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Party Planning

Planning a painting art craft party

My little girl is turning 5 in less than a week! The older she gets the more she has her own opinions of what she wants to do to celebrate. A while back she mentioned a rainbow party. I remember thinking ‘Fun! I can do that!’ Then she said she wanted to paint with all her friends, and it morphed into a painting/craft party (with the same rainbow cake as last year, per her request). Earlier this week she said she wanted a fairy party, but by then I had already stocked up on watercolor sets and paint brushes, as well as other crafting materials (and to be honest, I have no idea how to throw a fairy party or how we’d incorporate boys). Either way, I know Chloe is very much looking forward to having her friends over and having a good time!

I’ve done a lot of thinking about this event – trying to stay within a reasonable budget, keeping the amount of decorating manageable but festive, planning varied and age-appropriate projects to suit different levels of interests and abilities, and most importantly of all: keeping in mind that this party is for Chloe to enjoy.

It is all too easy to fall into the stress of making a party “perfect” and feeling the pressure to impress other people. Its happened to me before, and still does to some extent. I’ve had to remind myself that this is for Chloe. Will she like this activity? Will this be fun for her preschool friends? But ultimately, I want the parents to enjoy being at the party as well. Socializing is all well and good, but its even better if the parents can participate in the fun.

Lastly, I’ve asked myself “How much cleaning up do we really want to do after the party’s over?” I am under no illusions about what might happen while hosting a painting/craft party with little ones involved. It is risky business any way you look at it. Mainly I tried to choose “washable” options and was careful to steer clear of anything involving glitter. The husband hates to see glitter on the floor, which is hard since Chloe loves “princess-y” things and has been gifted glittery clothes and toys which often leave a trail of sparkles behind.

So, that’s that! It’s going to be the largest gathering that we’ve ever hosted at the house, even though I tried to keep the guest list down as best I could. I just hope that everyone has a good time, and that Chloe feels the love of having her family and friends here to celebrate her big day.

More details to come after the party!


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Before and After: High Chair Seat Cushion & Cover

Hauck Alpha Chair with New Seat Cover

Ah, the plethora of kid stuff. I don’t know about you, but I thought we’d get by with a lot less gear than we actually have. I’d done my homework, read reviews and comparison shopped. I’d wanted to make the right choices the first time around. But the truth is, you don’t really know what will work until you try it in your own home with your own kid. Our first high chair, for example, had great reviews, two trays, folded for storage and could convert to a small chair for later. It sounded great in theory, but despite all those things we never liked it. The footprint was too wide, it was heavy, the trays were too big too clean in the sink, and we never folded and put it away between meals. What’s the point if it was going to be used 3+ times a day? We used it for both kids for the least amount of time possible.

As soon as Leo was old enough we switched him to a booster and tray set that sat on top of one of our dining chairs. It worked fine for a while, but I could see that Leo couldn’t rest his legs comfortably, plus it was too high to push under the table. We would all occasionally trip on the back legs. I began to look for other options.

Thanks to craigslist I found a like-new Hauck Alpha Chair for a bargain. It was and is the perfect chair for Leo. I could go on and on about it, but I’ll limit myself to saying that it is super sturdy, adjustable, comfortable, promotes good posture and he can climb into it easily by himself. It also matches the rest of our dining chairs (unlike Chloe’s Ikea Urban Junior Chair). Winner!

We’ve had the Alpha chair since January and just recently took the seat and the foot plate down a notch to accommodate Leo’s growth (my little boy is growing up!). Actually, the only thing I didn’t love about the chair was the seat pad. It was thin and lumpy. If food spilled on it, it would immediately stain. More like a bib than a seat cover. Yuck. Here is the “Before” photo:

Time for a new seat cushion! Here is what I sewed up to take its place:

Much improved wouldn’t you say?

My cushion cover skills were limited to the one I made for our storage bench years ago. This time I had to buy the foam padding and add a strap down system, too. Luckily it was easy to find a sheet of foam at Mill End and it easily cut down to size (the sheet was so large, that I also ended up making a cushion for under Barkley’s dog bed). I used the same strap/velcro system as on the original pad (see above photo), but I chose PUL (or polyurethane laminated fabric) for the covering. It is water resistant and popular for cloth diaper covers. It is easily also easily wiped clean or washed, and came in prints suitable for a young boy.

Leo sitting in his Hauck Alpha Chair

Much better!

So far the seat cushion has held up nicely during the past couple months. Makes me glad I took the time to do it right. Do you have a chair that could benefit from a new seat or cushion cover?


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Spring Flowerpot Makeover + Elmer’s Paint Markers Giveaway!

Leave a comment on this post before midnight tonight, April 4th, for your chance to win a set of Elmer’s Paint Markers and a $25 Walmart gift card. See details below!

A couple weeks ago I was approached about doing an Elmer’s product review and giveaway. My reply? Yes! I’ve always wanted to do a product review, and you know how I love art supplies! With the arrival of springtime, blooming plants, and sunshine, I figured a painted pot project would be just the thing!

To begin the project, I stopped by to a local thrift shop to pick up a pot. Hmm… which lucky pot would be going home with me? How about this one:

It would be perfect for our front porch. I brought it home for a little TLC, including a thorough scrubbing and a coat of semi-gloss white paint.

Then my Elmer’s Paint Markers arrived. Wow! These are not like any paint marker I’ve ever used. The colors are bright and the flow is just right. At first I kept doodling test sketches of flowers, but then I realized a friendly greeting might be more appropriate for near the front door.

Like any paint, you have to shake the pens before using. To get the paint flowing, you depress the tip on a dry surface. I had a piece of paper to do this on before I painted the pot. I was pleased to see that the marker caps were true indicators of the paint color, and that they fit snugly – not only is the product protected from drying out, but I don’t have to worry about my little ones being able to open them without my supervision. They are also non-toxic, acid-free and fast drying. I was able to lay down the green lines and then draw the blue letters on top shortly after. I did go over the filled-in areas a second time, just to ensure a solid coat. Over all, I was pleasantly surprised. I can see many possible future uses for these little pens!

What do you think? Want to paint your own flower pot, or have some other project in mind where paint markers would be handy? Then you’re in luck because this post includes a giveaway!

Enter to win a set of Elmer’s Painters AND a $25 Walmart gift card!

To enter, leave a comment below (or by clicking “comments” under the title above to add your comment). That’s it! Yay!

More details: This is not a paid review. I was simply given a pack of markers to try, which I sincerely enjoyed. Winner will receive a 5-pack of medium Tip sherbet swirl painters which includes: Ocean, Lilac, Citron, Coral and Tangerine, AND a $25 Walmart gift card. This contest is open to residents of the US and must be 18 years or older. Giveaway ends on Thursday, April 4 at midnight PST. Winner will be drawn on April 5 using random.org. Please be sure to leave a valid email address so I can contact you. If the winner does not respond within 72 hours a new winner will be chosen. Good luck!


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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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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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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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Hide-a-bee

A while back, I was flipping through an old Family Fun magazine where I read about a game called Hide-a-bee. Basically, they painted a rock to look like a bee and then “hid” it in plain site for the little kids to find. The first child who found the bee got to hide it for the next round, and so on. I was charmed by the simple concept (even for a toddler to grasp) and the inexpensive painted rock art. I made a few for Chloe this week (including a hide-a-bug ladybug). Its portability makes it handy for our upcoming flight, and if we lose it, hey, it’s just a rock!

More rock craft inspiration found here.


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Valentine Idea: Day 5 – Free Printable Cards

Print your own card – I had a little extra time to whip up two cards that are free to download and print! The “Your love means the world to me” flower card measures 3.5 x 5 inches and the diagonal label card that reads “Thoughts for you, my love, on Valentine’s Day” measures 4 x 6 inches. There are two versions of the flower card, one with the flowers printed on the cover and the other with the flowers printed on the side. The side flowers are there so you can cut them out separately and adhere them with foam tape for a 3-dimensional look (like in the photo). Enjoy!


Download version 1 | version 2 (3D)


Download Valentine Label Card

Need some more kid-friendly cards? Try this free Light-up Valentine printable.


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Chloe’s new mittens

I’m happy to say that I completed a craft project for January! I had seen a pair of fleece baby mittens in a store downtown and couldn’t believe the price tag said $20 bucks! More than I’d spend for two tiny swatches of fleece that Chloe would use only for another month or two. Plus, I hate to admit it, but her grandma sent out a set earlier in the year that Chloe wore once before we misplaced them. Not a good track record for us.

All in all, it was pretty easy once I got started. Unfortunately, one of my bad habits is spending way too much time thinking about a project, instead of just trying to do it. The leftover fleece came from my stash, and though it took two tries to get the shape and size right, I’m pretty happy with the results. I worked on these after Chloe went to bed, so they were hand sewn. I kind of hemmed and hawed over leaving the wrist edges raw (one thing I love about fleece), but then decided to finish with a blanket stitch. I also added a ribbon to secure them to her wrists. Sewing on velcro or elastic just seemed too complicated for my limited skill and patience.

I think the funnest part of the project was doing a mini photoshoot with Chloe! She really liked them! I thought she might have a problem grasping things, but she didn’t seem to at all. If I have time, I’ll post my pattern and maybe a brief tutorial. Now, all I need to do is find a new recipe to try and I’ll be done with my blogging goals for the month!

P.S. We found her old mittens in the tray compartment of the stroller. Of course! And I’m also proud to say I made her hat, too. The easiest beginner knit hat ever. I see more of those in her future.


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Hope

I’ve been feeling unsure about what to write regarding the tragedy in Haiti. So much has been written, far better expressed than anything I could have put down on paper. But I feel like I would be remiss to remain silent. With that in mind I am going to link to these posts on SouleMama and House on Hill Road, simply because I have read them most recently and they in turn provide links to information and ways to help.

Also, if you are a crafter and have something you could donate, please check out Craft Hope. All proceeds will benefit Doctors Without Borders. Already the crafting community and those who purchase handmade goods are showing their generosity – according to the most recent post the Craft Hope for Haiti Etsy shop has made 162 sales and raised almost $4000 $10,000! All those contributions (including those seemingly small ones) really add up, so please take a look.


Two of my donations – button hair clips and s/3 bw france photographs


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Birth to 1-year Poster

I thought I’d share this collage I made for the grandmas (framed) and great-grandmas (5×7 matted) for Christmas this year. David and I aren’t big on hanging family pictures (thus there are none around, mostly due to lack of space), but I might try and make room for this one. It is sort-of an updated version of this Mother’s Day photo card I put together when Chloe was 6-months old. It might have been easier to choose just one image per month, but I obviously got carried away.


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Free Holiday Gift Tags – Updated Colors

I was hoping to make a brand new set of gift tags to give away this year, but time just seems to be slipping away! Instead, please enjoy this updated color set, or feel free to download the original color set. Why buy tags when you can download and print them for free?!

Also, the following downloads are still available from previous years:

……

Holiday Gift Checklist 2007 / Happy Holidays Card / Printable Snowflake Giftwrap

…

Holiday Gift Tags / Holiday Cheer Board Game / From Me to You for the Holidays

…

Little Bird Notecard Set / Snowflake Placecards


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Appliqued Handtowels in 5 easy steps

While we were in Colorado earlier this month, I had an opportunity to watch my mother-in-law make this fun set of appliqued handtowels as a gift. She made it look so easy! Here are the materials and steps she used:

Materials
Dishtowel
Double sided fusible interface
Fabric scrap for the design
Thread for both the top side and bottom side

1. Find an image that you like and cut the shape out of both the interface and fabric. Sandy chose to use this cat image.

2. Sandwich the fusible interface between the dishtowel and the fabric, and iron them together until they are properly adhered.

3. Using a satin stitch (also called applique stitch, or tight zig-zag stitch), sew around the border of your shape. This will cover the raw edges of the fabric. I was surprised to note that Sandy kept the feed dog up, yet was able to move the fabric around with her fingers pretty easily.

4. After the border of the shape is done, use a pencil to draw the inner details to be “traced” by stitching. Sandy wanted to use a thinner satin stitch, so she adjusted the settings on her sewing machine and did a few tests before continuing.

5. Stitch over the pencil marks to add detail. Sandy noted that it is very helpful to always snip the loose threads as you go.

The finished designs!


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Sewing Calendar 2010

Look what arrived in the mail today! My very own copy of the 2010 Sewing Calendar! It features over 100 cute and inspiring sewing projects, including my Felt Photo Album tutorial! It is so cool to see one of my projects in print. No, I don’t get any perks from being included or from the sale of the calendar, but it just feels good, you know? Which reminds me, I haven’t done anything crafty for the longest time. Perhaps it is time to start something. 🙂

P.S. The photo above is from Amazon, but Made by Petchy has some nice detail photos here.


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Felt Flower Hair Clip Giveaway!

I finally found some time to make some new hair clips! These are just so fun. I can’t wait until Chloe has enough hair. Meanwhile it gives me plenty of time to build up my stash, since I’ve been giving most away as little gifts. I also decided to add a few to my sorely neglected etsy shop, and included a couple with matching cards:


Would you like to win the white felt flower hair clip in the top photo? Leave a comment below on this post and I’ll announce a random winner next weekend. Good Luck!


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Handmade for Baby Swap

Handmade for baby swap

I forgot to mention this, but I’m hosting a swap on swap-bot called Handmade for Baby – Useful. The signup ends today, but here is the listing description if anyone is interested…

Find yourself making all kinds of handmade baby items? This is the chance to share your talent!

Each swap partner will make something handmade (and useful) for their partner’s baby. This could be burp cloths, handmade disposable diaper, onesie or t-shirt, bib(s), booties, quilt or blanket, diaper changing mat, etc. The important thing is that the item is handmade with care in some way – sewn, embellished, knit, embroidered, etc.

In the comments section (on the swapbot page), you can state if you have a boy or a girl and provide their name, if you’d like. Partners may not make a specific request, but can include one thing that they WOULD NOT want to receive. If you choose to make something that needs a specific size (clothing or diaper), then it is important that you message your partner.


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Sewing Baby's Blanket


Here’s a peek at our new Ikea dresser and bookcase. Holding up the lamp
and shade is Louis the lion, one of our many wonderful shower gifts.

I finally sat down to sew baby’s blanket. The print side is leftover Alexander Henry Kleo fabric from the lovely crib skirt my mother-in-law made, and the back is pink dot minky. At the baby shower, we received two pink and white minky quilts, so I was able to return one and buy a yard of plain pink minky fabric instead.

I noticed the price of minky varies widely at our local shops. I first saw it for $20/yard where we purchased the Kleo fabric. Then I bought it elsewhere for $15, and used a coupon. Later I found it at Joann’s for $12.99/yard, but their pink wasn’t the right match.

The other thing about Minky is that it is a little hard to work with, as my mother-in-law warned me. Plus I’m a newbie sewer and had never made anything with stretchy material before. Knowing this, I tried to put in a little more effort – smoothing out the material, pinning it more often to keep creeping to a minimum, using a longer stitch length to keep the edges from buckling, decreasing the tension, and sewing it with the minky side down.

I started by cutting out matching rectangles from both fabrics. With the right sides facing, I stitched the perimeter with rounded corners, leaving a small open section at one end to turn it right side out. I trimmed and graded the raw edges, turned it right side out, and then top stitched it about a half inch from the edge. The finished size is about 30″ x 40″. I think it looks pretty good, considering.

Now, onto other baby projects…


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Crafting in Miniature


Matchbox Dresser Drawers 2.25 x 1.5 x 2 inches (shown with mini pink post-it notes)

I have been so bad lately about making things for swaps and not photographing them. I get all wrapped up in sending them out and don’t think about it until too late. This little chest of drawers is the only thing remaining from craft time this week. It’s made up of 6 matchboxes, based upon this matchbox dresser tutorial. I used paper instead of paint, brads for the drawer pulls, and felt rounds for the feet. Each drawer contains little surprises. Tomorrow it is on its way to Sweden.


Bottlecap Pincushion 1.125 x 1.75 inches

I also made two bottlecap pincushions, which I forgot to photograph. Here, however, is one that was sent to me. Isn’t it darling? There is a little yellow bird with a beaded eye on both sides, so it’s uber cute in every direction. Thanks Crystal!


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Teapot Button

I picked up this button the last time I was at Mill End. I’ve never really been a button person A) because they usually look too old-fashioned, or ornate to me and B) because I don’t know how to sew a button-hole yet. But I browsed the racks on my way out and came across this elegant little teapot novelty button by the German manufacturer Dill Buttons. I actually walked away, twice, but I knew I’d regret it if I came back and it wasn’t there.

The thing is, what am I going to do with it? Where could I put it and make it look like it belongs? Probably not a large project, which would just swallow it (it’s not quite an inch tall). Maybe something asian? And smallish? A clutch, maybe? Or does the teapot shape look too food-y to be put on an accessory? Not to mention I could never carry a clutch. I would put it down and loose it in a heartbeat. So… anyone willing to share some ideas?

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