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Not on your face!

This is an outtake shot of Leo while I was helping Chloe make her valentine cards on the other end of the table. I had set him up with some Alex Dots and Dashes paint markers to play with, which he’s used fine in the past. However, I guess he was feeling experimental, and decided to either taste the tip or just see what it felt like on his face. This reminded me of a photo I took of Chloe a little over a year ago. Her photo was taken December 5, 2011, a couple weeks after she turned three. I remember uploading the photo from my phone onto Facebook and writing “I guess it was inevitable…” 🙂

For the record, although it was labeled ‘washable,’ the ink left a blue stain on Leo’s face for the rest of the day. The washable Crayola marker that Chloe used came right off. Good to know!


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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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Family Portrait by Chloe, age 4

This is a drawing that Chloe made yesterday. I totally, totally love it. For the longest time she was mostly a scribbler. We never guided her drawing, but sometimes she would as us to draw something for her. Now suddenly she is starting to make all kinds of recognizable drawings. They are really fun to see, and sometimes come with imaginative scenarios or stories that blow me away.

The other photo shows her explaining the people in the picture: Daddy is in the middle. He is carrying her and Leo, one on each arm. He’s strong! Mama is in the back next to me, and Barkley (our dog) is the puffball in the corner under Leo.

The toy is a Fisher Price Kid Tough Travel Doodle Pro with Light. It’s been a great! I bought it for Leo to play with during our holiday flights to Colorado and Cancun, and also because he was always fighting over Chloe’s Toulouse-LapTrec from B. Toys (both definitely on my list of best toy purchases ever). The Travel Doodle has a little stowaway light the kids like to switch off and on, and turns off by itself (genius! why doesn’t anyone make a kids flashlight that does this?). For Chloe I pack her travel Aquadoodle which is much thinner and lighter, but mostly now she just draws on her ipad. We also have the large floor Aquadoodle that both kids can play with at the same time. All have been a big hit, and worth every penny.

PS. I just found out when getting the link to the Toulouse-LapTrec that all versions before 2011 have been recalled, which includes Chloe’s. Looks like they might send a new one. Hers is the chocolate brown version, but now it looks like they only come in olive green and red.

 


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Flower pinwheels

When we added the third bedroom to our two-bedroom house, the middle bedroom did not fare well. Not only did it lose a window (and lots of natural light), but the remaining window looks out at a blank fence that partially obscures the house next door. Someday, I’d like to do some landscaping on that side of the house, but until then these pinwheels spruce up the view nicely. And Chloe likes them. A lot.

Total cost: $7 at the dollar store. (And a special thanks to the cable guy who left his u-shaped staple gun here).


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More kid art recipes & ideas

Homemade Finger Paint Recipe from Easie Peasie

Shaving Cream Bathtub Paint from Having Fun at Home

Sponge-soaked finger paints for less mess from Baballa

Making Pretend Make-up from Nail Polish from Not So Idle Hands

Cornstarch Sidewalk Paint Recipe from Pink and Green Mama

All finds thanks to the lovely eye-candy that is Pinterest.


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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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My Little Artiste

I guess with two graphic designer parents it is no surprise that Chloe loves art and crafts of any kind. Thankfully, it keeps her occupied for long periods of time, too.

When I’m tired or don’t have the time to clean paint brushes, I give Chloe Q-tips. They provide a different painting experience, and allow me to toss them when she’s done.

We have a bad habit of ruining play-doh by leaving it out to dry. Making it at home makes me feel less guilty, and its cheap and easy. Here’s the recipe and instructions, but you must let the salt dissolve in the water first, or the play-dough ends up with a grainy texture.

The photo at the top shows Chloe making a collage with her My First Scissors. They are rated for kids as young as four years old, but Chloe uses them just fine at 2 and a half (and under supervision). When she asks to “do cutting” I just hand her some pages from our recycle bin along with a glue stick, scissors, and a sheet on which to paste. It occupies her time, helps to develop good hand skills, and she enjoys it. All good things.


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A bit of happiness

Covering a wall with butterflies

Do you ever search the web to find a little bit of happiness? To me, the web is kind of like a magazine, full of ideas and inspiration and eye-candy (depending on where you look). One blog that is always good for the aforementioned qualities is Color Me Katie. She’s a photographer living in Brooklyn and shares lots of happy and colorful things, from crafts, to street art, to improv. I envy her rare gift that makes the ordinary extraordinary.  Take a look at these photos and see if her feel-good work doesn’t make your day a little bit more sunny. 🙂

Putting Rubber Duckies in street puddles

Drawing a kitty face on a toe

Birds flying out of a magazine

Marshmallows with faces


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I ♥ Collage Prints (2)

This is another collage that wowed me today. Artist Jenny Odell compiled satellite images from Google and created a really unique set of images. The one above 125 Swimming Pools is my favorite followed by 77 Waste and Salt Ponds and 144 Empty Parking Lots below. Jenny writes “The view from a satellite is not a human one, nor is it one we were ever really meant to see. But it is precisely from this inhuman point of view that we are able to read our own humanity, in all of its tiny, reliably repetitive marks upon the face of the earth…” You can read more about what she has to say here.

(via DesignSponge)


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Quick, Free Art

Free printable art to download
Poor Chloe is sick right now. She’s got it all – fever, horrible cough, puffy eyes, altered voice, runny nose, vomitting… It’s been pretty rough, especially at night. David took the first two nights sleeping in her room and then I took last night. She wakes up a lot, usually due to coughing fits that seem to work her in a frenzy of frantic crying and more coughing, which just makes everything worse. We’re pretty much taking it easy right now.

On a happier note, while at home this weekend I decided to finally re-fresh the art in our set of living room picture frames. For almost a year they’ve held abstract finger-paintings done in one of Chloe’s baby art classes. They were nice for a while, but I was feeling ready for something new.

Since getting pregnant this time around I haven’t felt at all creative, so I started looking on Etsy for possibilities. However, I didn’t want to spend very much or wait very long to get them. Then I remembered the web site Feed Your Soul: The Free Art Project. Basically, every month an artist provides a free, downloadable print. Isn’t that nice? I chose four (actually five, since I couldn’t decide between two), re-sized them to fit 8 x 10″ and then sent them off via internet to get printed at my local Target by one-hour photo processing. If I had a decent printer it would have been instant gratification, but I wasn’t even willing to wait for shipping (even though I prefer matte paper – Target only does one-hour processing in glossy). Each print was a bargain $2.89. Gotta love free art!


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Happiness

I’ve been feeling a little bad about the last post. Some days are just harder than others, and I realize that there are a lot of people that would happily exchange their problems for mine. So today I’m just concentrating on happiness and I’m finding a lot to be happy for.

Happiness today is…

  • Chloe going back to sleep after waking up early
  • Spending that extra time snuggling with my honey
  • Watching Chloe’s happily explore during her art class
  • Driving downtown to pick up my professionally printed photo for the Living River juried art exhibit. Can you believe it?! My photo was one of 80 works (from textiles, sculpture, photography, paintings, etc) selected out of over 350 submissions. I’ve never “shown” my work like this before, which is kind of thrilling.
  • Treating myself to a mocha and bressane from the Pearl Bakery.
  • Chloe falling asleep on the way home, and then taking a second nap later in the afternoon.
  • Finding out my mother-in-law is coming for a visit!


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Eeny, meeny, miny, moe

..
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(1) Maple leaves in the forest  (2) White flowers, Smith Rock
(3) Indian Paintbrush at the grandparent’s  (4) Miniature Rose in our yard

I’m thinking about putting new photographs in the four gallery frames hanging in our living room. Over the years they’ve held illustrations, photos, artwork, magazine pages and right now they’re displaying fabric. However, you’d think with all the photos I take, I’d easily fill those four frames with new photographs. But, no. The issue? Finding four vertical shots to make a set. Since I don’t often photograph vertically, there is a limited number to choose from. Choosing a matched pair is easy. A set of three, fine. Finding four that look good together? That’s a challenge.

I briefly considered doing four shots of Chloe, but it seemed too shrine-like in our little house. Then I considered texture shots, but now I’m thinking about the four nature scenes above. I think what ties these together is the sunlight and glow of color, plus the combination of crisp foreground and softer background.  I also like that Chloe and David are represented in one of them, but not overly so.

Someday I’d like to  shoot a set of nice black & whites – maybe architectural in theme – bridges, buildings, cityscapes. I like the set of three France photographs donated to Craft Hope’s Etsy shop (they sold!), but they are all horizontal, too. Or maybe I just need to scrap the current frame layout and turn them all sideways. Hmm… there’s a thought.


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Modern Wall Decals

I am really loving the new look of wall decals. They add an artistic touch with such a minimal amount of work, and are often customizable in colors to match your existing decor. David and I have talked about getting one for the living room, but I’m almost sure I’ll get one for the nursery. Here are just a few of my faves:

Cherry Blossom Branch with Birds

Cherry Blossom Branch with Birds (singlestonestudios.etsy.com)

Birds in Birdcage Grouping

Birds in Birdcage Grouping (singlestonestudios.etsy.com)

One or Two Color Tree

One or Two Color Tree (holly.etsy.com)

Birdhouse

Birdhouse (holly.etsy.com)

Love Birds on Flower Branches

Love Birds on Flower Branches ( decorette.etsy.com)


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Easter and My First ATCs

Happy Easter everyone! I’m sorry I’ve been such a blog slacker this week.

David and I had a pretty mellow day at home today. It was rainy and grey, so we mostly stayed in. This morning I made a special breakfast of Eggs Benedict and later we ate fresh from the oven Swedish cinnamon rolls from a package mix that I got the last time we were at Ikea. Very yum! Otherwise, we bought more dirt/compost to fill our new raised garden bed and went for a nice walk to our neighborhood lake with the dog. Pretty relaxing.

Earlier this week, I made my first artist trading cards for a swap. Actually, I wasn’t even sure what ATCs were, but from what I could glean from the good ‘ole internet, they can be whatever as long as they are (a mostly flat) 2.5 by 3.5 inches. This particular swap was for 2 pressed flower ATCs which gave me the perfect excuse to open my press from late last summer. Some real beauties in that batch. The background images are from an American Express booklet I found in our recycling bin, and I just added a couple lines of thread and hole punch dots. Will these count? I hope so.


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Crafty Giveaway

I’ve been having fun designing and making plastic pendants lately. I love combining colors and shapes and patterns into these little (mostly) 1″x 1″ works. You can kind of see what’s been on my mind lately – birds, patchwork, snowflakes, leaves and flowers. I don’t tend to wear much jewelry myself, but I like how necklaces can provide just the right amount of polish and character every now and then. Anyway, I hope you guys like them. To celebrate recently reaching my 250th post and to thank everyone who stops by my little blog, I’m holding my first crafty giveaway!

To enter, simply leave a comment on this post. That’s it! On Friday I’ll announce a winner by having David draw a name. The winner will get to chose a pendant from the selection shown above, and I’ll attach it to a leather cord for wearing. Be sure to leave a valid email address so I can contact the winner for a shipping address. Thanks for visiting and good luck!


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Custom banner design

I was contacted via Etsy by the talented Sarah Gilreath back in November about doing a custom banner for her blog Sarah’s Studio. Lucky for me she is an incredibly patient person, because it took a while to complete due to the mad holiday rush. I recently sent her three versions, of which she chose this one. Then, because she liked one of the alternates as well, she decided to purchase a second along with an avatar for her Etsy shop, LadyGil Designs. Be sure to check out her adorable 2008 mini coaster calendar, too!


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The perfect craft table

I thought about mentioning my new Norden gateleg table from IKEA in the previous post, but since it is not in actually stored in the office I thought I’d add it separately. David got fed up with not eating at the dinner table because of all my craft and sewing supplies spread out all over, so for Christmas he bought me this.

Although IKEA categorizes this as a dining table, I think it works far better as a utility/craft table. It’s not much of a looker, but as you can see from the image above, there are drop leaves on both sides, which each lift individually. There are also 3 drawers on each side, perfect for storing notions, balls of yarn and knitting needles, and other items that need a home for themselves.

Our 10′ x 10′ spare room is used as the “TV” room, and David uses that closet as his wardrobe (he’s generously allowed me full reign over our bedroom closet. All I can say is that decent closet space was not a priority in the late 1940’s). We’ve squeezed in a futon, a TV stand and two bookshelves into that room, which just leaves the two windows, door and closet accessible. So you can imagine my skepticism when David said we’d find a table to fit.

The great thing about the Norden table is that it folds down to be a mere 10.5″ (x 31.5″). No bigger than a small bookshelf (which we had to take out). When it is not in use it fits my sewing machine perfectly on top with plenty of room to spare. When I want to sew I pull out just one side, and when I want to spread out large sections of fabric or other projects I can extend both sides for a whopping 5 feet (and no, the gateleg does not seem to get in my way with the sewing pedal)

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