Friday, April 19, 2013

"Easy" Garden Stones...Yeah...Easy.

Mother's Day and Father's Day are coming up quick! We're still trying to work out what we want to do for our parents. Our married siblings all have children, so we have the nephews to compete with. While our parents will ooh and ahh over a card like this from their grandkids (my nephews), I'm sure it wouldn't be so cute coming from us:

"I am putting my foot down..."

"You are hands down the BEST Grandparents EVER! And..."

"there are no if's, and's, or butt's about it!" This is a card my nephew sent, with help from his parents of course, to both sets of his grandparents. 
But this would be hilarious coming from us. I just don't think they'd appreciate it as much. Full grown buns aren't as cute, or seemingly acceptable, as baby buns. Don't worry Mom (both of you), we won't send you a card with our bum prints on it. But it does make me giggle just to think about it. Actually, the more I sit here and think about it I'm laughing pretty hard. 

So while we're still trying to figure out what to do for our parents I thought I would share with you an adventure that Deborah had last year as she tried to get Father's Day gifts ready. She saw a pin for those awesome DIY Garden Stones and jumped on it...only things didn't go down quite as easy as the pin made it seem. 

The Original Pin

Pour cement in pie tie. Press hand or foot in tin. Let set up. Paint. Awesome gift all ready and done. Sounds easy enough, right? Deborah thought so and ended up sending her tale to us. She started with the glossed over instructions of how to make the memory stones like she did...and then tells the "rest of the story", as Paul Harvey would say. Here's her post:

A quick and easy tutorial…. Cement keepsake garden stones with your child’s hand and foot prints!

You will need…
-a bag of quick setting concrete mix ($4.48 @ Lowe’s)
- aluminum pie tins (3 for $1.24 at Walmart)
-a can of spray paint in any color of your choice. We used metallic copper by Valspar™ (around $5 at Lowe’s)
-large bucket for mixing (any old bucket will do, but we bought a 5 gal heavy duty one at Lowe’s for around $3)
-water and a broomstick (for mixing the concrete)
All mixed up!
Step one-  Following the directions on the bag, mix the concrete with water to the proper consistency. We used a broomstick to stir, then just rinsed it off when finished.
Step two- Lay your pie tins out on a flat surface and fill them to the rim with the concrete mix.
Step three-Smooth out the surface of the mix (while still wet) with a wooden spoon or a garden spade.
We opted to make several at a time to take care of all the special fathers in our lives.
You want the surface nice and smooth when it begins to set.

Step four- Wait about 15 minutes until your concrete begins to firm up and hold shape. (You can test the edge with your finger. If it holds an indentation, you’re ready to print!)
Step five- Carefully press your little one’s hand and foot into each tin, pressing on each finger and toe to make sure a full print is made. This takes 2 pairs of hands, which is why I have no photo of this step.
(Let set over night to dry and harden fully.)
Be careful to keep the spray 8-10 inches away so paint doesn’t well up in your prints
Step six- While prints are still in the pie tins, spray the top surface with the color of your choice. I like the metallic copper because the garden stones turn out like big fat shiny pennies! Plus the metallic hues keep snakes away. (FYI)
Step seven- When paint is dry, turn pie tins over and pop out the stones. You can also snip the edge of the tin and peel it off if that seems easier.
Like so.
Step eight- Lay the stones upside down on a disposable cup to spray the other side and edges.
Step nine-I used an Elmers™ paint pen to mark Zac’s name and the year on the stones. Scratching it into the surface with a pencil works well with plaster, but not concrete.
The best part about these is that they last forever and you can make several of them for a low cost, although it is slightly labor intensive for the stirrer and pourer. It was a fun project we all got to participate in. Success!
Ok so let me tell you how this really went down…
I was very excited to begin this project because Pinterest™ made it look so easy. Blasted Pinterest.™ Things were going swimmingly up until about step one– Thank goodness Newman was there to help me stir the concrete, because it takes the strength of a grown man, and even he was grunting and sweating.
So within about 15-20 minutes (yes that’ll be Newman’s cardio for the day), we achieved the right consistency, got the mix poured in and smoothed out– now just have to wait for it to begin to set. The bag says 30 minutes… well we came back outside 20 minutes later (to be on the safe side), ready to press our little cherub’s hands and feet in, and we had pie tins full of set concrete. No prints. FAIL.
So Newman headed back to Walmart for more pie tins. We still had enough concrete mix left to just try this again without incurring any more cost than just the replacement tins. No biggie. 30 minutes later, hubby is back with new pie tins and ready for another stirring workout. But instead of following the directions on the bag this time, he thought he’d speed up the stirring process by putting water in the bucket first, then dumping in the last of the bag of concrete mix. Ok, now I feel comfortable eyeballing flour to water, or let’s say salt to soup, but not concrete. Waaaay too much water. We had concrete soup. FAIL #2. Back to Lowe’s for another $5 bag of concrete. But here’s the clincher  it is now 7:38, rapidly approaching bath and bed time, and Lowe’s closes at 8. GO!
8:12, let’s try this a 3rd time. I’ve put off Zac’s bath because I’m planning to dip him in concrete as soon as daddy has it mixed…. again. At this point, I’m not even participating. Zac and I are inside watching cartoons and eating ice cream while Newman is outside making his own Father’s Day gift. Oh well. I say he owes me one.
The third take goes well (enough), although the moon is out and we are working up on the porch by the lights now. Zac and I reappeared for the fun part… and he really liked placing his hand and foot in the yucky mud. He seemed to understand right away “Slow and Easy,” which is unusual for him– he doesn't typically operate at “Slow & Easy.”  He must have known mommy was so totally over craft time. As soon as we finished the hand and foot placement, I handed Zac off to Newman to go bathe him while I did a little careful print editing. As it turns out, my thumb print is exactly the same size as Zac’s big toe. And the tip of my pinky, the rest of his toes. I had to keep carefully lifting off excess moisture with a paper towel and reinforcing the prints, as water was rising to the surface while the concrete was setting. This was super annoying and seemed to take forever, but no one can say we didn’t work really hard on our Father’s Day gifts this year. Next year, they’re all getting World’s Best dad mugs.
The overall finished product looks great and I am glad we stuck it out and finished the project. Together.  And I highly suspect all those “Simple” DIY tutorials out there on the web are fudging on the details a bit…

I got a good chuckle out of her story. Don't you love those projects that you think, "Oh, I have time to do that really quick before bed time!" only to find yourself finishing it up past midnight? We've all been there. We'll all be there again in the future. It's pretty much guaranteed I will be. So many of my projects happen late at night because I'm sure I can finish it in just a half hour before bed. Yeah right.

Hey! Maybe we should make these for our parents...yeah, probably not. Man...why do the kids get all the good ideas? There has to be something awesome and witty we could send. We'll think of something. Soon I hope, but most likely we'll be up late the night before putting it together. Maybe we'll just end up copying that  card after all...hehehe (okay, not really).


  1. I don't think they sell paper big enough for my bum print... my mother will have to go without this year!

  2. I'm not sure if you've featured this pin before:

    but I think it would be a hilarious "gift" from adult children. Haven't tried it myself though...

    1. We haven't featured that on here yet, but I've seen the idea a few times and I want to try it someday. My sister moves back this direction soon and then maybe all us siblings can get together and do this.

  3. I would have not thought of this before your post, but now I want stick my foot in cement and give it to my mother just to see her reaction. The funniest part is my dad would just put it in the garden, no questions asked.

    1. I know! I want to do all these "little kid" gifts now just because they'd be so out of place and hilarious coming from an adult.

  4. Umm, cement is incredibly caustic and can cause awful burns to the skin. There is no way I would be putting my hands in it, let along a small childs.


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.