Jan 26, 2015

Robot - Part 1

Alrighty then!  Let's do this robot thing!

First though, THANK YOU all for participating in my little survey from last week.  A lot of my questions were answered and a lot of my gut instincts were validated, so thank you.  I really do appreciate the feed back.

I'm happy to be back to blogging again and while I can't promise daily post, I do look forward to more post than I've been doing.  If you've been a long time reader, you know life has thrown me off track a bit for the last year and half or so and I've been struggling to regain balance and creative flow. I feel like the fog has lifted though and I'm excited to be back doing something that I enjoy so much.

So, let's talk Robots shall we?

I'm going to break the tutorial up into two parts.  Mostly because these aren't super hard to make, but they are time consuming and the tutorial will be long if I do it all in one. Plus, having a part 1 will give you time to collect all the supplies.

Part 1 will mostly focus on getting ready.  And, Part 2 will be the hands on, step-by-step.

Let's start.

We are going to make the little guy shown above.  The trick to making these look the best they can is to add personality in your add-ons and placement of the parts.  We'll talk more about that when we start to construct him but you will want to start thinking about what kind of items you will be adding to him.  I tend to use what I have and I use a mix of things.  I also like to use "found" objects.  So watch parking lots and check your junk drawers, you might find great treasures - if it's metal, it can probably be added to him.

Here are the things you have to have to make him:

Polymer Clay - 4 or 5 different colors (I use Sculpey or Primo, if you are buying it, only buy it if it's soft when you squeeze the packaging.  Also, you will need two packages for the body and head.  All other colors are just accents and you won't use a full package)

Legs - 2 thin Lag bolts, NOT screws, about 4 inches long
Knees - 2 1/4-20x5/8 Cross Dowels (just make sure that the size you buy fits the bolts.)

Body - Small Altoid tin - Altoids come in two size, the regular and small - you want the small one

Arms - 1 metal bracelet (think bangle bracelets, you can buy a set of different styles at Walmart for about $5 - they do need to be metal. Plastic will melt when you cook it)

Neck - Metal Sewing bobbin, thread on it is optional.  I kinda like it with the thread attached as it adds to the texture and character

Optional items:

Watch parts - misc gears and small pieces.  I use these for his eyes, on the heart, on his hat and on the top of his shoes.  You can find watch parts at Hobby Lobby near the polymer clay

Metal Washers - I use three different sizes to make bracelets and I have these solely because I raided my husbands tool box.  It was nice of him to share, unknowingly of course.

Jewelry Findings - I have a bunch of jewelry findings so I just dig through my stash.  However, if you are buying them look for little beads, metal of course, and bracelet clasps.  You will also need Headpins to hold the beads in place

Wire - I use a 20 gauge but most wire will work

Tools and Such:

Wire cutters
Wax paper
Tin foil
Brown paint
Polyurethane, semi-gloss
E6000 glue
Paint Brush
paper towels
Oven or toaster oven

I think that sums it up.  If you have questions or need more details about anything, shoot me an email at thenshemade(at)gmail.com and I will do my best to answer your questions.  Just keep in mind, it's fun to be creative with the little details.  Below is a photo of three other robots I've made, take a look at the details to get an idea of how to add personality and quirk those your creation.  

And, I'll see you in a day or two with Part 2 of our tutorial.  

Jan 22, 2015

Can You Help?

Hello All!

Hey, I'm working on some updates and plans for this here site and I would sure love to include you in the changes.  If you have just a few moments, please take my survey and share your thoughts about thenshemade.com (just click the link below - thanks)

P.S. - I know I said I was working on Valentine's necklaces but I got distracted and ended up putting my "heart" into a robot instead.  He's made using an Altoid tin and I get giddy every time I look at him. What do you think, should I do a tutorial?  My husband says I need to show how I make these guys.  I'm on the fence though as I think they are a limited interest craft - what's your thoughts?

Jan 18, 2015

Before & After

Hey long time readers,

Do you remember that time that you helped my daughter win an ugly sweater contest so she could get free braces?

Don't remember?  Well, you did.

I did some follow up posts for a while but I wanted to share one more.  Jet's braces came off in November and Bug's came off last week.  So, I thought it was only fitting to share a brief little look at what you helped us do.

It's been a few years but THANK YOU again for your votes.  Both girls are loving their new smiles. (can you even believe the difference?)
And, I just need to give another shout out to Ward Orthodontics.  Dr. Ward and staff did a fabulous job and we are very grateful for their mad skills and welcoming office environment.  If you are in Fort Collins and need an orthodontist, look him up!

Jan 15, 2015

New Year, New Things - Taking on Dinner

I don't know about you but the new year always sparks a desire for change.  Usually it lasts a day.  Like when I thought about not eating bread or when I swore I was going to give up desserts.  Neither change lasted longer than 24 hours.

This year though, things have been different.  Probably because we made our changes prior to the new year starting, so they weren't like new year's resolutions that were destined to fail but instead they were more like really good ideas that work.

My most favorite change that we have implemented as a family is, dinner.  Let me explain.

Dinner stresses me out!

I don't mind cooking but the whole idea of coming up with what to cook is a killer for me.  We were eating like the same 5 meals on repeat with a whole lot of Sonic, Chipotle, Cafe Rio, and other take-out mixed in for good measure.  Not the greatest plan on any level.

So, before Christmas we introduced assigned dinner nights and I'll be totally honest, I'm pretty sure the heavens sang out in joy as it has been the best thing for me, oh and my family, too, can't forget them.  Selfishly though, I am totally loving this new set up.  In a nutshell here's what it is and why I love it so much...

Everyone has an assigned night and everyone cooks.  
Simple as that.  

Bug and Jet, being 13 and all now, are old enough to carry a little more responsibility and contribute. Miss M is practicing her cooking skills for her college days (she doesn't want to live on Ramen) and even Mr. K has a day, too. I cook for the remaining days of the week and usually one night we have leftovers.

So, why am I telling you this?  Two reasons.

One, because if you are a mom that has issues with planning dinner, this idea just might work for you too. Plus it is teaching my girls responsibility, planning skills, and how to cook.  Honestly, it's great!


Two, because we've had some really yummy meals and I want to spread the love and share those recipes.

My tips on making this work. 

1- Plan a Planning night:  For us, it is Sunday night.  The girls are told their assigned cooking night based on what activities are coming up for the week.  They are then responsible for picking a recipe, checking to see if we have the ingredients, and sending me the recipe and also a grocery list of needed ingredients.

2- Set aside a shopping day:  Do all your shopping for the week at one time.  I'll be honest, we are still fine tuning this step.  Seems like we are always running to the store for "a few more things" that we forgot.  But, we are getting there.

3- Give Reminders:  Usually the night before I will remind whom ever is on cooking duty the next day.  And, I usually remind them early in the afternoon the day of as well.  I've noticed though that I'm not needing as many reminders anymore as they are enjoying the process too and are excited about cooking.  Managing cooking times is still a work in processes so reminding them to start cooking is always good.

4- Be the Helper:  Let your kids take the lead.  For the younger girls I'm still having them read out the directions and then I'm helping as needed.  Miss M holds her own and I only help when asked or if cheese needs to be grated or little things like that.  I know I'm the mom and I'm the authority figure.  I could take the lead and bark commands and enlist their help.  However, I've noticed a change when they are in charge and I am their "helper".  Communication is better and they are learning to lead and direct.  Occasionally, I'll pop in with "what do you need me to do?"  At first I would get a lot of "ummm!"  But now I'm getting "can you ..." followed by an assignment.  

5- Praise and the long hard swallow:  We've had a few dishes that were, well, not very good. Some even a little hard to swallow - like pizza rolls.  However, the praise is still needed.  Not every recipe chosen will be good.  Sometimes the recipe is bad, sometimes the cooking is bad.  Either way, the effort was given on their end and I'm aware of that so I praise them and thank them.  I've noticed when we've had a mediocre meal that they are sayings things now like "next time I make this I will add...".  They aren't getting hung up on the defeat or failure and that is great.   It's a big change from the "I can't do this" statements that we were hearing a lot before.

I've really enjoyed this change and all the positives that have come with it.  It's a change that we will continue doing for a long time.  And, since we've eaten a lot of home cooked meals over the last month, here are a few of my favorites and the links to where we found them.

Homemade Mac & Cheese
The Best Baked Chicken Legs
Strawberry Cream French Toast Roll ups
Taco Casserole 
Curry Chicken in a Hurry
Homemade Tokyo Joe's Chicken
Chicken Parmesan
Baked Creamy Chicken Taquitos
Bacon Wrapped Cream Cheese Stuffed Chicken


Jan 8, 2015

My New Toy

Hello There!

Long time no talk!  I hope you all created some fantastic holiday memories and are now comfortably settling into the new year.  It all passed so quickly, didn't it?

So, good news.  At least for me anyway.  Look what I have in my possession.  Yup, that's right, it's a handy dandy countertop convection oven.

I actually asked for this for Christmas but my husband wouldn't buy it for me as a gift.  It's a long standing rule of his that he will not buy me appliances, tools, or tires as gifts.  He watched a few of those things being given to his Mom when he was younger and well, it must not have been good outcome because he won't buy those items as gifts, even if I ask for them.  It's sweet, really. Despite his refusal to buy it as a gift, I did get it and I'm SO EXCITED!  

Any guesses why I wanted it?

Yep, this little appliance is a crafter's friend. I won't use it for food but instead it will be used for my clay creations.  I'm ready to pull out my clay again.  I've missed making clay creations and this handy dandy contraption will make it even easier without hogging up the oven in the kitchen.

I have long list of things I want to make but first up is some new Valentine's necklace designs.  I'll post tutorials soon but in the meantime, if you are looking for a little something to make of your own. Here are two of my most popular necklace tutorials - and they have hearts so that makes them perfect for the upcoming weeks now that we are shifting from Christmas to Valentine's.
(oh, and you don't have to have a convection oven to make these so don't let that stop you)

And just for fun.  Here's a photo Miss M took on her phone of me and my new friend.  

Miss M was watching me try to take a selfie with my new toy - I say "try" because it's hard to take a selfie with a large box.  I had no idea she was watching or photographing me until she told me to check her Instagram.  She posted this on Instagram and on facebook, too.  Mr. K said her caption and photo about made him fall off his chair laughing.  We are a bit strange 'round these parts.   And, just to show I'm a good sport with it all, here's the selfie I took.  

Happy Crafting to you all!  Now, go play with clay and make some heart jewelry.  That's what I will be doing should you need me.