A Little Thanksgiving Banner

I spent part of this weekend coloring. That’s right, as in with crayons. I wanted to try out a resistance technique that I’d seen in this post, but with a Thanksgiving flair. So I made a little banner to dress up our sideboard.

Happy Thanksgiving! Banner made from watercolors and crayon

(Yes, I know you’re supposed to hang up banners, but I liked the way it looked all laid out.)

The process was pretty simple.

I started by cutting some paper to the desired size (one rectangle for each letter) and then broke out the crayons. Because I didn’t want the crayon color to be visible in the finished product, I used white to color with.

Using a crayon for a watercolor resistance technique

The hard part about using a white crayon on white paper is that it’s hard to see where you’re coloring. I kept having to hold the paper up to the light to see what I was doing. Once I had the letters colored on each rectangle, I started brushing on the watercolors.

Creating a Thanksgiving banner using a watercolor resistance technique

I used autumn colors (red, orange, yellow, brown, and purple) since we don’t really get those colors much here. Had to make my own fall colors, you know!

Creating a Thanksgiving banner using a watercolor resistance technique

If you do this, make sure you fill in the letters completely with the crayon ahead of time. Otherwise you’ll get watercolor inside the area you’d wanted to remain white, like I did on my first attempt at the S here:

Creating a Thanksgiving banner using a watercolor resistance technique

I varied the colors used on each letter, but otherwise just winged it as I daubed on the watercolors.

Creating a Thanksgiving banner using a watercolor resistance technique

Once all of the letters were complete, it was just a matter of letting them dry, punching holes in each of the letters, and stringing them on some twine.

Creating a Thanksgiving banner using a watercolor resistance technique

This could be a fun project for both kids and kids-at-heart :)

P.S. Check out the following linkups for more ideas: Monday Handmade, Motivation Monday, Inspire-Me Monday, and Inspiration Monday.

7 Cool Gift Ideas Under $20

Looking for great gift ideas under $20? I love finding inexpensive-but-awesome things to give as Christmas gifts, so I keep an eye out for them all year long. Here are a few that I’ve found:

7 cool gifts that are under $20

1. KeySmart 2.0 – Hate jangling keys that take up too much room? This swiss army style key holder takes care of those issues. Your keys fold right inside, and you just slide out the one you want to use. My husband actually bought this for himself a while back, and it’s very cool. They start at just under $20. I LOVE not having to listening to a bunch of jingling while we walk, and he loves the compact organization. Get it here.

2. Oh Snap! Mug – Fill this mug with a few gingerbread cookies and a recipe for making more, and you’ve got a cute little themed gift that will make the recipient laugh. Get it here.

3. Kinetic Sand – Kinetic sand is so much fun to play with, for both adults and kids over age 3. (And yes, I’m speaking from experience.) It doesn’t dry out, cleans up easily, and you can mold it into shapes. It’s relaxing, too. Get it here.

4. LEGO storage box – If you know someone who’s into LEGOs, this storage box is an awesome idea. (It comes in other colors too.) If you get more than one, you can stack them or mix and match. Get it here.

5. Mad Libs – I’ve always loved word games, and Mad Libs are among my favorites. Younger kids especially seem to enjoy putting together silly stories. Great for road trips. Get it here.

6. Animated movies – Movies are always a good bet, and the LEGO movie 2-disc set is currently on sale at Target for $17.99 with free shipping. And if you haven’t gotten sick of hearing the songs yet, they also have the Frozen sing-along edition available for pre-order at the same price. Get them on Target’s website.

7. Syma S107G RC Helicopter – RC helicopters can be fun, but they’re usually really pricey. The Syma S107G RC helicopter comes in under $20 though. You use it indoors and it has good reviews, so I’m including it as an inexpensive idea that could be worth checking out. Get it here.

Do you have any to add to the list?

What’s the best inexpensive gift you’ve ever received? Was it something homemade, or just super thoughtful?

I really liked the year my husband put a pack of nail files in my stocking because he’d noticed I could never find mine! If you have any cool ideas to add to the list, leave them in the comments.

Turning an Engineering Print into a Whiteboard

I use Google Calendar for my daily business to-do lists, but sometimes I get so bogged down in the little tasks that I forget about the big picture.

To avoid that, I decided to put up a whiteboard where I could list 5 or 6 major projects and see them regularly. I like to switch between a lot of different things, and this will keep me coming back to the major projects until I finally finish some of them. (I hope!)

But I didn’t want to put up just any whiteboard. I wanted it to be something I’d enjoy looking at too. So I priced out getting a whiteboard printed with an image on it, and just about choked at the proposed cost of around $200.

Then I remembered engineering prints, and geeky TV shows with clear glass whiteboards. Why not combine the two to create a frameless dry erase board?

With that, a zebra was born.

Make a dry erase board out of an engineering print

Here he is in use on my actual wall.

Dry erase board made from an engineering print

(Excuse the wonky reflections. They’re not that noticeable in real life.) I’m really happy with how it turned out, and I do think having the dry erase board right next to my desk will help keep me more organized. If you’re curious, here’s how I created it.

Creating the image

My first thought was to head to the zoo and take some photos of a zebra to use. But then I thought, hey, someone else has probably already done that. So I used Flickr’s Advanced Search feature to find zebra photos that were available to use commercially and that I’d be allowed to adapt, modify, and build upon.

I found this beauty by Barbara Eckstein:

Zebra photograph by Barbara Eckstein

I went to town editing the photo

Since I needed whitespace to write on, I used Photoshop to cut the zebra out of the background. Next up was using the Sketch > Graphic Pen option to make him look more drawing-like, and to turn him black and white. (Zebras aren’t really black and white, you know.)

Then I played with the layout and cropping until I had enough white space in the right place. To make that really work, I also gave the zebra’s mane a bit of a haircut, and shortened his nose a tad. I also messed around with adding some sample text to it just to help me visualize what the final product might look like.

When I liked the result, I increased the dpi to 150, and then saved the file at actual print size. (30 inches by 36 inches, which not coincidentally matched the size of the sheet of glass I had in mind.)

You can see the basic process outlined in this screenshot.

Creating a zebra engineering print

I dropped off the file — minus my test text — at Alphagraphics, and they printed it for me. (It cost me about $15 for the 30”x36” print.)

Building the board itself

There was one thing I was stumped on when it came to building the board itself. (Ok, a couple of things.)

1. How was I going to attach the engineering print to it?
2. How was I going to attach it to the wall, since I wanted it to be frameless?

In the end, I just taped the four corners of the print to the wall using regular scotch tape, and peeled the tape off after we’d installed the glass. (That way I can change the image out later if I feel like it.) Then I used 1/8” mirror clips from Ace to hold the glass in front of the print, being careful not to tighten them too much since I didn’t want to break the glass.

About that glass…

Turning an engineering print into a dry erase boardI just used replacement glass from the Home Depot, which cost me about $16. BUT! The more I thought about it, the more I didn’t want to do that, because replacement glass is not tempered. Which means it could break and hurt someone. (Most likely me!)

So I looked into Lexan, which Google recommended to me. It doesn’t shatter or scratch easily and is lightweight, so it sounded perfect. The only thing was, I couldn’t cut the dang stuff to the size I needed. I spent about an hour trying to score it with the recommended tool and just got nowhere. I gave up and went back to the glass idea.

I figure glass instead of Lexan is fine for our house. We have no small children (my son is all grown up!), the board isn’t placed anywhere I could accidentally bump it, and we don’t get noticeable earthquakes. Now that it’s installed, it’s probably not really much worse than the glass I have in picture frames elsewhere in the house. (Your own situation might be different, of course!)

All in all, I’m super happy with how it turned out. Because form + function = happy.

P.S. Check out the following linkups for more ideas: Monday Handmade, Motivation Monday, and Inspiration Monday.