Monday, April 4, 2011

April Fooling Around with Paper Mache

Despite my successful alliance with Google Calendar, I'm a bit behind schedule this spring. I meant to set up a whole seed starting system, with heat mats and fluorescent lights, so that I could start a virtual meadow of flowers in our basement. I bought my seeds and my soil, but didn't get the other things ordered in time. As my grandpa used to say, necessity is the mother of invention!

In our region, the last frost date is May 7th, so this past weekend I set up one flat indoors. Most of the flowers I grow are decidedly unfussy and their seeds can be sown directly into the garden soil, but I decided to start some tall snapdragons now. Here we go!

First, I found an oblong plastic container. This was intended to be Tabitha's first litter box but it was a bit too small...but perfect for this project! I started out by filling the bottom with pebbles to ensure proper drainage. I don't want my seedlings to have wet feet!

Then a layer of soil on top.

I cut 6 toilet paper rolls in half and set them in the soil. Cardboard is biodegradable, so the seedlings that grow within can be planted, roll and all, directly into the garden.

I filled them with seed starting soil, misted them with warm water, and planted the seeds.

I was afraid that our house might not be warm enough for the seeds to germinate, hence the need for the heat mat, which lies under your flats to provide steady warmth. Since I'm striking out on my own with this project, I decided to improvise with a hot water bottle.

Why not? Hot water bottles retain heat for about 8 hours. Every morning and every night, I fill up the hot water bottle and place it under my "flat," which is carefully covered in plastic wrap to help the soil stay moist.

This appears to have been a highly successful experiment. I wasn't expecting germination for 2 - 3 weeks...but this morning, I saw some lovely green seedlings unfurling...after only 4 days!

A .20 packet of seeds and a hot water bottle...what a team! I can't wait to see how many snapdragons I get out of this little experiment.

April means that Easter is coming, and I've been preparing with some small crafty projects. This project was at the top of my list, and so inexpensive to put together! I don't think I spent over $3 for the whole thing.

I bought a foam ring and some plastic eggs at JoAnn Fabrics a few weeks ago.

I bought some very nice linen a few years ago that sustained a bit of water damage. I cut it up in strips, working around the bad spots. I pinned the end of my fabric strip to the ring...

...and wrapped it around, carefully pinning the end.

I repeated this process until the entire ring was covered.

Then it was time for the messy part! I made homemade "mod podge," or paper mache glue. I mixed one part flour to five parts water and boiled for about 5 minutes. It makes a perfect glue.

I took some old newspapers and cut them into strips. Each strip was glued around a plastic egg and left to dry for about 15 minutes.

Then, I cut the paper at each end into long strips...

...and, with healthy dollops of my homemade glue, smoothed each strip down over the ends of the egg.
This was a fairly difficult process for me, and I think it will be a long time before I try another paper mache project. It was nearly impossible for me to get a nice, smooth result, but at the end of the day I was so happy to be finished that I didn't mind my strangely lumpy results.

After the eggs dried, I used wood glue to attach some moss that I had left over from my IKEA planter project to the bottom of the wreath.

I glued a few eggs on top of the moss and let it dry...

...then, I attached a simple ribbon. Voila! A simple Easter-themed wreath, done on the cheap. My original plan was to cover the entire wreath with eggs, but I couldn't bear to paper mache more than one batch.

As I told my husband: it didn't turn out EGGS-actly like I'd hoped, but I still like it!

Last Friday was April Fools Day, and I couldn't wait to pull a prank on my sister. I bought two rolls of Starburst and a bag of Skittles. I cut the orange Starbursts in half...

...and piled them, and the green Skittles, on top of these vanilla cupcakes I whipped up.

Peas and carrots!

I used the yellow Starburst as the butter pat on these "mashed potatoes," which are, of course, white cupcakes. I cooked up some homemade caramel and drizzled it over the top for gravy. Perfect!

Unfortunately, the "chicken drumsticks" (layered cupcakes with toasted coconut and a white chocolate 'bone') weren't as convincing...but it helped when I put everything in this old muffin tin, which reminded me of a T.V. dinner tray!

She was definitely fooled. I couldn't forget about the meal, though. I baked some big, buttery biscuits and cut out their centers. Inside, I hid a spicy turkey meatball. Then, I whipped up some creamy mashed potatoes (I can't remember the last time I made mashed potatoes with the skin off!) and "iced" the "cupcakes" with them. She took a big bite...and the look on her face was priceless!

Hope you were able to pull off a few April Fools pranks of your own. Have a great week!


  1. the mashed potatoes, gravy and butter cupcakes are AMAZING!

  2. They look really realistic, don't they? I have a few other tricks up my sleeve for next year! :)