) results as my inspiration piñata (and yes, I just snickered at the use of “inspiration piñata” – what an insane sentence).
I just worked my way around in rows, gently twisting the piñata as I taped around it on all sides (using regular old scotch tape), and moving up from the bottom slowly – row by row. I was left with a pretty cute result. Definitely something at least 5,000 times easier on the eyes than the mess of newspaper and duct tape underneath it all. As for the top, I just folded the top scales into the hole and taped them to the inside for as polished of a look as I could manage (I knew it would be hung pretty high so no one would likely see the top, but I’m weird so I still tried to make it look ok anyway).
Isn’t she kinda cute?
It was definitely lots o’ fun. So that’s how I started out making a record-breakingly ugly piñata and then tried to course correct with some sheer determination and a pack of tissue paper. Hope anyone at home who decides to follow suit ends up with something at least this sweet (and most likely a lot sweeter).
Good times. Have you guys made piñatas or other homemade party games (cornhole? pin the tail on the donkey?). Share and share alike.
Psst- We’re over on BabyCenter sharing the play by play for making cheap and easy balloon garlands here. When it comes to festive party bang for your buck, it doesn’t get much simpler than those.
Remember back when we got our conference room slash hotel-ish parsons chairs on Craiglist for $25 a pop?
We always envisioned cheerful apple green ones (and even tried a crazy chair-painting project with
limited zero success) so in the end we admitted that slipcovers or reupholstering would be the way to go.
And after a long a$$ time spent going back and forth between the merits of slipcovers and reupholstering we decided that slipcovers would ultimately be the best choice for us (since we love the idea of tossing them into the wash). But we didn’t want anything fussy and long for fear of taking the dining room from hotel conference room to hotel banquet hall. So first we did some serious slipcover seeking and found a silhouette that we both liked. We landed on a no longer sold Pottery Barn option because we both appreciated the clean-lined mostly-fitted look and the short skirt for that show-me-some-leg effect
But alas, they weren’t the green tone that we wanted and they weren’t the right measurements to fit our chairs. Oh yeah and they weren’t even sold anymore (and when they were they weren’t in our budget anyway). After a bit more digging we came across some off-white ones from World Market with the same basic silhouette and they were a lot closer to our chair’s measurements. Although they didn’t come in a happy apple green color (and instead were off-white) I’m no stranger to dyeing things (like my wedding dress), so I thought it might be fun to give green dye a shot.
But of course being the cheap-o that I am, I hemmed and hawed and didn’t even show them to John at their original $60 for two price tag. I know, I know- $30 per slipcover isn’t a bad price but for some reason I was just too scared to pull the trigger. So that tab remained open on my computer for a while without me taking any action- not even just the show-your-husband-and-see-what-he-thinks kind. Then I got an email from World Market saying that a lot of their dining stuff was on sale. Dining stuff? Does that include slipcovers? Off to that always-open slipcover tab I flew, and hit refresh. Bam, $20 off!
Instead of $60 for two they were marked down to $40 for two (just $20 a pop). Heck, I doubt I could have bought fabric and thread to DIY my own slipcovers for that price (especially if you factor in a laaaaarge margin of error and hours spent screaming into a pillow). And my nightmare was ending up with eight slipcovers that were wonky and abnormal (since repeating the same steps eight times would surely yield some being looser or longer or weirder than others).
Yup, $23 slipcovers definitely sounded like the perfect complement to my $25 chairs. So I did that little tap-your-man-on-the-shoulder-and-tell-him-you-found-something thing and then waited to gauge John’s interest. And he proved that I know him well, but not that well. His response? “We should get ten instead of eight. That way if we have any dyeing issues we have extras on hand and if we don’t need them we can return the extras to the store to avoid shipping fees (World Market is nice like that).”
I’m used to him saying “we don’t need that.” So I can’t argue with a man who wants to buy more of something. Especially such a practical man with such good points about dyeing and returning the extras if we didn’t need ‘em. Alrighty then. Ten it was. The total for all 10 slipcovers including shipping and sales tax came out to $232, which made each slipcover just $23 a pop (with a possibility of recouping $40 if we didn’t have any dyeing issues and returned the extra two to the store – for a total of $192 spent).
So we ordered them and waited what felt like forever for them to show up (in reality it was probably around 2 weeks) and then I excitedly unwrapped one to slip it onto our chairs to judge how good the fit actually was…
Talk about a wop-wop moment.
I realized I could probably attempt to tailor them myself to get a better fit, but that’s still waaaaay outside of my beyond-beginner skill set (I know someone will tell me it’s easy and I can do it but I’m all about working up to stuff like that and messing around with idiot proof projects like pillows and runners while I build up my confidence). So instead I decided to take the easy way out and wash one in hot water to see how much it would shrink up. Just as an experiment. Into the wash it went and I waited for the beep to signify that it was time to toss it into the dryer about a half hour later.
As I went to put it into the dryer I decided to check the tag to make sure it was ok to put it on high heat (for maximum shrinkage). That’s when I saw that the tag said “dry clean only.” Whaaaaaat?????? Who the heck sells slipcovers that have to be dry cleaned? Isn’t the whole point of slipcovers to be easy to just toss into the laundry pile?
Perhaps in an act of defiance (or sheer lunacy) I decided to high heat dry it. I had already washed it in hot water so I just went for it. I was hoping it would come out fitting really well and then I’d know that I could continue to machine wash them at home (because dry cleaning slipcovers isn’t an option for someone like me – I mean I can machine wash my sectional’s slipcovers, so why would my dining chairs be allowed to be high maintenance?).
When it came out of the dryer it was all warm and delicious and it didn’t look like the cover for a dollhouse chair or anything so I was semi-enthused. I ran over to one of my chairs and slipped it on. Holy bananas, it was almost a perfect fit. Still a tiny bit loose on the sides, but perfectly fitted nearly everywhere else and the slight imperfection of the semi-loose sides didn’t bother me (we’re down with the casual lived-in look, and actually worried that the dining room would feel too formal, so it was a pretty great place to end up).
This story will probably perpetuate the we’re-perfect-and-nothing-ever-goes-wrong-here-in-YHL-world stereotype (we’re so not – more on that here) but it was one of those “ahhhhhhh” sound effect moments where angels sang and the clouds parted and a beam of heavenly light shined down on the amazing little slipcovered chair. I have no idea why it worked, but I guess it was just one of those crazy risks that paid off. Whatever, I’ll take it. And just because I love a little side by side comparison, here’s a slipcover before I washed it (in hot water and high heat dried it) next to a newly washed and dried version of the same one:
And the great news is that the covers are super thick- so none of that crazy pattern beneath them shows through – even on the chairs in front of the window with the light shining down on them. Whew.
So although I definitely still have plans to dye them apple green down the road, it’s immediately nicer not to have all that crazy hotel pattern going on in there. Although with the white walls it’s all a little… white.
We’re actually thinking that we want to paint the walls before we dye the chairs, just to be 100% sure that once the walls get a soft gray coat of color that we won’t want to keep the off-white covers for some reason. We don’t expect that we will (since they look dingy in comparison to the crisp white trim and built-ins thanks to their off-white coloring), but you know, just in case. If there’s anything that this post demonstrates, it’s that I can take my time when it comes to pulling the trigger (and then I can snap and defy the washing instructions of said item with a devil-may-care attitude while furiously biting my nails the whole time). Lookout world, I’m a wild child.
Pssst- Oh em gee. Who watched Jersey Housewives last night? What do we think about the new girl (Melissa I think) vs. Teresa? Either way, Momma Manzo is always my favorite (I love to watch her & her boys hang out in that kitchen, throwing cold cuts and talking jibberish).
***This giveaway is no longer accepting entries – see who won below!***
According to random.org, our lucky winner who is getting their wish for Liberty is: Cindy A (who joins the crowd who loves oil-rubbed bronze). Congrats!
If clothes make the man, you might say that hardware makes the kitchen. So it’s pretty sweet that Liberty Hardware is hooking one of you up with the chance to give your whole kitchen (or bathroom, for that matter) a major facelift thanks to $400 (yep, four-zero-zero) worth of knobs, pulls, switch plates, hooks, or anything else from their stylin’ catalog. So this could be your shot to make your kitchen more modern with sleek stainless steel pulls or to turn up the traditional vibe with some classic oil-rubbed bronze knobs (or something else entirely- they have lots to choose from).
- PRIZE: A $400 gift card to Liberty Hardware
- TO ENTER: Comment on this post with the words “GIVE ME LIBERTY! and…
- BONUS QUESTION: … tell us what hardware finish floats your boat. Are you brushed nickel all the way? A hardcore polished chrome fan? Or do you sway more towards the hammered golds or bronzes?
- GIVEAWAY CLOSES: Wednesday, May 18th at 8pm EST
- NUMBER OF WINNERS: One
- PRIZE SHIPS: United States or Canada
- USUAL STUFF: One entry per e-mail address is permitted. The winner will be selected using random.org and announced on Thursday as an update to this post. That’s right, come right back here on Thursday morning for the announcement of our winners. Good luck…