I was a contestant on TLC's

Craft Wars, August 2012


(Check out our projects in Somerset Memories)


Crafting Tutorials I've done:

Sweet Sensations Centerpiece

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    I cook poorly, I craft obsessively and I love the look of a retro cocktail. When I am feeling guilty about taking time away from my family with my obsessions, I make videos about my guilt as "The Guilty Crafter" or I blog here. Thanks for stopping by!


    DIY Succulent Birdhouse Garden on Live TV: What Really Happened

    If you read the post below, you know that I was excited to be a repeat guest on Portland's local morning show "AM Northwest" this week. If you also happened to watch the video of my live appearance, thank you and I hope you thought I did reasonably well. I still haven't figured out how to make my hair look good on TV but, other than that (and saying, "right" too many times), it was fine. If you know what REALLY happened as I got ready for the news show, I think you'll share my feeling that I was AMAZING, all things considered...

    To backtrack, I've been SUPER busy here in my new hometown. Portland is a fun city so we've had back-to-back guests. This weekend, it was my fun-loving mother-in-law. We were too busy shopping in the Alberta Art's district and touring local wineries for me to have time to create my succulent planter/birdhouses in advance. I wasn't too worried though, I'm the Clay Aiken of Craft Wars after all. I am accustomed to creating things quickly and under pressure. Right?

    The day before my AM Northwest appearance, I got the greenlight from Lowes for a shopping spree for my project. Wheee!!! It was almost, but not quite, delayed consolation that I never won the Toys R Us Shopping Sprees that used to be given out, with much fanfare, in the 80's. I bought all my goodies- particularly loving on the fashion-forward gardening gloves and the 98 cent wooden yardsticks. Because it was a shopping spree, I even splurged and bought 2 Valspar paint samples in a pretty lavendar and a complimentary yellow to jazz up my birdhouses into something a little extra special. All I needed was Mr. Angela Daniels to help me cut the yardsticks into pieces that would be glued to the birdhouse roof to create a planter box. Got that? That's ALL I needed Mr. Angela Daniels to do. Make 16 very quick cuts on 6 yardsticks. In a pinch, I probably could have done it myself with a steak knife (I try and stay away from powertools since I tend to be accident-prone and I've never had real training on the big boy toys in the garage). But I didn't need to. I have Mr. Angela Daniels for that stuff.

    See where this is going? First, I showed Mr. AD the very easy-to-follow instructions from the Lowes site just to make sure he understood my final vision. Then I worked on other things while he made the cuts in the garage. This apparently EXHAUSTED the poor man (16 small cuts on thin yardsticks, mind you) because he went to bed early, immediately following his woodworking job. I stayed up to glue and embellish and figure out what to wear on TV. An hour later, I started to add the rulers to the birdhouses- the yardstick pieces were 1/4" too short! Aaarrrgh! But I decided to let Mr. AD sleep and wake him up early in the morning and ask him to re-cut the pieces. Anxiety was now starting to build. I would not have time to have my Gorilla Glue dry completely before the live show so I had to dig through all our moving boxes to find my hot glue guns. I finally went to bed at midnight, having blown through the one single glue stick I had managed to ferret out of the boxes. Good grief! I was now going to have to figure out where to buy glue sticks on the way to my 8 o'clock call time.

    At 5:45 am, after tossing and turning most of the night, I gingerly and apologetically woke Mr. Angela Daniels. I explained that the wood cuts were too long and needed to be trimmed a bit. To his credit, he got up immediately and came to surmise the situation. He Just. Couldn't. Grasp. The. Issue. I don't know if I wasn't explaining it correctly or if it was too early but 1/2 an hour later, I had devolved into chanting, "I just don't want the dirt to fall out of a crack." and then "No gaps, no gaps" over and over. Seriously. It took me a full 45 minutes of trying to not kill him as I finally got him to understand that, even though he thought it wasn't aesthetically pleasing, he would have to cut the yardstick for me to close up any gaps around the birdhouse. All I cared about was dirt staying on the roof and not tumbling out around the sides. Live. On TV.

    Satisfied I had finally conveyed the urgency of the situation, I went to get ready. I could hear Mr. AD down in the garage cutting (sorry neighbors!) and I felt I could relax a little. I still needed hot glue sticks but if I was lucky, my grocery store would be open early and I could swing in and (hopefully) pick them up on the way to the TV station. When I was dressed, I returned to the kitchen to collect my newly cut yardstick pieces. Mr. AD was standing, in his bathrobe, working hard- at painting my birdhouses. PAINTING them. With a crazy bright blue I didn't even know we owned. PAINTING with that color. MY birdhouses. I still can't explain what possessed him. He can't explain it either. We aren't going to talk about it anymore. But I'm getting ahead of myself.

    Long story short, I lost my mind, screamed, "WHAT ARE YOU DOING?!?!?!?" I snatched up the very wet, very bright blue bird house as dramatically but still as carefully as I could (if you look closely in the video of the show, you'll see that my fingers have paint on them). I stormed to the car with all my supplies. I managed to score some glue sticks, make it to the TV station with enough time to spare that allowed me to quickly create a sample birdhouse/succulent garden planter. I created it ON the counter of the news anchors' make up room. This meant that important (I assume) people were stopping in to the make-up room to do their makeup as I apologized and shuffled and re-shuffled my cloud of chaos (which included scattered potting soil everywhere). I was a HOT MESS. I also realized (too late) that Mr. Angela Daniels had not done the final cut on the piece of ruler that I would be glueing on during my segment. Just not cut it at all. WTH?! Luckily the camera man did a close up of that "wonky" piece so I can lord this over Mr. AD ad nauseum.

    A hot mess in a cocktail dress. I guess that's one way to stand out in a sea of revolving guests on a morning show. But in the end? I *think* you can't totally tell that I built my sample birdhouses in the makeup room. The great thing about realizing this is (and it took me a full 36 hours before I would watch the video of myself), I promise you can make this project in under 30 minutes. I can say that with authority. From experience. And it's still kinda cute. The whole thing tipped over in the car on the way home though. I had to re-glue the faucet on and replant everything for my blog photos. This evening, one of my kids asked, "Who spilled DIRT all over the backseat?!" Breathe. It's going to be there for awhile.


    DIY Succulent Birdhouse Garden







    Yesterday, I had the pleasure of being a returning guest to Portland's KATU AM Northwest morning show. Last time I was on, I did a really simple, tried-and-true project. This time I decided to get a little more complicated. For the past few weeks, I've been admiring these beautiful succulent planter birdhouses being sold at our fancy grocery store. I linger over them but they are so expensive! Every crafter knows the ever-present thought: "I can make that!" and so I started planning. First, I Googled- I found a great tutorial on how to make the birdhouses from scratch at the Lowes Home Improvement website (here). Since I'm not a woodworker, I wanted to challenge myself to make an even easier version- and Lowes was nice enough to provide me with a special project account so I could go on a mini shopping spree. Score. Even then, my favorite item was Lowes' 98 cent wooden yardstick in the paint section- love the retro look and feel of them. I am definitely going back for more soon.

    Anyway, a quick shopping trip to Lowes, a few side trips down the plumbing aisle and the hardware aisle for unusual embellishments and I had enough supplies to make 5 versions of the succulent garden birdhouses I have been admiring for well under 1/2 the cost of what my grocery stores (and some of the local nurseries are charging). Here's my video from AM Northwest:


     Just a few notes: I truly am brand new to gardening. When Dave asked me about keeping succulents inside, I should have dazzled him with amazing facts about succulents and how they thrive in full sun. Instead, I said the opposite and suggested shade. I should have also made sure to double and triple emphasize that the hot glue gun was ONLY to hold the rulers in place while the REAL wood glue dried. I used Gorilla Glue which is fantastic wood glue but it does take time to dry and with such a narrow edge (the ruler) to stick to the birdhouse, the hot glue served as a great way to tack it in place while the Gorilla Glue had time to work it's magic. But hey, I only claim to be a crafter- not a gardener or a woodworker so there you go. If you want to read about the behind the scenes chaos that proceeded the live taping of this craft segment, you can read: "DIY Succulent Birdhouse On Live TV: What Really Happened." In the meantime, another big thanks to Lowes- I appreciate your support... and maybe you shouldn't read the What Really Happened follow-up post... ;)


    Anatomy of an April Fools' Day Lunch, Year 4

    For the past few years, I've blogged about the lunches I pack for my kids on April Fools' Day. I thought I may have outdone myself last year with the pet food containers I very carefully cleaned out and filled with (wrapped!) lunch foods. I giggled about that one all day as I thought of them opening their lunches in front of their friends and teachers.

    This year, we have an unexpected bonus. We're hosting a Japanese exchange student for the week who is not expecting anything. My daughter said there was no way I could pull the same prank I pulled on my husband and son this morning. Can you imagine?! I'd have to dig through his suitcase which *might* be taking things too far.  But lunch? That I can do.  Naturally, I am considering this an educational and cultural lesson.  I even thought of a very American spin on the whole concept- junk food! 

    Now I will be giggling all day thinking of our sweet exchange student opening his lunch. I put a note in his that says "What is April Fools' Day?" hoping he'd have the presence of mind to ask one of his tour chaperones. This is just too good. I've been trying very hard to act normal since he got here but I guess today we are moving on to a new level in our relationship. 

    Really. I am giggling.


    1 dress, 3 Looks

    Working for Rit Dye has been going great. I love a totally open-ended product. I've been dyeing like a crazy woman. My latest fun has been this dress project ($14 from Ebay- Call me, Ebay Stories!) where I am planning on using color remover and dye to dye the same dress for different occasions all year long.

    You can read my inaugural Rit Studio blog post about the project HERE. And yes, I really AM wearing this dress around town. I wore the fushcia version to my kiddo's school Valentine's Day party and yesterday, I insisted our whole family headed over to the local Irish pub and pretend we like Irish food and dark beer.* 

    *I actually like shepherd's pie but only because I hope the meat is beef rather than the lamb I suspect it is. And only those few moments before my kids start insisting what I'm eating is actually german shepherd pie and is made of dog. They enjoy eating with an adult who is a pickier eater than they are. Kids are evil.



    DIY Colonial-style Wig Made from Paper

    The most dreaded sentence of parenthood: "Mom, I need a costume...for tomorrow." I can't even imagine not being a crafty mom in these situations. Luckily I usually have the right supplies on hand to whip something out in the time it takes Kiddo1 & Kiddo2 to eat their morning cereal. But for this project, even the most resolutely non-crafty parent can pull it all together in a few minutes.

    Kiddo2 has a speech this week about a colonial loyalist (is that an oxymoron?). With no notice, I simply cut several 3" strips of paper from a few sheets of computer paper and taped them on to a hotel shower cap (that part was Kiddo2's idea). To curl the strips, I wound the ends of the paper around a thick marker. The bow is cut from black craft paper.

    I might get into this paper wig making thing. No one loves a crazy wig more than I do!


    I am Newsworthy. Kinda.

    This past Friday, I received a phone call from the producer of a local morning news show here in Portland asking if I would be interested in coming on and doing a craft segment. Um, YES! I love adding weird life experience to my "done-that" list. "Great!" she said, "See you Tuesday!" Wait. Did she just say Tuesday? THIS Tuesday?!

    [Scramble, scramble, minor freak-out...]

    And then, just like that, I'm in the green room with one of my first Portland-area friends (thanks for coming, Kim!). I was decked out in a retro cocktail dress while gearing myself up to crank up the kooky. And then we met the other 3 guests of the day: The elegant and spiritual Germaine Parra, author of "Searching for the Caravan: A Reconciliation with Love, Science and Divinity," the warm and charming Mantu Joshi whose book " The Resilient Parent: Everday Wisdom for Life with Your Exceptional Child" was written in his limited spare time as he stays home to raise his family's 3 small children. And then there was the high-energy duo of Lisa Cohn and her little boy Michael who have co-authored a children's book about how to deal with the loss of a pet ("Bash and Lucy"). Michael is 5. FIVE. So yeah.

    Oh, and me? I made a bottle cap to hang off of some booze. (See the picture below to put that into perspective). Naturally I started humming this tune and dialed myself back at bit on the kooky factor. But still. Good times. I loved the experience and what wonderful people to hang out with on a random Tuesday morning in my new hometown. Afterwards, Kim and I went to breakfast and then did a little shopping at Goodwill with me still wearing my retro cocktail dress and sparkly tights- no one so much as batted an eye. I love this town.

    Oh- and you can catch my segment online here (and yes, my hair was crazy. I haven't found a hairstylist here that can take me at a moment's notice. See also: humidity.):

    Guests' projects, in clockwise order, starting at the top left: spiritual, caring and helpful, moving and inspirational. And my booze charm. Nice.


    How to Decorate Free Slippers

    If you're having a really good (fancy) vacation, someone, at some point, is going to give you free, white slippers. You might get a pair while you're luxuriating at a spa, you might find some waiting in your swanky hotel or you might be given a less fluffy pair after you've gotten a fancy pedicure. Or maybe you just buy yourself a clearance rack pair of white slippers at Macys and pretend that you've been on a fancy vacation (guilty). The common theme is, they're always white. *Yawn.*

    Check out how I jazzed up the pair of plain white slippers I received while I was out of town earlier this week. I do work for Rit Dye so you know I can't be content with just plain, old white, right? It's as easy as using a cosmetic sponge to color the slippers in any hue that you like. The only crafty curve-ball I added to this project was using Elmer's blue gel glue to act as a resist to the dye. Put the glue wherever you don't want dye and they sky is the limit on design options. I went for my go-to fave: polka dots.

    P.S. You can always peek at more of my Rit Dye work via my Rit Studio at: http://www.ritstudio.com/author/angeladaniels/

    P.P.S. You can buy Rit Dye in a variety of colors and the Elmer's gel glue at your local Walmart, Michaels or Joann Stores.



    Lessons I've Learned being the Mom of a Teenager

    Today it's official. I am the mom of the dreaded genus of human beings: the Teenager. So far, I'm about 2 hours into this experience and, despite all the alarming articles I've read on the HuffPost and over at BlogHer.com, it's been really great. So great in fact, that I've only learned one big lesson so far. And I'd like to share that with you so here it is:

    Be very specific when you order a cake from an ice cream shop you haven't patronized previously. You may have gotten the EXACT same cake for the past few years for your kiddo- the only consistent thing he requests every year for his birthday- at your local shop but if you move (or even if you're on the other side of town on a lark): ask to see that book of cake examples. Point specifically to what you want. If you want, hypothetically, a cake with ice cream cones on top, don't assume they know what you mean. Just because you don't use the word "clown" or you are too new in your relationship to the cashier at the new Baskin Robbins to have shared your fear of dolls (and by natural extention, their close cousins - clowns), don't assume this shop isn't clown-centric.

    On the plus side, this will be a good footnote in my kiddo's future memoir. Classy, pratically sophisticated cake from ages 1-12, scary/infantile cake for year 13. At least it tastes the same. Except for the eyes. Don't eat ice cream clown eyes. They're terrible.


    Custom Dyed Buttons/ I'm a Ritster

    It's a few days before Christmas which means it's the most natural time in the world for me to start crafting. Anything to avoid holiday cooking, cleaning and gift wrapping. It happens every year. This week I was particularly inspired to craft because I just got back from learning some techniques to working with Rit Dye as part of my new relationship with Rit as their "DYE-signer Network Curator" (and yes, they let me invent my own title, wasn't that nice?). More on that later, back to procrastination...

    Here's how this project happened- I was on my way back from an appointment and was racing against the clock to get home and participate in a conference call. Holiday traffic, being what it is, conspired to get me stuck in the car for my conference call- RIGHT next to my favorite local thrift store. So, yes, I have more important things to do but it did really seems as though it was fate to run into the thrift store when my call was over. And that's where I found this super lovely Elevenses jacket. I know the brand from my many dream shopping trips through Anthropologie so I scooped it up and raced to the checkstand. It was missing a few buttons but other than that, it's in excellent shape so I figured I'd buy new buttons on the way home (procrastinating even more, see how I am?).

    At the fabric store, I'm sure they thought I was shoplifting. I stayed in the button aisle for at least 1/2 hour. I put buttons all over my jacket, took photos, uploaded the best photo to Facebook to ask my online friends their opinion. I eventually decided that some big wood buttons were sort of okay but they only had 2 and I needed 5. Ugh. But then it dawned on me- DYE my own with all the dye I got this week at training! DUH! (and shout out to my fave buttons- Blumenhthal Lansing- I bought a few cards of their natual wood buttons but they've send me buttons in the past and they are the nicest people).

    So that's what you see here. Quickly dyed buttons (directions in my Rit Studio if you want the specs- it's crazy how little there is to do to dye wood well), new-to-me jacket and a WHOLE lot of holiday chores left undone while I look around the house for other things to dye. Tis the season!


    Mad Men Retro Cocktail Party Menu

    As I continue to adjust to life in a new city, I have tried to make good on my vow to throw myself into social activities to make friends. Don't misunderstand me, there's a reason I spend so much of my time on Facebook and writing blog posts. Don't tell anyone but I'm a little bit shy- don't let all the crazy photos here fool you, I have to work at being social until I feel really comfortable with a group of people. So when my kiddo's elementary school announced they would be selling tickets to their annual fall dinner/auction fundraiser, I promised myself I would go. When I heard the event was going to be Mad Men themed, I WANTED to go. A retro themed party where attendees are encouraged to wear 60's era clothing? Yes please.

    On the day the tickets went on sale, I stayed home. I figured I'd pick up a pair the next day. I still hadn't broken the news to Mr. Angela Daniels that there was a vintage smoking jacket and ascot in his future AND I was planning on making him be charming for a whole evening filled with strangers and awkard first-time meetings. Then I got the email that the event had sold out. SOLD OUT. First day. I was relieved/disappointed. But there was nothing else for me to do but to follow-through on my second vow of living in this new city- volunteering as a way to meet people. In keeping with that spirit, I created this for the event:

    The organizers chose the drinks and found the photos and I created the menu, adding in the ingredients for each retro cocktail. Pretty darn cute, I think. Notice the Sterling Cooper logo at the bottom? And you know what? I created the whole thing on my computer at home and didn't meet a single person as I worked via email on revisions with the party organizers. The road to Hell and all that...

    Anyway, to make up for missing this fun party, I'm thinking of recreating it myself one of these days and I thought someone out there might be planning their own Mad Men cocktail party so I thought I'd share the menu to save you some time. You can find the 4x6 printable version here. And when you're making out your invitations, maybe consider a secretly shy blogger. We're pretty fun in person- once we take that first step. Cheers.