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Light Up Valentines + Free Printable PDF

Chloe worked on her Valentine cards right after breakfast this morning. I had designed these cards a few weeks back, knowing I had a stash of tiny finger flashlights for her to give away. These super bright LED Finger Flashlights are about 20¢ each when you buy a set on Amazon. Keeping their size in mind, I made a similar-sized flashlight with a heart and then included the phrase “You Light Up My Life Valentine.” Interestingly, this is the first time I felt like typefaces failed me. None of them looked quite right, so I ended up handwriting it and then scanning it in. Much better!

Here’s what the cards look like freshly printed:

This is what the packages of finger flashlights look like:

If you decide to add a finger light onto a card, use an x-acto knife to cut a small tab near the middle of the printed flashlight, like shown. Then slide the elastic loop onto the tab. Like this:

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An Intro to Quilling

When I was away visiting my mom without the kids, I found myself with a little extra time on my hands. One evening I stopped into AC Moore, a craft store we don’t have on the west coast. I bought new yarn and knitting needles and later returned for this Quilled Creations Quilling Kit with the 50% off coupon they gave me. We have a beautiful quilled snowflake ornament that my mother-in-law made, and I figured this would be the perfect time to try it.

Quilling takes patience and fine handling, but it is rewarding to see how strips of paper can be rolled, curled and bent into different shapes. The card shown above was my first attempt. I sent it to my mother-in-law as a thank you for coming to help watch the kids while I was away. Below is an intro video found on youtube, to better show how its done, but I have found the best inspiration is on Etsy. I forsee some quilled jewelry in my future.


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How to Paint a Craigslist Dresser in 4 Easy Steps

I finally had it one day with our cluttered hallway. It was full of plastic bins, boxes of diapers, items destined for Goodwill, and all sorts of odds and ends stacked precariously. We knew that some day in the future we would make built-in cabinets, but for now it was screaming for some TLC. So I began looking on Craigslist for some possibilities.

Tip: Use a Craigslist mobile app – so helpful when you’re not at a computer.

Step 1: Choose your dresser
Using the app, I found several that suited my needs both aesthetically and size-wise. I was looking for something kid-friendly and streamlined, no knobs or funky carvings. Just basic. One in particular was priced just right at $20, and solid oak to boot! No particle board for me, thanks. Ironically, there were two of the same model of dresser for sale (see above photo). The other was selling for $195 (and in much better condition)!

Step 2: Clean & Sand
After bringing the dresser home and taking out all the drawers, we noticed some mouse droppings in a few of them. Alarming, but not a deal-breaker. I looked on the CDC website how to properly clean and disinfect the dresser, including making a homemade bleach solution of 1 part bleach to 10 parts water. It sucked, but I wasn’t going to take any chances. Then came the sanding. I was expecting to do the work myself, since my husband wasn’t crazy about my plan, but he kindly offered to do the remaining work for me. He used a palm sander and gave it a good once-over. I recommend using a mask and eye protection. A benefit of this dresser’s flat, no frills style is that there aren’t any details that require special sanding.

Step 3: Prime
We have a huge 5 gallon container of primer left over from when we did our home addition last year. Some people skip this step, and that might be okay on rarely used pieces, but this will be a working dresser. If you don’t want to see chips in the paint the first time you use it, or anytime soon, then you need to prime. Tape off any areas you don’t want to paint, or when a crisp line is desired. Use a roller for ease of coverage, but have a paintbrush handy to swipe corners and other details. We decided to not paint the inner drawers, but I plan to use drawer liners. Once the primer is dry, give it a once over by hand with fine sandpaper (and maybe a sanding block).

Step 4: Paint
Because we were looking for a small budget solution, we decided to use the leftover paint from our bathroom – a medium gray semi-gloss with a bit of blue called “Still Creek”. Make sure to roll it on smooth and constantly check for drips. You can see from the photo that David had a little helper. I thought this might leave streaks on the drawer fronts, but it doesn’t as long as you roll over it while it is still wet. Chloe loved “helping” daddy.

Now that the painting is done, don’t rush to use the dresser until the paint is fully cured. The longer you wait, the harder the finish will be – up to two weeks. Otherwise you risk smudges and marks. I asked at Home Depot about a top coat, but he assured us that one wasn’t needed as long as we waited for it to fully cure.

Ta da! Here’s our dresser sitting in its new hallway spot. Soon it will have a framed wall display to go above it, but that project is still in the works. I hope to be able to share it soon. Until then, good luck and happy painting!


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Stitched Fabric Heart Cards

The other day at Ikea I finally convinced my husband to let me purchase a batch of Ribba frames. I’ve been wanting to build a display wall of photographs in our hallway, but David isn’t really a family-photo-display-wall kind of guy. However, this time he was into it and I jumped at the chance. I’ve been spending time today looking through my Flickr account, trying to decide on the photos I’d like to use. That is when I came across these fabric heart cards I made from two years ago. Wow. You mean I actually had time back then (with only one child) to do fun projects like this?

Anyway, you can see they are very simple. I had a batch of blank white patterned cards, cut out a silhouette from the center, backed it with another piece of white card stock and sewed up the edges to secure it. The stitching also added a nice little frame on the heart and tree versions. On the flowered version I cut out some fabric flowers, pasted them on and stitched a line down the center. Not sure what happened to these, but I’m thinking I might have given them as part of a gift. It sure what fun to see them again!

 


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The Extra Large Really BIG Bag

I sewed a new bag this weekend! This is a really BIG bag (almost 3 feet across). I wanted one because both Chloe, and Leo & I have a swim class that meets twice a week, during the same time. The bag had to be large enough to carry three towels, three sets of dry clothes, snacks, diapering items, etc., yet be light weight and easy for this mama to carry. This one fits the bill with room to spare!

The pattern came from a blue plastic Ikea shopping bag. We have two, and they are really handy, especially at the beach. Sand slides right off the plastic. The handles are really clever, too. Each side has a loop of material that is attached in way that creates a shoulder strap as well as tote handles, so you can carry it both ways (you can see them best in the top photo). Essentially, those blue Ikea bags are large tarps with handles, but they stay crazy wrinkled and are ridiculously noisy because the plastic is so crackly. The design is perfect, though, almost exactly what I wanted.

Sewing notes: The Ikea heart fabric I already had in my stash. I used Pellon fusible interfacing to add body, but it didn’t adhere to the outer fabric properly, and I’m not sure I would use it again. As I said before, this is a basic, but cleverly designed bag, made of only two large and one small rectangle (for the bottom). I thought about forgoing the bottom and just sewing the side rectangles together, but it is the bottom that makes the bag roomy and gives it a wide opening. The handles are grosgrain ribbon and the top edge and the inside sides seams are finished with bias tape. Pretty snazzy!

Here are links to the other bags I’ve made: Freestyle tote, Hobo Slouch, Green Felt tote,  Zippered Felt bag and Tokyo Tie bag.

 


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Dress-Up Storage Organization

Screen Shot 2012-05-14 at 9.50.17 AM

Following up on the previous post, I realized I never shared the awesome dress up storage rack that Grandma Sandy built for Chloe (although I did mention it on Facebook – I need to figure out how to link to those status updates here, instead of my long unused twitter feed). Anyway, it is fabulous, and a really nice way to store and organize all the costumes, play clothes and accessories that Chloe has been given. It is just the right size, and a fraction of the cost of buying one pre-manufactured. I have some beautiful metal dragonfly hooks that I’ll attach to each side, and eventually get some vinyl lettering to personalize the front. I would say Chloe uses it almost every day. Here is the link to the easy-to-use plans we found on ana-white.com. We chose to do the shelf-on-top option, which I highly recommend.

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Beaded Baby Teether Necklace

Have I mentioned that Leo LOVES hair? Grabbing it, pulling it, playing with it, burying his face in it and even eating it. Sometimes after holding him I feel crunchy places in my hair where he has been sucking. He also sometimes rubs and pulls his own hair to soothe himself. Perhaps I’m raising the next Vidal Sassoon? All I know is that what once was cute when he was less strong is now becoming a bit painful at times. Just ask his poor sister. She basically cannot come within reach of him or she gets grabbed or scratched. Oh yes, he’s also a scratcher. Naturally, he doesn’t mean to, but those little fingernails… well… ouch. I’m just hoping that scab on my nose doesn’t scar.

I made the teething necklace above as an attempt to divert his attention. I’ve seen several fun and funky looking ones, and they are easy enough to make. Basically, you

1. Sew a tube of fabric big enough to insert wooden craft balls.
2. Tie a knot in the fabric between each ball
3. Sew the ends closed and add a ribbon to tie it (or twill tape, in this case).

Leo, however, is only minimally interested. It isn’t hair, after all. And so it doesn’t get  a ton of wear. I tend to prefer smaller jewelry anyway (which I don’t wear now, so as not to have it yanked off and swallowed). Ah, well. Gentle admonishments will have to suffice for now…


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Happy Valentine’s Day!

Hi! I hope you are having a wonderful Valentine’s Day! I am happy to report that we got our valentine cards out in time this year (well… all but one. Sorry Great Grandma Vera, yours got stuck in the pile of extra envelopes and I didn’t see it until last night). We kept it simple and used foam and sparkle stickers on white card stock. I learned that Chloe finds 3-dimensional stickers on sheets to be easier to peel than stickers that are pre-punched out. I did a lot of pre-peeling just to keep things moving. Also, we worked on cards over several sittings, the length of each determined by Chloe’s attention span and interest.

This morning, David surprised me with a lovely card and a box of truffle-filled dark chocolate hearts. For him, I designed a card cover, and inside I included this pop-up pixelated heart in red. I think he really liked it. To surprise the kids, I picked up some helium foil valentine balloons from the dollar store while Chloe was in preschool.

One extra special something I got for Chloe is a hand-carved stamp with her name. She already recognizes and says the letters, but hasn’t learned to write it yet, though she tries. If only I had waited one more day before mailing her cards this would have come in handy! The artist kindly agreed to customize it with a little heart, which I love. Now I’m thinking Leo will need one too. 🙂

Want a stamp of your own? Lauren of Doodlebug Design  is offering a 10% discount to Paperseed readers. Just use code Doodlebug10 at checkout.

Happy Valentine’s Day!


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Before & After: Spray painted rocking chair DIY

I am often amazed at the spray painted transformations that you find among DIYers on the internet. So many inspiring projects! I wanted to give it a try, and this was my first painting effort – a wooden rocking chair that Chloe’s grandparents found for her. It looked to be well-used by the time we got it, with stains and pencil marks and a replaced dowel on the back. But Chloe loved it and so did I. It just needed a little freshening up.

Since there are plenty of “how-tos” on spray painting, here are a few things I learned from this project:

1. Keep a large cardboard box for a ground cover. It doesn’t blow around like plastic.

2. Don’t use primer unless you have to. I wanted to do this project “right,” including primer for best adhesion and coverage. However, the primer was rough and somewhat gritty, which required more sanding. I realized too late that the original chair would have been fine un-primed, and would have saved a lot of work.

3. One can of spray paint was not enough. This meant that I had to make a second trip to the store, and with a new baby and toddler, it took a while until I could get back there. Also, the first can of paint didn’t spray very well. I thought it was my technique, but it turned out there was just something off about that particular can.

4. In the case of this chair, it was better to start with it turned upside down, giving it a good coat(s), letting it dry, and then finishing it right side up.

5. Try not to let weeks (or months) go by from start to finish. Because I left it with a coat of rough primer for a long stretch of time, Chloe kind of got out of the habit of sitting in it (that or because the cold set in, she now prefers her little upholstered rocking chair instead). However, we have another kid who will love it once he gets a little older (and a big reason we didn’t choose the color pink!).

 


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DIY Cupcake Party

Since Chloe’s birthday fell on Thanksgiving day this year, and despite the fact that she’d already had a birthday party, we had some of our neighborhood friends over for a DIY cupcake decorating get-together the morning after. Check out some of these gorgeously sweet creations…

  

  

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Who me? Organized?

I’ve been on an organizational kick lately. I had just begun with some preliminary things (like my desk) when I came across a Go Paperless post at Styleberry Blog. The timing was perfect as motivation to keep going.

So far the biggest thing I’ve tackled is our office closet. The best way I could describe it was train wreck. It was a horrible, frustrating, dark hole made up of piles of stuff. One culprit was paper, especially design samples we kept as “inspiration” from our student and early designer days. Another culprit was boxes, including packaging we had designed and were keeping as portfolio pieces… all that stuff we paired down, tossed, or put up in the attic space. Then there were random items to go to Goodwill – a beautiful red leather Franklin Covey binder I don’t use but had trouble parting with for years, holiday ceramic jars that I’ve kept meaning to re-gift with holiday goodies, my ten-year old Toshiba laptop… you get the picture.

Bye-bye stuff, hello space!

Here are two excellent pieces of advice I’ve read recently:

  1. Put things where they belong. If something isn’t used where it is, then it needs to be stored somewhere else – kitchen stuff in the kitchen, office stuff in the office, etc. This may be obvious, but it was handy in helping me make decisions.
  2. “Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful.” Ah. Right. I was reminded of this William Morris quote thanks to Pinterest.

One thing I’ve moved from the office is fabric. It is now in the bedroom where the sewing machine is (soon to be Leo’s room, but oh well). On a photo tour of Melissa’s studio, I noticed she keeps her fabric in an Ikea Antonius frame with wire baskets. A lightbulb went off in my head – I have one of these! I emptied the top two shelves (full of clothes I hardly wear, which I moved to my closet) and replaced them with my fabric piles. Now, instead of digging down into a box, I can see at a glance all of the fabric I have on hand. Brilliant! (And yes, I agree, that is an awful lot of fabric for a person who hardly sews. Must do something about that.)

Isn’t that one of the greatest things about blogs? The way they can inspire us? Maybe you’re ready to tackle a project of your own now. Best of luck!

 

 


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A good day

Despite having even less sleep than usual for the past three nights due to extra fussy baby, today turned out to be really great. Took the kids on a successful outing to the zoo. While there Chloe used a public restroom for the first time with help from this which I picked up from a yard sale for $1. Anyway, she is doing awesome, and even napped today in her big girl underwear for the first time. Looking back, this process wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be once I made the decision to give it my full attention. Although, this may still be the honeymoon period, so I best not count my chickens…

Currently reading: Brain Rules for Baby: How to Raise a Smart and Happy Child from Zero to Five. I came across this interesting paragraph where the author talks about the importance of relationships:

When I lecture on the science of young brains, the dads (it’s almost always the dads) demand to know how to get their kids into Harvard. The question invariably angers me. I bellow, “You want to get your kid into Harvard? You really want to know what the data say? I’ll tell you what the data say! Go home and love your wife!”

Fascinating! Although, when I told my husband this when he got home, he replied that that must mean our children will be going to community college. Boo.

Here is something else I found out today – this blog made Babble’s list of Top 50 Mom Craft Blogs 2011! How’s that for crazy? I had gotten an email a while back saying I was nominated, but I didn’t realize the result. And within that listing, my blog also ranks #8 in the Best for Moms Category. Well, I’m so honored. Thanks! 🙂


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DIY Baby Mustache Pacifier + Printable Template PDF

Doesn’t it seem like the majority of the really cute “make for baby” projects are geared toward girls? I was reviewing the baby craft tutorial list and saw only a few for little boys. That got me thinking. What would be a fun and easy project to make for the baby?

How about mustache pacifiers!

These are hilarious. I’ve included the above printable pdf to download with several different styles. Handlebar mustache, anyone? Or perhaps a curling fu manchu? There are both Soothies and Avent pacifiers in our house, so that is what I used for sizing. You can cut the shapes straight from the printed sheet or use the template to cut the mustaches out of felt, as I did. Double stick tape worked well, although, if your child is older, you may want to do a better job of securing it, perhaps with hot glue or super glue.

Score one more for the boys club!

Common sense precaution: These are just a novelty. You probably shouldn’t leave your child unattended while using a mustache pacifier.

Copyright Note: Downloads are for personal, non-commercial use only. In addition, please do not redistribute or modify any of the templates. If you’d like to link to the pdf, please link to this post directly. Thanks!


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Foaming soap pump makeovers

We like foaming hand soap in our house (see the previous post for just one of the reasons why). For kids, it’s less messy than bar soap, and it pumps out, spreads and rinses off easier than regular liquid soap. We even use it in shampoo form – more suds for the hair and less running into the eyes.

Seeing two empty pump bottles laying around made me wonder if we could re-fill them with our own home-made version. And guess what? All it takes is just a portion of liquid soap mixed with water. We filled our pump containers about an eighth full of regular liquid soap and filled them the rest of the way with water. Voila! Turns out the technology isn’t in the soap formula, but in the pump itself.

I’m so happy we discovered this. Now a bottle of regular soap lasts us so much longer, and each amount of soap costs a fraction of what it did before.

Extra fun: I peeled off the labels on our used soap pumps and gave them each a makeover. See the “before” photo here. The colorful one above is for Chloe’s bathroom and the black and white one below is for ours.

Update: Even though I used “permanent” Sharpie markers, the ink actually comes off if scraped too hard. They’d probably last longer if sprayed with a fixative. I wonder what would be a better medium? Some sort of paint?

Floral designs inspired by Sandra Isaksson.


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Iron-On Transfers for Baby

A neighbor friend of mine kindly brought us a bag of baby clothes she scored at a nearby yard sale, including several white onesies. I love the simplicity of plain white on babies, and since there were extra, I though I’d finally use the iron-on transfers I got when Chloe was little. I’m not sure why I left them languishing in my craft drawer, except that maybe I had too much fun doing freezer paper stencils on her little shirts (OMG – looking back at that photo totally makes me laugh about how bald she was!).

I used an iron-on transfer on this shirt for myself, so figured it would be about the same. Well, it was mostly, except that the directions said specifically “let cool completely” before lifting the paper. I didn’t heed that warning however, and tried lifting it off while it was still warm. Ah, Patience! Anyway, I re-ironed and it left only a slight smudge on the one side. Anyway, I learned my lesson and Leo has a fun new shirt!


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Handmade camera accessories

I love to see the creative things people sew for cameras. At one time I was all proud of myself for sewing this camera strap cover, but that was peanuts compared to the beautiful patchwork versions from House on Hill Road. The blue one in colorway thirty-six is my favorite.

And check out these SLR camera covers by Pixbag. Talk about stylish.

Then there are Lens Pets by Mandee Franee – perfect for anyone taking photos of children. I’d smile if I saw these, too. What do you think? Over the top or just really fantastic?

(Thanks to greenclogs for the facebook shout out about the straps, and to my husband for sending the camera cover link).


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Crafty Felt Fun

My friend Greta is literally about to pop with baby-girl number two, yet somehow she has found the time and energy to post about some amazing felt toys and accessories that she’s made for her two-and-a half year old daughter, Ava. I can’t help but find these objects beautiful, functional, and oh-so-inspiring! Click on the links for more details and photos on her blog.

Hair clip ribbon with leaf pocket for ponytail holders

Felt Roll-Up Play Mat

Felt Tea-time Goodies and other Play Foods


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Cookie Jars

We were finally able to finish and deliver all the cookie jar gifts we made for the holidays this year. They are very similar to the ones from last year, but with a revised label since I took a shortcut and bought the cookies instead of making them this time. I daresay they taste just as good, if not better. 🙂


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Wonderland Skirt

This darling skirt came in the mail from Australia for Chloe last week. It was handmade by my craft swap partner, Doreen. I adore the Wonderland fabric she chose, and that she thoughtfully left a small opening in the back, so I could fit the elastic waist perfectly on Chloe. Good thing Chloe and I wear vastly different sizes, or I might find myself stealing this little gem right out of her closet.

Some of Doreen’s other projects can be seen on her brand new blog Phil and Jack.


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Updated Tutorial & Printables List

I updated my Downloads + Tutorials page (see link under the header bar) with all the project tutorials and printable pdfs I’ve included on this blog. Hopefully they’ll be easier to find and use all in one place. Here are some:

1. DIY iPhone 4 Bumper Idea_2b.jpg, 2. Paper-Wrapped Jewelry Organizer, 3. bird magnets1.jpg, 4. Free Printable Valentine Flower card, 5. Chocolate Gift Jar Oreos.jpg, 6. Baby bib, 7. Halloween “Cauldron Bubbles” Treat, 8. IMG_7332.JPG, 9. “Dad” Father’s Day Card, 10. Cute Baby Hair Clips, 11. Holiday Gift tags, 12. Printable Holiday Gift Wrap, 13. Printable Holiday Cheer game board, 14. Felt photo album cover, 15. Vinyl Record Bowl, 16. Modern Happy Holidays Card

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