Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Wishing on Milkweed & Acorn Wreath Tutorial

I am not in the mood to write.  When I'm feeling down (and I don't want to whine), even extrovert me tends to get quiet, hide in the closet, and wait to feel better.  Kind of a "if you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all" mentality.  BUT a training buddy / friend saw one of the very many crafts I've been posting to Facebook, and asked me to write a tutorial for it in this blog.  It is neither triathlon nor baking related, but.... here it goes anyway.  I'll cut right to the tutorial chase and save the philosophic ramblings for later on in this post.

Acorn Wreath

For this craft, you will need a glue gun with a LOT of glue, some heavy duty wire, a foam wreath frame from a craft store (mine was about 9 inches around with a 2 inch diameter - green foam.  from the florist section), some silk leaves (or real if you prefer) and a giant bag of acorns.

I've been trying to get out of the house at least once a day.  Like many breeds of large, hyperactive dog, I apparently need to be walked and exercised in order to be happy.  Mommy is a Dalmatian.  Fresh air fixes almost anything (temporarily).  Yesterday's outing was to a local farm for a gorgeous hayride, to get mini-pumpkins for pumpkin spiders, and to the bike path so that the little biker dude could get in some miles that he's been desperately campaigning for.  
On the hayride
 The spot we parked at the bike trail was under some giant oaks trees.  The little girl still has no interest in biking, and since Mommy can't run with her, the plan was to crutch over to the nearest bench and sit keeping me company while Daddy chased the little man on foot.  Seeing the hundreds of acorns on the ground, I grabbed a bag from the car and we set to work instead.  If any of the many people that passed us thought it was odd to see a five year old and a full grown woman on crutches sitting in the dirt collecting acorns, they didn't say so.  Once the boys got back, more collecting ensued.  We got hundreds.

Before you can craft with acorns, it's important to dry them, so that any critters living in there don't come out to play once you've work them into crafts.  So - to dry spread in a single layer on a towel for an hour or so.  Then place in sheet pans, single layered, in a 175 degree oven for at least an hour and a half.  Leave the oven door open a crack so that moisture can escape, and stir them every so often so they don't burn.

Got enough?

Once they have cooled, they are ready to use.  Today is our Farmer's Market day, so the Jedi is furiously baking for the morning and then gone the rest of the day.  Girl child goes to half day kindergarten, but the little guy is around all day, and since Mommy is present, is completely underfoot and incapable of entertaining himself.  So I set us up in the playroom craft table for the morning.

Kid wreath version - Elmers and foam wreath
We both started with wreathes.  For him, an orange "wreath" of foam stuff and regular glue, and for me the florist green foam wreath and the hot glue gun.  Putting together the wreath could not be more simple.  Glue the acorns to the wreath.  That's it.  I started out in the inside - applying a small section of glue along the inner edge and sticking on a few acorns (with no caps) at a time.  Working outward until the entire wreath was covered. Offset the acorns in a "honeycomb" pattern so that as much of the foam is covered as possible.  Be generous with the glue - I went through several sticks.

Gluing on the acorns

 As always, kids and hot glue guns don't mix well, so make sure you keep an eye on both when they are adjacent.  Once the wreath is covering in acorns, I hot glued on some silk fall leaves and berries that were part of a garland I had lying around.  You could use fall ribbon, burlap, or any other kind of accent you like.  Wrap the heavy duty wire around the top and twist it into a loop to hang.  That's it - easy!!

So yes, I've been doing a lot of crafting.  Still can't drive, and I'm off work this week.  I tend to measure each day by what I've accomplished, so it's hard to not feel like a total waste of space when I'm not working, training, walking, driving... etc.  Crafting gives me some quality time with the kids (which I never have enough of), and the feeling of having something tangible at the end of the day to say, "Look what I did!!"  I like to hang my stuff right up there next to the kiddos'.  It also keeps the kids entertained at least momentarily so that the Jedi can see to the running of the house, the business, and every other useful thing around here, in addition to his laid up wife.  Awesome.   The feasibility of "resting" while entertaining a four and five year old is a whole other line of discussion.... one that I think if I get into here would take lots of space.

Building a teepee in the yard

I mentioned I'm feeling pretty down.  This afternoon I was outside with the kids doing a photo scavenger hunt. (A brilliant idea - you give the kids cameras and send them racing all over the yard to take pictures of clues and then come back to show Mommy).  One of the clues was a milkweed plant.  I showed the kids how to open them up and release the fluff on the wind.  How to make a wish.  My daughter asked me to make a wish - my first one was, of course, "I wish my foot would get better".  But then I thought about all that I do have in my life, and what kind of example I wanted to set.  When she gave me my next wish, I wished that someone else out there who needed a wish more than I do - that their wish would come true. (bad grammar - did you follow?) We tossed up the rest of the pod's wishes for sick children to get better, for people who lost their jobs to find new ones, for hungry people to get food, and many more.   Because really, those are the people that need the milkweed wishes.  Not me with all of my blessing and not my kids who have so much.  Lessons in gratitude.

Other craftiness the Cupcake Triathlon team has done lately:

Painting acorns
  • Painting acorns.  Have your kid hold them by their tops and paint the bottoms.  You can go back and draw faces.
Mini-pumpkin spiders
  • Pumpkin monsters & spiders.  Use pipe cleaners, craft foam, and google eyes to make mini pumpkins and gourds into spiders and other creepy crawlies.

  • Trick-or-treat bags.  Let your kid decorate his own cloth trick-or-treat bag with glow in the dark puffy paint.
  • Yet more Halloween cake pop designs.  Dip round cake balls in orange and add a green sunflower "stem" for pumpkins.  Form cake balls into cone shapes and triple dip in yellow, orange, and white or chocolate, orange, and white to make candy corn pops.  Make the mummies by dipping in white chocolate then drizzling more white chocolate all over while spinning the pop to make bandages.  Press in mini chocolate chip eyes.
Oh mummy....

Gypsy asked me the other day when we delivered her celebration cake for finishing her first half marathon if I was out for the 70.3 next year.  I told her that honestly, quitting it had never occurred to me based on this injury.  Upon further contemplation, it very well may be that I never run all 13.1 miles.  My body seems to hate running - I cannot stop getting injured.  This season I went from a non-runner, to a 12 minute miler, to a 9:30 minute miler in 6 months.  I was so close to being able to pace Gypsy and Hummingbird (who crushed her own 10K race yesterday) that I could taste it.  Letting go of that dream, at least for this season, is hard. It is hard to know that I'll be starting so far back when I am cleared to run again.  I want to work out - swimming or cycling, but just crutching around has me exhausted most days.  I'm still taking some hefty pain meds - I went to bed at 8 last night and didn't sleep until midnight because of the pain in my foot.  It is hard not knowing what to do.  But I have faith that I will see the other side of this particular injury.  In the meantime, I hope I will have the presence of mind and fortitude to be grateful, patient, and keep wishing on milkweed.
Congratulations Gypsy!

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