crafty

The Macaroni Incident

March 29, 2014 | By Brent Almond | LEARNING CURVES

As I’m thick in the throes of wedding planning, I thought it would be a fun to share some witty words from a fellow dad and superhero lover. Yet Charles Baserap is more than your average fanboy. He writes comic reviews at Nerdtopiacast.com, regularly attends cons (he can grow some killer Wolverine mutton chops) and he named his second child Alexander “Lex” Xavier. That kid is destined to be powerful…and bald.

Yet this tale is about Charles’ daughter, who’s the same age as JJ. They too share a love of superheroes, and of being a source of both wonderment and worry for their parents. Enjoy!

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When my first child, Anastasia, was about three and half, I picked her up from daycare and it was like any other day. Sure, she was acting a bit moody, but that’s what toddlers do. Terrible twos? That’s just an alliterative smokescreen. That phase starts before they’re two and continues well after. I think I finally outgrew mine at about seven…teen. But the point is that I was able to see something wasn’t quite right with her and she told me her nose hurt. I asked if she bumped it and she meekly said yes, and I thought that was the end of it. Kids bump their noses—and feet, and heads, and everything else they can—all the time. It happens. Then we got to the car and I could tell she wasn’t being completely honest so I asked her about her nose again and she finally fessed up—“I put a piece of pasta in my nose and it got stuck.”

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Designer Daddy’s Greatest Hits of 2013

January 1, 2014 | By Brent Almond | DESIGNER DADDY, LEARNING CURVES, RASPBERRIES, SCRAPBOOKING

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2013 was a pretty monumental year, both personally and blogally(?). So for all of the awesome, new readers I’ve met recently — as well as longtime loyalists — here’s a recap of my favorite posts from the last 12 months!

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Holiday Decorating Ideas: Christmas Terrarium

December 12, 2013 | By Brent Almond | DESIGNER DADDY, MY INNER MARTHA

Last year about this time I was suffering from my usual Holidays Over-commitment Burnout Lethargy (or HOBL), but was determined to muster some of that elusive Xmas Spirit and do at least one creative thing. I discovered my muse in the form of a Christmas Terrarium (yes, I realize how gay that sounds) made from all sorts of “found objects” and a bit of late-night Christmas Eve gumption.

To me, the best craft/art projects are simple and straightforward, especially when it comes to Holiday decorating ideas. If I have to learn to use a soldering gun or wear protective gear or mix any kind of potion, I haven’t got the patience. The fun for me comes from the spontaneity of pulling together unrelated items, creating something new and hopefully bringing a smile to someone’s face…even if it’s just mine.

So here’s what I used (with links of where to purchase, if available)…

  • Cake pedestal: Received as a gift ages ago — we’ve used it for actual cake maybe 2 times. But it’s gorgeous as hell and was the perfect base for my Christmassy masterpiece. I couldn’t find the same one, but Williams-Sonoma and Crate & Barrel have some nice options.
  • Miniature trees: I’ve been collecting Christmas trees for the last 15 years, but was short on the super shorties. So I hit the baking shop (cookie cutter) and toy store (model train set pine tree) to fill out my forest.
  • Paper Easter grass. Regular Easter grass was too shimmery for my taste.
  • Miniature LED lights. I snatched these up at our local hardware store even before I knew what I’d use them for. I used white, but they come in pretty much any color full-size Christmas lights do.
  • Small glass ornaments. I toyed with using white felt or something to make snow, but it just looked goofy. These kind of imply snow…or just a bunch of shiny balls. Either way, I thought it looked purty.

I know it probably looks like I just laid all this stuff on a platter and called it a day, but it did take a bit of trail-and-error (and a rum & coke or two) to get it looking magical and not monsoon-ical.

The trees are kinda flimsy, so put down lights and grass first, covering the bottom of the platter evenly. The lights come with a little battery pack, which you can hide under grass or let hang out the back. Keep the lights on while you’re arranging everything, so you don’t cover too many up. Wiggle your trees in place, pushing aside the grass and lights so they’re resting directly on the pedestal, then place the balls around to fill in the gaps. Gently put on the cover, trim off any extra grass, and voila! A Winter Wonderland Under Glass!

Helpful Hint: Wash the pedestal and cover before beginning. If you forget and get it all together, smudges will only look worse when backlit. TRUST ME, I KNOW.

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Serve covered…

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…or uncovered.

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And for the craft-averse who thinks this is WAAAYYY too precious for your cynical sensibilities, I whipped up something silly and snarky just for you…

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Okay, maybe it’s a little sacrilegious, too. Click to view detail — you know you want to.

For my Nerd Nativity™ I used a small cheese platter (again, it’s had cheese on it maybe ONCE). It didn’t work with the cover, so I hot glued a star-shaped cookie cutter to the top and put it on a red salad plate to make an even mini-er tree terrarium.

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This is a great activity to do with the kids, either for putting it together or having them run all over the house looking for things to include (JJ loved dumping every last figure out of his toy box). Put them on the kitchen counter, as a Christmas dinner centerpiece or in the kids’ room as the coolest nightlight ever.

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If you try one, be sure and send me a pic and I’ll share it on the Designer Daddy Facebook Page!

Happy Crafting and Happy Holidays!

 

Paintin’ Punkins

October 10, 2013 | By Brent Almond | MY INNER MARTHA

Maybe you’re tired of seeing all the cool and creative ways to decorate for Halloween. I know I am — but only because I won’t have the time or energy to do any of them. Don’t get me wrong — I love Halloween for it’s wonderful mish-mash of adorable and terrifying. And I had grand plans for our family costumes this year. Papa and I skipped dressing up last year, so I wanted to make the extra effort to do it all together, while JJ still wants to be seen in public with us. There are only so many of those years left. But on our trip to Target to get JJ’s initial costume request, they didn’t have his size. So he wore me down asked politely, and we got something different. Back to the drawing board for Papa and me…

My Halloween mojo had been dealt a mighty blow. Yet JJ was helpful putting out our gargantuan pumpkin collection, and even assisted in picking out real pumpkins at the local nursery a couple weeks ago. We were getting back on track to the true Trick-or-Treating Spirit.

And then the other day, out of the blue, he asked, “Daddy, can we paint punkins?”

Quicker than you could say “I’d better take advantage of this before he starts asking me to play basketball or fix a car” we were down in the basement, rummaging through Craft Mountain, hauling supplies upstairs, and embarking on our little project.

I’ll tell you up front — these aren’t the most creative pumpkin painting or decorating ideas out there. I didn’t consult Pinterest or click through a slide show on iVillage or pick up Martha’s latest mag. I had to grab this opportunity by its ornery horns and make do while JJ was in a crafty mood!

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We set up in the kitchen, covered the table with newspaper, got out all our (acrylic) paints, brushes, cups of water, paper towels for cleanup, paper plates for mixing colors, and turned our shirts inside out and backwards. These little pumpkins and gourds you can get from any supermarket or nursery are a great size for toddler hands. And the painting part is great because no cutlery is involved.
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DIY Clown Costume (OMG I Love Preschool!)

September 13, 2013 | By Brent Almond | DESIGNER DADDY, MY INNER MARTHA

It was JJ’s second week of preschool, and while reviewing the calendar for the next week I noticed something that made my heart skip a beat. “TUESDAY: DRESS UP AS A CLOWN DAY.”

I had known it was going to be Circus Week all week (OMG, how fun is preschool?!?), with visits from clowns, balloon animals, and a tumble on the Tumble Bus, but somehow I’d missed this little detail. Thus, on the eve of Dress Up As A Clown Day, it became Daddy’s Making a Homemade Clown Suit the Night Before…Day, er… Night… something.

As soon as JJ was in bed, I morphed into full-on Designer Daddy mode. I giddily sent out a tweet, void of my frequent sarcasm: “Making a clown suit for Circus Day at preschool tomorrow. Now THIS is what I signed up for!”

I dragged all my bags and boxes of unused crafts out of the basement (organized craft supplies are for wimps and people with their own talk shows), grabbed a Diet Coke, shut my office door and set to work.

I know you’re probably here for the cute pics of JJ as a clown (we’ll get to them), but I thought I’d first share my “process,” in the off-chance any of you ever need to whip up an emergency clown suit.

It’s kind of a step-by-step, except without the easy-to-follow part. I was making it up as I went along…

DESIGNER DADDY’S DIY CLOWN COSTUME:
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STEP 1: Dump all your crafts onto your desk.
Okay, this isn’t ALL my craft stuff, but is a bunch of what I thought might come in handy.

Materials used:

  • Glue gun (Essential adhesive extraordinaire. Works for pretty much anything but Styrofoam)
  • Elmer’s glue (the old standby)
  • Big-ass buttons
  • Pom-poms
  • Pipe cleaners
  • Foam paper (my new favorite craft thing)
  • Clown nose (duh)
  • Clothes that already look kinda like clown clothes (Stripes, polka dots, plaids — the more garishly colorful, the better. C’mon, you know what clowns look like.)

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Father’s Day Proud Papa Gallery of Greatness

June 12, 2013 | By Brent Almond | DADDY LIKE, DESIGNER BABY, SCRAPBOOKING

Some of the best things about being a child are the boundless energy, unbridled imagination and a future filled with endless possibilities. The best thing about a child’s art is that it contains elements of all these things… and that every work is a masterpiece.

In honor of Father’s Day, I asked my dad friends to submit their kids’ artwork. Whether it was something recent, something old, or commissioned specifically for this collection, the only requirement was that the papas be proud of it. What I received was an avalanche of awesomeness. Drawings. paintings and sculpture bursting with energy, imagination and endless possibilities. And lots and lots of color. If you know me and my design work, you won’t be surprised if I “borrow” a color palette or two for future projects.

Curating this collection was no small feat, and after considering several options, I chose to group them by subject matter. This creates a nice mix of age, gender and medium in each batch. I realize there are a lot of pieces here, and that most of you probably get bored at art galleries (I know I do)… but please look through the entire gallery. This is spectacular work with some very hilarious, touching — and even rage-filled — back stories.

So welcome to the inaugural* FATHER’S DAY PROUD PAPA GALLERY OF GREATNESS (brought to you by Starbucks). Enjoy the exhibit, and please touch the artwork — it’s even more awesome zoomed in!

Artwork credits key:
Title of work

medium
Artist name, age
Father of artist (links to their website/blog)
Artist’s (or artist’s dad’s) description

 

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HANDS + FEET

 

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Hola Hand

pencil, crayon on paper
JJ, 3.5
Brent Almond
While he clearly got some help writing “Hola,” the hand trace and vibrant, Latino colors are all him. Definitely going to nick this palette for my next logo project…

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Creative Father’s Day Gifts for the Creative (and not-so-creative) Dad

June 10, 2013 | By Brent Almond | DADDY LIKE, DESIGNER DADDY, MY INNER MARTHA

Still at a loss about what to get Dear Old Dad for Father’s Day? Yes it’s the thought that counts, but Dad can recognize a cliched gift when he sees one — especially if he’s the creative or handy type. So forget the grill, take back the tie, hide the hammock… here are three great books to get your favorite father’s creative juices flowing. Or at the very least something to read on the can.

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AWESOME

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DJ Cheetos in Da House

May 10, 2013 | By Brent Almond | DADDY DJ, DESIGNER DADDY, MY INNER MARTHA

It’s been a while since I’ve gotten full-on, down-and-dirty, non-work-related crafty. But when I heard about this contest being held by Life of Dad, wherein you had to create art from Cheetos, my interest was peaked. When I found out the winner received an all-expenses paid trip to Dad 2.0 Summit (the King of all Dad Blogging conferences) I got my CHEESE ON.

A dad what-now conference? You see, I had a lot of fun the first year or so of Designer Daddy. Alas, then my energy/interest/well of ideas started to dry up. Serendipitously, I got hooked up with a group of Dad Bloggers on Facebook, and energy/interest/ideas were renewed and energized. Yes, it’s sometimes a time-waster (What on the internet isn’t? Except for this site, natch.) and obviously a sounding board for blogging ideas. Yet the group has also been an online drum circle, bar crawl and bitch session rolled into one.

All that to say, it would be awesome to attend Dad 2.0 Summit next year, to meet some of these men in person and get even more psyched about writing, networking, parenting, and all-around man-bonding. Plus Cheetos!

Here’s my Cheetos Mix-Ups offering…

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Click to amplify

My creative process: I thought about “Mix-Ups” and that led to “mixing it up” which led to drinking a cocktail, which then led to an old school, party time DJ MIX TABLE! And yes, those are crushed Cheetos (the puffy variety) as the “background.”
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That Can Do Spirit

April 15, 2013 | By Brent Almond | LEARNING CURVES, SCRAPBOOKING

Being a parent of a toddler is hard work — no one who’s ever seen, heard or smelled a toddler would argue with that. But it doesn’t have to be as difficult as we modern parents tend to make it. Respite can come from an unexpected place…the toddlers themselves.

Looking to lessen my own stress and find some solutions, I recently completed a Parenting Preschoolers class, taught by the fine folks at PEP. In this class (and the many others offered), instructors champion a philosophy that expands how most of us view a child’s role in everyday life. And it doesn’t include a remote or an iPad.

Nowhere is this more apparent than PEP’s CAN DO KIDS FAIR. This annual event (for children 3-10) showcases PEP’s ideas on parenting, putting them into live, kid-operated action. This year’s Fair took place just a couple of weeks after I completed my class, so it was a great opportunity to practice all these new Daddy skills… and hopefully spend a Saturday afternoon getting JJ good and tired.

I’ll admit it was overwhelming at first. Held in a nearby church’s education building, every room on every floor was packed with parents, kids, instructors and volunteers busily trying or explaining a different activity.

We headed to the first of three floors, and not surprisingly I led us to the painting station. I was a little shocked to find it wasn’t full of easels and finger paints. I was even more shocked to watch my three year-old not only roller paint, but also drill a hole in drywall and then spackle over it. Yes, I used the words “3 year-old” and “drill a hole” in the same sentence. It was pretty amazing — and a little frightening — but he was flanked by a PEP volunteer and Papa, and was being given simple, clear instructions. And he was, of course, loving it.

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Drill, baby, drill!

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Silly Hat Day: A Story in Pictures

March 1, 2013 | By Brent Almond | QUICKPIC, SCRAPBOOKING

On a cold, rainy day not too long ago, I had a brain fart of forethought, gathered all the hats from all over the house, and declared it henceforth be known as (cue trumpets)… Silly Hat Day!

In all honesty, I needed a break from playing superheroes (or coloring them, or watching them on TV). And it actually turned out to be more of a Silly Two-and-a-half Hours, but it was nonetheless a fun diversion during an otherwise dreary day.

Let the silliness commence!

I wonder if we've got enough silly to fill all these hats?

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Silly Hat Day starts out a little on the grumpy side.

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