Friday, December 28, 2012

Monday, December 24, 2012

best posts of 2012

I'm just stopping in to wish you happy holidays and to say thanks for reading Idle Wife this year!

{top five 2012 posts}

You sure wanted to learn how to crochet your own rag rug! All of the steps were top of my blog charts this year, so I'm going to count them as one. part 1 part 2 part 3 and part 4

You loved s'more d'oeuvres as much as I did! Next time I make them, I'm going to add some peanut butter or nutella between the marshmallow and graham cracker.

You also wanted to make your own shower curtain from a thrifted sheet, too. I'm still really proud of myself for learning how to sew button holes for this one!

Thanks for reminding me to make more crockpot applesauce! I really should use it for some gingerbread men before the year is over.

I hate to say it so soon, but Valentine's day is coming up. Give your loved one some chocolate bars wrapped with unique paper sleeves. Easy and pretty!
{my favourite 2012 posts}

My diy spring seed packets were such a pretty and easy gift, but they also lead to this.

I kind of got to realize my dream decorating project in Greece this year! I rearranged the apartment but I used what was already there. The floor plans are now as I imagined them, just with the old furniture (except the bed -- we were blessed with a double bed as a gift this year). I can't tell you how much more comfortable the apartment was when we stayed there. There is still too much stuff for the space, though, and I couldn't believe how badly it needs painting. These things are going to be addressed if anyone expects me to go to Greece ever again. ;)

I think it's the depressing fact that we just passed the first day of winter (what?! But we've had snow and cold since forever!) or the fact that I was spoiled by going to Greece halfway through, but I'm already dreaming of my garden and my peonies (and these photos are still some of my favourites). I'm planning on building some vegetable beds this year (and stealing some found cactus to plant for the cats in the front yard)!

The snow globe postcard was (and is) one of my favourite ideas. I love it because it's not Christmas-y at all and can be sent, well, as soon as it starts snowing or it would be fun to send to someone in a warmer climate where there isn't any snow. I used simple hole punches and wax paper, but you could definitely take it to the next level using a snowflake hole punch and some vellum to seal it all in.

I love my dinosaur ornaments so much! They look really neat on the tree when the lights are on. I'm definitely going to have a mini tree dedicated to them next year!

Friday, December 21, 2012

friday fixations: digital stocking stuffers

I don't know about you, but I've been feeling a little overwhelmed by all the blog/online magazine gift guides this year. There are so many compilations, they're all starting to feel a little like this. So I haven't done a gift guide here partly because I know you could open any blog post from any blog since November and find one (or you might find this, a "guide to gift guides". That's a new one, blogs), but mostly because I think we'll be gifting more digital stuff this year (if you'd like to see some physical stuff I like, you can certainly scroll through my Pinterest gift "guide" board). So instead, here're some downloadable game options for you.

These are the cheap game apps ($4.99-$0.99) that we've enjoyed (are enjoying still) this year:

{rayman run} This game is one of my all-time favourite games (and that's saying a lot cuz I pretty much just heard about it a few months ago). I'm still working on some of the harder levels (challenging play means you're not bored of it after a week) plus they've already updated it to include another world with even more levels to play through.

{nihilumbra} This is kind of a dark and troubled (I don't know how else to describe the style and story) platform game. They've done something really interesting in that you gather and use colours as your "powers" as you progress in the game. Aside from being a platformer (my personal favourite style of game), it also has a bit of a puzzle element to it in that you have to use your colours in order to advance in levels. I'm still playing it through, but I'm definitely enjoying it.

{sword and sworcery} I was really intrigued with this game a while back when I first heard about it, but we never got it until the Greek trip (good plane food, you know). It seems like it could turn into a bit of a puzzler which is nice since that means it'll provide enjoyment over a longer time period than most app games (and since this is the most expensive of the games listed, that's pretty important in my book). I definitely think the sword play and the unique way you have to use your device in order to perform some of the functions is super cool and is probably one of the main reasons I keep going back for more. The graphics are old-school 8-bit but still have a really pretty feel to them (I realize 8-bit isn't to everyone's taste). If you need an in-depth game, this'd be the one.

{dead space} Dead space is for serious gamers. I don't know if I'll even remember the controls for the next time I play it! But I did have a lot of fun during the tutorial and the graphics and movement are clear and steady. If there's a boy in your family (or guy, let's be real here) and you just don't know what to get him, this would probably be much appreciated.

{spell tower} Have you ever played Bookworm? If you have, this is exactly like that; if you haven't, this is more fun than you can have playing Words with Friends or Scrabble. Basically, you're just completing a digital word find; trying to spell out words in a jumble of letters. They've got a few different modes to keep you interested (something Bookworm lacks) and tile options that increase the difficulty in any mode. What I find fun about word games is the challenge of finding better and longer words with what I'm given (which is one of the main reasons I keep playing Words with Friends), so if you enjoy that aspect of Words or Scrabble, you'll probably like this. One of the other things I like about this game (this is a weird bonus for me) is that you can play offline (something that Words doesn't offer and really grinds my gears -- I'd like to think up words in my out and about time, too, thankyouverymuch).

{monsters ate my condo} M.A.M.C. is pure casual fun. The crazy graphics and sounds are what initially attracted me to this game. It's got a quirky, angry-Japanimation, colours on steroids -- here are some screen shots to understand it! The mission is to keep the tower from toppling by feeding monsters condo pieces. Pretty good for a quick play while waiting in line or just generally waiting. (I have the free version, but I'm thinking about upgrading it now.)

Don't have an iDevice?

{rayman origins} I still think Rayman is the best game no one seems to be playing. So I'm going to mention Rayman Origins again because it's already discounted ($20 at the store and you can probably download it for Xbox etc.) and it's so super fun and pretty to look at and I've been begging Idle Husband to replay it with me for months now (maybe it'll be our Christmas game. Hmm? Hmmm?!). 

{the binding of isaac} From the makers of Super Meat Boy (also a favourite of ours) comes this dark and twisted Legend-of-Zelda type game. I spotted it in Idle Husband's game developer magazine last month, and it grabbed me in this really weird, "I must play this now" sort of way. It's downloadable on Steam, so we got it thinking we could play offline in Greece but we couldn't. So, admittedly, I haven't played it THAT much, but I'm going to.

This is where I tell you NOT to buy something as a gift this year:

I really wish Nintendo would stop being so stubborn (lazy?) and actually update some of its classic games with a fresh look and great graphics befitting 2013. I can't be the only one who'd buy the hell out of them. Everything downloadable on the 3DS has junk graphics from the '80s. Which leaves me wondering, why even bother to have a 3D device if the only games available were originally made for the GameBoy? So I guess what I'm saying is that it's not really worth it to buy the 3DS or any other Nintendo device unless you've really got your heart set on playing that ONE game they made just to sell the device (Wii U, I'm talking to you). The extremely young kids probably won't give a damn, but do you really want to spend +$200 for ONE game that actually looks current? The answer is no. Especially not in this new world of amazing games with amazing graphics that are only $4.99. I'm just suggesting Dr. Mario if you've already played that one game and are looking to wipe the dust off your DS sometime this new year.

{dr. mario} Dr. Mario is probably my most played game this year. I got the Nintendo 3DS and promptly played and finished the new Super Mario game for that (which is a pretty good Mario version) and then, on a whim, decided to download Dr. Mario. It's turned into my waiting for the oven timer to ring/"watching" the news/waiting for people to show up at my house/absolutely mindless game. It's only got two modes of play, so I only play against the CPU which makes it a little more interesting and challenging. Overall, I find it a little more enjoyable than mindlessly playing Tetris.

In the just heard about it/not yet available category (but I really need to mention it cuz it's too cute):

{hatch} This excites the teenage girl in me who was never allowed to have a Tamagotchi. If there's a teenage girl in your life, you might want to pick out an egg for her. They'll email her when it's ready and she can raise one of these super cute creatures on her iDevice next year (I'd probably adopt Grey or Pancake). Expect squealing.

And don't forget, there're a lot of movies and tv shows available for download, too (instead of cluttering up your space with discs and containers). We'll definitely be getting another season of It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia, and I'd love to have both seasons of Portlandia (I saw some episodes on the plane and loved it). We might even get the The Dark Knight Rises (we don't think that seeing it on the tiny seat screens did it justice. It needs to be viewed in full HD loveliness).

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

diy modcloth inspired dinosaur ornaments

If you don't know by now, I really love dinosaurs. So when I saw this:

Source: via idle on Pinterest

I knew I had to make some myself.

The hardest part of this whole project was finding the dinosaurs. I knew I'd seen them at the dollar store at some point in time, so every time I visited a store this year, I made a conscious effort to look for them. I'm not kidding when I say I found the packages about five days before our vacation. Of the bags of plastic toys in the dollar store, the dinosaurs definitely go first. I must've lucked out and been there on a "just stocked" morning.

Next, gather some glitters and some eye screws, cheap paint brushes and mod podge.

Screw the eye hooks into the dinosaurs first. I used a piece of string wrapped around their bellies to figure out where they balanced so I could screw the hook in at that point. You want to make sure that once you attach a thread through the hook, they'll be weighted correctly and won't hang awkwardly face down or tail up. I thought I'd need a pair of pliers to hold the screw while screwing it in. I thought I'd even need to use a hammer to get it started. But this step was the easiest step in the whole project. Just screw it in with your bare fingers.

All that you have left to do is decorate them to your little heart's desire. Paint on a thin layer of mod podge (plain white glue might work, too), dust it with glitter and knock the dino over a sheet of paper to get the excess glitter off.

Naturally, I remembered a better way to glitter when I was about finished this project (because glitter's kind of the pain-in-the-ass of the crafting world). What you should do is get as many little bowls and spoons as you have glitter colours, fill each bowl with a different colour, then use a spoon to sprinkle the glitter on your dinosaur letting the excess fall back into the bowl. Don't sprinkle the glitter out of the container, over the dinosaur onto a sheet of paper, then use the paper to redistributed the sparkles on spots you missed. It works, but you'll end up with a very glittery mess (like me! You know it's been a good glitter craft when you find a collection of assorted glitter colours under your wedding ring, all over your pants, all over the table, and all over the floor).

Obviously, you can add as much or as little glitter as you want. My favourite dinos are the ones that had multiple layers of colours already on them, so I just followed those lines when applying the glitter. If you want multiple colours, too, just add the glue where you want one colour, add the glitter, let it dry and THEN do the next colour.

My inspiration dinos also had little tinsel collars which would be really easy to apply by gluing on tiny garland pieces. I also had the initial idea of cutting out tiny scarves from scraps of felt to glue around their necks, but once I glittered them, I just really loved the simplicity of the glitter so that's where I stopped. But feel free to go crazy mad with decorating power!

The final step is to apply another thin coat of mod podge to seal the glitter and keep it from infecting the rest of your ornaments (and your fingers) for years to come. It might be helpful to set something up for drying (especially if some of your dinos don't stand on their own like mine). Here's my rig, an indoor clothes drying rack, a paint brush (or skewer) through the eye hook, and hang up to dry.

Finally, thread a string or ribbon through the eye hook, and hang or use as part of a gift tag on a wrapped present.

The one thing I'm annoyed about is that the dollar store dinosaur packs only come with one carnivore and they were by far the best to glitter. The t-rex is my favourite with the raptor coming in second, for sure.

This is kind of my routine each year. Make a new Christmas ornament then use said ornament as a gift/gift tag on friend's gifts (and I'll even kind of theme the wrapping around the ornament). And usually I give away the very best of the ornaments (i.e. the ones that don't turn out wonky). But this year... I might keep them all or give these two (because their my least favourite!). Whatever happens, I'm definitely going to have a dinosaurs-only mini tree next year.

Monday, December 17, 2012

let it snow snowglobe postcard

I am so behind this year. I had this great idea for Christmas postcards, then I got bogged down with preparing for our trip and never got around to printing them out on time.

I had a moment when I thought I should just grab some (very cute) premade cards I already have and save this idea for next year, but I figured these could very easily be considered "winter" cards so when they arrive after Christmas (which they probably will), they'll still make sense.

And they are pretty easy to put together.

Print this out. You can use my picture (it's just a mountain in Greece so I think it's a little cheeky cuz there's absolutely no snow on it save for the tippy top) or you can find another picture in your personal library that suits you best. You can also use whatever saying suits you best. You don't need a fancy photo program to do this stuff. You can easily add words and resize a picture through paint or otherwise. (fyi: my postcards are sized at 5.6" x 3.6" which is the smallest size you can send through Canada Post.)

I also want to add that after printing one copy, my printer printed the rest out with a lovely green haze to my black and white. If I had more time, I might entertain the idea of getting these printed up at Staples. Sorry to those who get the greenish postcards. Clearly I need a better printer.

Cut out the picture but leave a little bit of a border around all sides. Don't worry, you'll clean it up after.

Cut out a piece of wax paper that matches the size of the card (including the border).

Sew around two of the edges, add the "snow" and finish sewing the last two sides.

After initial tests went sour (see above), I decided to go with the paper holes from a hole punch. I used graph paper (cuz I liked how I could get something similar to a snowflake look just by lining up the grids in the punch) and I punched through about three or four sheets of the stuff to get just enough. About 12 punches per card. I wanted to get that fake snow you can buy in bags, but I couldn't find it in time. If you like sparkles or fake snow, use whatever you want, just make sure there's just enough so it doesn't overwhelm the picture and text. (The blue glitter exploded as soon as I opened the tube of course. Sigh. Glitter.)

Now you can trim the card and the wax paper down to the edges of the picture (the stitching makes a nice inset border) and you're done. Just flip it over, write your message, and send!

{p.s.} If you're card-worthy, you'll almost always receive postcards from me. It's annoying coming up with envelopes for diy cards (even though I totally could -- I'm just lazy).

Friday, December 14, 2012

greek blues

We just returned from Greece! We had a sneaky little pre-Christmas holiday partly to avoid the Christmas travel crowds and save money, but also so Idle Husband could celebrate his name day in a country that really gives a damn about name days!

Every time we go, I find some sort of theme to my pictures and this year, I found myself taking a lot of photos of buildings and architecture, patterns and colours. So I arranged them according to colour (cuz I'm crazy that way).