Dreaming big (and small)

12/12/2012 at 4:29 pm | Posted in DIY | 4 Comments

thanks-latte(source)

Dream: “Thanks a Latte” gift card holder for the girls’ teachers. Isn’t this clever? I discovered it in my friend Brandy’s post over here. And I’ve already printed the cards. Just need to mount them to card stock and add the coffee sleeve, gift card and twine. Easy peasy, right?

Reality: Suzanne up late the night before school closes for holiday break, cutting and gluing and cursing.

pom-poms(source)

Dream: Paper garland for Sophie’s nursery. I actually made one of these for our Christmas mantel, but the pom-poms came out as gigantic flowers so now it looks like Hawaii in our living room. But I figure, hey. Now I know how to make these suckers. Just smaller. And less tropical flower-y.

Reality: Sophie’s room looking like Hawaii.

dresser(source)

Dream: A makeover for Sophie’s dresser. We just re-inherited Marc’s grandfather’s dresser from Laura, who painted it a beautiful eggplant color. I love its clean design and simple plain-front drawers. It’s like a canvas begging for a paintbrush. I’m drawn to chevron but might try a bit of a different pattern like the one above.

Reality: I got this. God didn’t make me Type-A for nothing.

The rainbow party that almost wasn't

05/08/2012 at 3:41 pm | Posted in baby sunshine, DIY | 15 Comments
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I was determined.

I had been dreaming of Sophie’s rainbow birthday party for months, but the closer we got to her first birthday, the more panicked I became. She and Lily got sick, then she got sick again, then I got sick, and we’ve all been just plain exhausted. So as April drew to a close, I knew I had to let go of my Pinterest-perfect dreams.

Just focus on the cake and the balloon garland, I told myself. You can do this.

And we did. It was awesome.

For the cake, I used two white boxed mixes and a whole lot of food coloring. I split up the batter into six batches and baked them three layers at a time. I also stained the countertops, several kitchen towels and my fingers, but that’s just between you and me.

My able assistant was a big help (and a master spoon-licker):

We kept the party small. Family and baby friends and one very happy dog who loved licking rainbow crumbs off the floor. The day was gorgeous up until the party got started. I captured a few sunny shots, then had to rely on my flash (boo) for the rest of the party as the rain rolled in.

This centerpiece was a Type-A nightmare. I won’t tell you how many times I hung and re-hung the lanterns and balloons. I clearly need help.

The Deputy arrived early and kicked into super-auntie mode. She and my sister-in-law blew up dozens of balloons for this balloon garland tutorial I was determined to make. We used fishing line, which worked well for the binding of the balloon clusters, but made it a real challenge to string them all together. They kept sticking and twisting up.

Alisa not only figured out how to finish our masterpiece, but she also dusted off the dog hair once we hung it. True friend right there.

And here’s a shot of our table just before little hands got into the fruity rainbow:

Sophie had a ball. I’ll never forget how her face lit up when everyone sang to her. Too much. Although, the hat didn’t last long.

And Sophie loved her cake so much that she decided to share:

Our best attempt to get all the baby pals together for a shot:

And here’s our one-year-old showing off her wide stance:

Happy, happy day.

Deck the halls (with square snowflakes)

12/12/2011 at 9:22 pm | Posted in DIY, just plain fun | 2 Comments
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making paper snowflakes

So this was supposed to be another “Kid DIY” post, with lovely photos of Lily making her very own paper snowflakes. Until I realized that I had no idea what I was doing.

Things started swimmingly … chubby little fingers pressing paper into triangles, folding and folding and folding. Then she couldn’t get her scissors through all those folds. I gave it a try, clipping out a few shapes here and there, unfolding it slowly for dramatic effect. Lily was pretty amazed by the transformation of little butchered triangle into big snowflake-like-thing.

making paper snowflakes

making paper snowflakes

But they kept turning out square.

And Lily lost interest because she couldn’t do the cutting. And then she spotted her dad out the window raking leaves and bolted from the room in a flurry of tiny paper shavings.

How to tell when your kid isn’t into the crafting? She ditches you for manual labor.

Determined to make just one snowflake-looking snowflake, I found this tutorial. Which reveals the trick fold. Say it with me: DUH.

I whipped out a couple that made me happy, and Lily and I strung all of them up in our big window by the kitchen table.

paper snowflakesWith the exception of our tree and a couple of wreaths, I gave myself a holiday decorating pardon this year. Any year in which I birth a child? No decking of the halls.

So these snowflakes are pretty much it.

And I love them.

Kid DIY: Thanksgiving turkey hat

11/23/2011 at 11:15 am | Posted in DIY, Small Fry | 5 Comments

Thanksgiving turkey hat

When I spotted this turkey hat tutorial, I decided then and there: my child needs a turkey hat. I’ve been on a turkey hat crusade for days. Finally, Lily obliged me and we got down to some serious crafting.

Materials:
Construction paper in six different colors, including black and white for eyes.
One paper plate
Paint
Q-Tips
Scissors
Glue stick
Stapler

Steps:
I started by cutting the plate in half. We didn’t have plain old paper plates, so I just flipped one over to hide the decoration. Lily love painting the ridges with Q-Tips. She took very seriously the business of precision painting.

Thanksgiving turkey hat

While the paint dried, we cut out all of our shapes: a 6-inch semicircle, a 3-inch circle, quarter-size circles for the white part of the eyes, dime-size circles for the dark part of the eyes, a triangle nose and a comma for the waddle. Lily surprised me with her scissor skills, cutting the large pieces by herself. Look at those little fingers!

Thanksgiving turkey hat

Next is glue stick time. She glued the pink body onto the paper plate, then we assembled the whole face before pressing it onto the plate (warning: more cute pudgy fingers ahead).

Thanksgiving turkey hat

Thanksgiving turkey hat

Thanksgiving turkey hat

We don’t have any craft foam, so I just cut strips from construction paper, fitted them to Lily’s head and stapled them together to form a ring. Then, I glued the ring to the hat. And voila.

Thanksgiving turkey hat

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Kid DIY: pressed leaves

11/17/2011 at 3:11 pm | Posted in DIY, Small Fry | 4 Comments
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I am a sucker for craft time with the three-year-old.

Lily is always game for anything, especially when she’s allowed to make a mess (see: here). So with all of the pretty leaves on the ground — this fall has been particularly spectacular in North Carolina — I decided we’d try an old school craft from mommy’s childhood: pressing leaves.

Materials:
Leaves (The more colorful, the better. And make sure they haven’t gotten too dry or begun to curl.)
Wax paper
Iron & ironing board
2 kitchen towels
Optional: scissors, hole punch, ribbon/yarn

Steps:
Lily gathered a bushel of leaves from our backyard. And after careful deliberation, she whittled it down to about 10.

Two of the finalists:

Then she lay them carefully onto a sheet of wax paper, making sure that none were touching.

Pleased with her work. Because, of course.

Then I lay the second piece of wax paper on top and managed to lift the whole lot WITHOUT DROPPING ANYTHING and place it on the ironing board, on top of one of the kitchen towels.

I covered it with another kitchen towel and began to iron, pressing lightly at first. After a peek to be sure the wax had begun to melt, I really dug into the ironing. And more ironing. And then some more.

Lily was fascinated with the results, especially how the wax melted and trapped the leaves. Our creation turned out a little more bubbly and ridgy than I’d hoped, but it still looks neat.

Now, here’s the optional part. My idea to cut out each leaf (leaving a small border so they stay sealed inside the wax) and hang them in her playroom windows got poo-poo’d. Lily wanted a giant leaf placemat. So I slapped a piece of masking tape on it, had her sign her name, dated it, and voila. Leaf placemat.

And no Lily photo session would be complete without her signature I’m-tired-of-having-my-picture-taken grimace.

I have a list of projects for us to try. Next up is a turkey craft, and soon after, my personal favorite: the macaroni necklace (with a twist).

What are your favorite craft projects from childhood? What should we try?

Party like a three-year-old

02/10/2011 at 3:25 pm | Posted in DIY, Small Fry | 14 Comments
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Cupcakes. Ice cream. A candy bar stocked with all sorts of sweet treats.

You can definitely tell that a pregnant lady planned Small Fry’s 3rd birthday party.

We had a ball! Besides all of the eating, there were friends, family, laughter, gifts and love all around. Our girl was queen for a day. And she soaked up every minute.

I tried to get a little crafty this year. You know, cutting out triangles and other really tough stuff.

1. To make the banners, I cut out a cardboard triangle template, then traced it onto some of my favorite scrapbook paper (that sits unused in the corner of our bedroom, waiting for me to finish Small Fry’s 1 year album. ha.). I made two sizes of triangles (for four banners), to take advantage of every possible bit of paper. Then I punched holes in the top corners of each triangle and threaded ribbon through. Voila! (Which is French for: easy!)

2. I used the leftover scraps of paper to make little flags for the cupcakes. This took place at 10:00 on the night before the party, so I got extra lazy. I just folded the little scraps in half lengthwise and cut as many triangles as would fit (so, unfolded, they’d be diamond-shaped). Then, I wrapped them around toothpicks and used a glue stick to fasten.

3-4. The candy bar! I thought it would be fun to have each little party guest make his or her own favor bag. Almost all of the bulk candy (no chocolate, peanuts, etc.) and clear cellophane bags came from Target. I also set out the same brown and white polka dot ribbon used in the banners to tie each bag. And, much to my surprise, disaster didn’t ensue! Each little person patiently eyed the bowls of candy SITTING OUT IN THE OPEN, and as they left the party, carefully assembled a bag to take home. The grown-ups seemed to enjoy these treats too. And, yes. I’m still eating the leftovers.

1. Happy day! Look at this beautiful banner that Laura sewed for us! I can’t tell you how much I love this thing. It was difficult not to wrap myself in it to snuggle in bed at night. It is that cute. And so lovingly made. The colors, the little flower and felt button details, the cheery message. I just love it. We’ll whip it out for many an occasion to come. Laura is gearing up to give one of these away during her first blog giveaway, so stay tuned!

2-3. The party girl, sort of wearing her hat and snapping away with her brand-new Dora camera whilst wearing her new Dora bracelet.

4. Miniature ice cream cups! With little wooden spoons!  Heaven.

And here are a few shots of Small Fry enjoying her special day.

Happy #3, little girl.


Happiness is: two bags

01/26/2011 at 9:39 am | Posted in DIY, Happiness is | 4 Comments
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vintage beaded purse

I inherited this beautiful little beaded bag from my grandmother Lillian, and I love it. It’s so unique and delicate. I can’t wait to have an occasion to carry it. Which, with the excitement in my life, might be to Target. But still.

The best part about this treasure was discovering a little hand-written note tucked into the interior pocket that told when grandma had received the bag and from whom. Then, when I showed the bag to Small Fry, she of course grabbed the tissue paper and yanked everything out of the box. Thank goodness she did, because we might not have otherwise discovered the little Christmas tag from my grandmother’s uncle to her, when the gift was given. In 1939.

Here’s the box it came in:

box from The May Co. in Baltimore

Another new treasure is this awesome tote that Laura made for Small Fry. Back in August at the BlogHer conference, the Nickelodeon booth was screen-printing free Dora and Diego t-shirts for kids. By the time I got there, they’d given out everything except kids’ large sizes. And I figured that when Small Fry is big enough to fit in it, she might not be so interested in Dora anymore. Wishful thinking? (Shame on mommy).

So I gave the shirt to my brilliant sis and asked her to make something with it. Look what she did!

Dora the Explorer tote bag

I love everything about it — the funky fabric, the ric-rac around the Dora design, the size (perfect for road trips). Small Fry declared upon receiving it that it would be “good for the grocery store.” (I photoshopped out her real name, which runs just above Dora’s head). She loves this bag. Right now it’s stuffed with farm animals. For the grocery, you know.

Happiness is: a finished project

05/28/2010 at 9:52 am | Posted in DIY, Happiness is | 6 Comments
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When we inherited this dresser from Marc’s cousin before Small Fry was born, it was a yellowed shade of cream with stenciled blue flowers. Not a pretty sight. But we saw the potential in it, and Marc painstakingly refinished it to a lovely pink with white handles.

It was the fist thing we finished in the nursery and sat by itself for weeks, surrounded by boxes, piles of clothes and other treasures we accumulated at our baby showers. I’d go sit on the nursery floor and just stare at that dresser, smiling at the thought of one day stuffing it with tiny baby girl clothes.

For the longest time though, I’ve been itching to add color to it.

So I painted the handles green and gave the drawers a refresher coat of pink (which, it’s hard to tell from these photos, is a shade lighter than the rest of the dresser).

You can really see the detail in the handles now:

I’m so happy with how it turned out, and I especially like how that green ties into the polka-dot bolster that my mother-in-law made.

Not a huge project, but still makes me smile!

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