Tag Archives: DIY

Art in the Park and Canada!

We’re bound for Canada! But first, we’re participating in Art in the Park right here at home. One of my favorite memories of my childhood hometown is Art in the Park. Flagstaff, Arizona held it this festival annually on the lawn of the library. It’s something I missed when we moved to Phoenix. Now that we live in Sint Maarten, Art in the Park is back on the agenda!

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Some of my paintings that will be for sale at Art in the Park 

The best of SXM Art in the Park for me is that I get to be a part of a booth this time. If you’ve been following my blog for a while, you know that I volunteer with a local Little League team that incorporates academics into its daily program. This summer, we all get to take a trip to Canada to watch the Blue Jays play! The Rotary Club is sponsoring the trip, but of course we are teaching the boys responsibility by having them fund-raise as well.

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The kids have been working on their merchandise for a long time. Coach Tom and his wife, Lisa, came up with some great ideas. The team has a rock tumbler, and they’ve polished a couple hundred rocks over the last few months. We’ll put magnets on these and sell them for a few dollars. The kids are also making lanterns with a Canadian maple leaf on the front. I’ll be contributing some of my paintings to the fundraiser, as well.

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K. shows off one of her favorite rocks

Here’s how we made the rock magnets:

  1. The kids ran around the baseball field, gathering various little rocks.

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2. The first week, Tom tumbled the rocks with some abrasive. They came out clean, but still pretty rough. The kids washed all the gritty gray liquid off and Tom added new abrasive.

3. The second week and third weeks, the rocks were tumbled again.

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A. found an amethyst!

4. The fourth week was the last week of tumbling. This kids washed them off and shined them. We put a little lacquer on them to make them even prettier.

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5. Finally, we glued the magnets on the back. They’re ready to add some natural beauty to your fridge!

The older boys worked with volunteers to drill holes in coffee cans for the lanterns. Then everyone had a chance to paint the leaves Canada red.

Stacey and I are working on an informational display for the festival, too. All the kids and volunteers traced their hands on the background.

If you’re on Saint Martin, come visit us this Sunday (February 14) at Emilio Wilson Park in Cul de Sac between 10 and 4:30! Just head to Philipsburg, take the round-a-bout north instead of heading east to Cost-U-Less, and look for the park on your left a little past the baseball field. Let’s send these kids to Canada!

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One of our boys and Fred, a real, live Canadian! Also, note volunteer Andrea’s enthusiasm in the background. We have fun here.

 

 

 

Thanks to Stacey and Tom for providing the pictures for this post!

Eco-Friendly Christmas Tree for $0

Each year around the end of November, we are faced with the reality that CHRISTMAS IS COMING and we totally didn’t budget for it the way we should have.

For my family this year, this is due in great part to a giant international move that we were not planning on at the beginning of the year.

But as Christmas approached, we did not panic, and neither should you! Christmas does not have to be ridiculously expensive. I plan to post a few different money-saving ideas that living on student loans and freelance illustrating has driven me to dream up.

One great thing about being an international grad school family is that it makes you resourceful and inventive. And it’s actually a lot of fun!

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Today’s Christmas budget-saver is a 100% totally free Christmas tree. There are several ways to get a Christmas tree for free. You can grow it, cut one down in the woods, steal one from Walmart, or make your own. The first suggestion will take you about five years, the second is not kind to the forests and is also probably illegal, and the third is definitely illegal, although totally feasible. At least according to the Walmart cashier who subtly suggested it to us last year. I’m not sure if he was kidding or just didn’t want the hassle of going outside to ring it up.

I weighed my options. There are no Walmarts on our island to steal from,  no pine trees to cut down in the forest, and the only soil I own is in my dustpan, so I decided to make my own Christmas tree.

Here’s how I did it:

First, I gathered my materials.

  • I used the pole from a miniature flag (the kind that’s popular to attach to your car windows here on the island. I ripped off the flag, hung it on the wall, and just had the stick laying around). You can use anything long and skinny: a dowel, a skewer, etc. Sharpening the end to a point may be helpful, too, if it’s not already sharp.
  • A whole lot of paper and cardboard. I used about 5 old newspapers, a used notebook, a consumable book, two magazines, this year’s used-up calendar a big box and a bunch of little boxes. Even the box your toothpaste came in will work.
  • Scissors and possibly an exacto knife
  • A pen
  • A ruler (optional)
  • A large tin or something along those lines for the base
  • Decorations: String, tinsel, ornaments, ribbon, popcorn, shells, hairclips, etc.

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The next step is to anchor your pole. I just duct-taped it securely to a square of cardboard.
Now prepare to cut your paper. What size do you want your tree? The paper part of my tree is about 2 feet tall. It took me four hours to cut and stack the paper. The bottom layers of paper are a foot across. If you want a taller tree, cut larger squares. If you want a tiny tree, start with smaller squares.
Cut about half an inch of stacked paper to 12″ x 12″ or however large your bottom layer needs to be.
Pick up the first sheet of paper. Fold corner-to-corner and crease so that I makes a triangle. Do the same the other way so that you have a creased “X” on your paper. Where the lines intersect is the exact center of the paper. Use your pen to poke a hole in the center. Slide the paper onto the pole.
Repeat this until all your 12×12 paper is gone. Now, cut another stack of paper to about 11.75″ x 11.75.” Crease and slide the paper the same way you did before.
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Continue in this way. You’ll have to feel out the size changes as you go. If you want your tree tall and slim, you should decrease size of your paper less often and make more gradual decreases. I you want it shorter and fatter, decrease the size more often and make the decreases in paper size greater.
As you go, alternate the type of material you use. Be creative! Have fun with color and texture. Raid the recycle bin, check your pantry, and go through those stacks of paper you don’t need. I was amazed at how much recyclable material I found in our tiny one-bedroom apartment.
Leave a few inches of your pole paper-free. Slide the paper up to the top of the pole so that you can anchor the pole into the base.
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To make your base, fill your container (I used an empty Nido tin) full of beans, rocks, or sand. Create a hole in the top and stick the pole of your tree into it. Make sure to anchor and balance it.
Now is the most fun part! Time to decorate.
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Make a tree topper. I used tinfoil to fashion a star.
Use a needle, thread, and popcorn to make a popcorn strand.
I made woven paper heart ornaments. Directions coming in a future post.
The little pink hearts are made with clay mixed with cinnamon essential oil.
You can sew baubles directly onto the tree or hang them from a strand of popcorn/tinsel.
You’re finished! Congratulations. You have created a Christmas tree for free. Now, go enjoy a cup of hot cocoa. You deserve it after saving those trees and that money.
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Foodie Tuesdays! Pumpkin Spice Latte Pie

Hellooo holiday season! I love Thanksgiving and I love Christmas, so this part of the year is one of my favorites. To kick off the winter holidays, I’m starting a new segment called Foodie Tuesdays. Check back every week for new recipes! I’ll try to stick to international foods, but sometimes I just need some good American pie.

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This pi r squared.

 

As I mentioned in my post last week, I made a chocolate pumpkin spice latte pie for Thanksgiving. Here’s the recipe:

  • Gather ingredients.
    1. 1 1/2 – 2 lbs prepared pumpkin pie purée. I used one 2 lb can of pumpkin pie filling– the kind that is already spiced.
    2. I cup milk
    3. 4 eggs
    4. 1 1/2 cup melted butter (1 cup for crust and 1/2 cup for pie filling)
    5. Chocolate powder to taste (1/4 cup) if you want your latte to be a mocha
    6. Finely ground instant coffee to taste (1/4 cup)
    7. 1 cup crushed gingersnap cookies
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  • First, prepare your crust. We ground the gingersnap by soaking them in the 1 cup of butter and smashing them with a pastry cutter. You can put them in a plastic bag and crush them if that works better for you.
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  • Mix the crumbs with the butter and use a fork to evenly smash them to the bottom of your pie pan. I used a casserole because I don’t have a pie pan. Such is the budget expat life.
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  • Preheat your oven to 425* F
  • Beat your eggs. Add them, the milk, and the remaining butter to your pumpkin pie filling.
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  • Fill two small bowls with 1 cup of pie filling each. Add your coffee to one and your chocolate to the other. You may have to add extra of one or the other powder so that the pumpkin does not overpower the other flavors.
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  • Pour the orange pie filling into the pie pan. Smooth the surface.
  • Drop teaspoons of the coffee and chocolate pie filling all over the top of the orange pie filling
  • Use a butter knife to swirl and marbleize the two colors
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  • Put the pie in the oven and bake for 30-45 minutes. You should turn the temperature down to 350* F after the first 10 minutes.
  • Voilà! You have created a delicious treat to rival Starbuck’s most famous holiday drink.

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Check back next time to find out how to make your own earth-friendly Christmas tree for FREE.

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Sharpie Mugs and Good Friends

What’s better than a god cup of tea? A good cup of tea to enjoy with a friend. One thing I love about American University of the Caribbean is the people I have met! The spouses organization provides constant opportunities for the significant others of students to spend time together and build relationships. Last week’s activity was decorating sharpie mugs and sugar cookies! Every single mug was absolutely adorable. If you’ve never made a sharpie mug before, you should try it! They are cheap, easy, and leave plenty of room for creativity.

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First, gather your materials. You will need sharpies, a white mug (cheaper ones are better because the glaze melts easier in the oven), and rubbing alcohol.

IMG_9972Second, find inspiration! I posted several photos here to give ideas, and Pinterest has hundreds more.

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Designed by Emily! Visit her blog here

Third, wipe your entire cup with the alcohol. Try not to touch your cup too much because of the oils your fingers leave.

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IMG_9968Allow the sharpie to dry overnight

IMG_9967Bake at 350* F (175* C). Put the cups in the oven before you turn it on and leave them in until the oven is entirely cool. Otherwise the mugs will crack.

IMG_0022 (1)Repeat step previous step.

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Enjoy! Be careful with your cup. Do not wash in the dishwasher and be gentle when you wash it by hand.

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