December 23, 2010

Painted Pirate Map

A real treasure map for the little pirate at our house.

I started by drawing a design on paper- nothing fancy, just four pieces of copy paper taped together. I started with pencil, then traced with a marker so it would show through for the next part.

Then I put a square of white cotton fabric on top. Again nothing fancy, just a discounted scrap I found in the remnants bin at the craft store. I used a pencil to trace the lines onto the fabric.

I thought maybe the fabric was a little too white, so I dyed it using tea. I normally don't drink tea, so I just snagged a few bags from the breakfast bar of our hotel one weekend. I put a few cups of water in a pan, brought it to a boil, then added the wadded up fabric and the tea bags and left it there overnight. The next morning I had a nice dirty map!

Then I painted with some acrylics using a sponge brush, q-tip, and waded paper towel depending on the texture I wanted.

After the paint dried, I used permanent markers to draw in the details or add color where needed. By this time I had lost my original drawing, but I think I remembered enough of the cool stuff to make it work! 

To make a fun gift, I packaged this rolled up in a treasure chest with a lock and key, a bandana, and a play spyglass for some ready-made pirate fun!

A nesting doll family

I found these blank wooden nesting dolls at Hobby Lobby for just $6. I couldn't pass up the chance to make a personalized set for my girl to play with. She has nearly lost the parts to her big sister's "special" souvenir set more times than I care to admit, so I was happy to find her an alternative. 

I traced the outlines on scratch paper and sketched in the details I wanted to paint on, then used a pencil to draw right on the dolls.  You'll notice I got simpler with each level of design!

I used a tiny brush and craft store acrylics to paint, then a sharpie pen to draw on the detail lines. 

Finally I finished them off with a few coats of modge podge sealant. I went with modge podge instead of an acrylic spray because modge podge is non-toxic and I was worried they might get licked or something.

I think the baby is my favorite, even though she will not be put into circulation any time soon since she is a choking hazard!

December 14, 2010

Take Along Fabric Dollhouse

A Christmas gift for my littlest one:

The perfect home for Little People, Calico Critters, Nesting Dolls, or Polly Pockets! I am hoping this will be an easy take-along to church, in the car, or to Grandma's house. The best part? All made from scraps in my stash, a free gift!
I used the tutorial by UK Lass. Hers is pretty thorough, so I am not going to do my own, just tell you to go there instead! Check out the flickr group she links to at the bottom for many, many more examples. Actually, mine doesn't look to great next to many of those, so maybe don't go look? Either way, you should make one. It took me a total of about 4 hours to make. I think I could do it in two now that I know what I am doing. Maybe a car garage, a barn, or a little grocery store? The possibilities are endless!

Linking into Made by You Mondays on Skip to my Lou!

And Linky Love on No Time for Flashcards!
No Time For Flash Cards

December 13, 2010


ok for these I just took an old stocking and traced it to the fabric I wanted to use. Then sewed them together and done. From start to finish it took probably 45 min. Enjoy!

Magazine tree

I saw this on a friends facebook page. It is so easy, and your kids could each do one. When you are done folding remove the cover. I am in love, it is easy, fast and cheap!
ok so fold down like this.

then fold again like this.

Then fold up corner. Repeat each fols on every page.
remove cover.

This is what you get.

I spray painted mine.

December 4, 2010

DIY glass vase/ candy dish

ok so I found a bowl, a cup and this flat dish at the dollar store and DI. I also found candle sticks.

I used this glue, but I have seen other blogs use gorilla glue.

here are two of them.
I really like the cup and bowl. I am hooked!
these will be filled with candy and given to teachers!
Total cost: $2.00 per dish!


November 20, 2010

Horse Chestnut Wreath

Our neighbor has a tree, and every fall it drops horse chestnuts in our yard. They are poisonous, you can't eat them. This year I came up with a plan to use them. A wreath, well two of them actually!

The second one is bigger so I spray painted it, and it's going on the front door!

November 18, 2010

Christmas Coutdown- Activity Advent

I love Advent calendars. There are so very many to choose from out there- from simple to overboard complicated. In our house, I try to keep it simple.
Each day of December, we do an activity. I make a master list of all the things we have to do, add in the things we always do, and fill in the gaps with things we could do. Then I pull out my calendar and write things in.
On Sunday and Monday we do church-based lessons for the Sabbath and for family night. Other days, I work around dance lessons and school concerts and community events. The first three weeks I try to keep it to already scheduled things or simple home activities like stories, crafts, or treats I can make ahead of time because the older kids are in school. When the real vacation starts I pull out the more involved activities because I can be more flexible with bed time or go on outings during the day.
The week before Christmas, I use a church-published advent calendar from the Friend magazine that usually includes scripture stories, service, and songs. I also like to stretch our Advent out the week after Christmas to include New Year's resolutions, post-holiday thank you cards, and even a night to take down the tree.
Each year I try to think of a new way to display our countdown. Usually it consists of some sort of envelope to hold a slip of paper that tells the activity and a small treat (think a Hershey kiss or sticker) with a number stuck on. I would love to someday make something permanent like stitched felt envelopes, decoupage match boxes, or tiny handmade stockings that we pull out every year but I haven't got to the point where that has made it to the top of my to-do list. Until then, I go with simple, kid-made, or ready bought.
This year I am going to try to fold some origami envelopes or boxes and string them on a simple garland with my 9 yr old's help. If I don't get around to it before December 1st, I will just pull out leftover envelopes from last year's Christmas cards and use those. I am all about being resourceful. Here are my favorite links for foldable boxes:

Here is our family's list of activities for the year. Maybe you can use it to create your own based on what is happening in your community.
And always leave yourself an out for those days when it is just not possible to drive to the zoo or go shopping or bake plates of cookies for the neighbors. My back-up plan is to read a favorite Christmas book under the tree while eating a simple treat like Oreos and milk or warm apple cider and cinnamon toast. After all, the whole reason we do it is to spend time together and enjoy the Christmas season, not torture each other on a nightmare trip to the mall or having to listen to a cranky toddler cry all the way to the zoo and back! Do a quick switch before the kids open it and insert the bigger activity back in later if it is really important to you.

Activity Advent List of Ideas

Watch the First Presidency Christmas Devotional
Watch the Mormon Tabernacle Choir Special on PBS
Go to the county tree lighting ceremony
Visit Lights of the South (a local walk and drive through light display)
Decorate the Christmas tree
Leave shoes by the door for Saint Nicholas
Set up Nativity scenes
Go to pajama story time at the bookstore
Go breakfast with Santa at the school
Visit Santa at the Mall
Make and deliver treats for friends
Make a gift for your teachers
Watch a favorite Christmas movie and eat red and green popcorn balls
Visit Lights Before Christmas at the Zoo
Write a letter to Santa Claus
Drive through the neighborhood and look at lights while eating popcorn and hot chocolate
Make Saint Lucia Day rolls for breakfast
Watch Christmas specials on TV
Do a secret act of service
Earn some money and donate it to the Angel Tree at school
Buy a toy for Toys 4 Tots
Decorate the outside of the house
Make something yummy and invite a family over to share it with
Go to the church Christmas party
Visit the gingerbread house village at the museum
Make a gingerbread house
Watch the Christmas parade
Go to the school Christmas concert
Have a sleepover under the Christmas tree
Make cookies for Santa
Watch the Nativity on DVD
Read the Christmas story from the Bible and act it out
Make a birthday cake for Jesus
Write thank you notes for gifts
Take down the Christmas tree
Donate three items of clothing or toys to Goodwill
Write down five things you learned to do in 2010
Make a New Year's Resolution
Call out of town relatives at midnight to shout Happy New Year

November 17, 2010

Tween Room Makeover

Over the summer my 8 yr old daughter started watching "Trading Spaces Kids." We have now blocked tat channel, for my sanity sake. Ever since, she has been begging me to give her room a make over. In a day, so she can be suprised. She was so enthusiastic for the project, she asked her only birthday presents this year be the ones that would go towards her big room makeover. She told me what she wanted, and I spent a few months preparing and making a few accessories. Then I locked her out for a weekend and went to work. She now a happy 9 yr old with a fairy garden room that she actually wants to keep clean!

Her requirements: fairies, but not the baby kind or Disney kind; colors, especially purple; a bulletin board; a writing desk; a chair for reading in; vines and floweres hanging from the ceiling and on the walls so it feels like a garden.
My requirements: cheap, easy, sibling-proof.

Flower garden bedding set and purple curtains- $0.00 snagged from a friend who was moving 
Desk- $0.00 handed down by a friend who was moving
Dish chair- $30.00, but jointly gifted by a friend bring my cost to $15.00
Purple bean bag chair- $2.00 from goodwill
Memo board- $2.00 for ribbon, $1.00 for fabric, made by me here
Mobiles- $2.00 for 10 pieces of cardstock, $4.00 for butterflies and flowers, made by me here
Canopy- $6.00 for ribbons, made by me here
Wallies flower fairies stickers- $14.00
Paint- $6.00 for assorted colors of acrylic paints
Total Cost: $52.00, plus about 10 hours of labor. You might be faster if you don't have 2 yr old to help!



I practiced the painting with water first.

 Flower garden mural:
 Stick on Fairies with glitter paint pixie dust:
 New desk and chair:
 Painted the tree:

Added mobiles, memo board, curtains, and bedding:
 Hung the canopy, tested out by lil' sis:
 A few more wall fairies:
 Memo board and fairy headress:

Bed Canopy from Hula Hoop

I was in Bed Bath and Beyond last week and saw a sheer bed canopy for $39. I was shopping for my daughter, who wanted her room decorated like a fairy garden for her birthday. I loved the canopy, but knew I could do better than $39. I went home and did some scrounging, and came up with this:
For a total cost of $6.00.

Here is how I did it:
1. Gather supplies- I used a small hula hoop that had been abandoned behind the dresser, 4 sheer curtain panels from the living room window that had been replaced by drapes, and 6 rolls of sheer ribbon from the clearance rack at the craft store. You will also need a needle and thread, scissors, and a ceiling hook to hang it up.

2. Break the hula hoop. Don't worry, it goes back together. Find the seam (mine was hiding under the upc sticker) and pull it apart.
3. Thread on the curtain panels. You could also use a bolt of tulle, a couple of bed sheets, or lightweight fabric of your choice. Just sew a pocket at the top to thread the hoop through. When you are done, put the hoop back together and secure with a piece of packing tape.
4. Well, technically you could be done here, but that would be boring. Here is where you personalize it. Add ribbons, flowers, strings of beads, whatever you want!  I used ribbons in green, pink, blue, and purple. Just eyeball the length to make it as long as you want, cut it up, and space it evenly around the hoop. Mine went on every 6 inches or so. I tried to cheat and use my handy liquid stitch fabric glue, but the sheer curtains with the sheer ribbons was just too much sheer for the glue and it wouldn't stick. So I had to sew it by hand.
5. Next, tie two lengths of ribbon, string, yarn, fishing line, wire- whatever you want, across the top of the hoop in cross shape. This is your hanger.

6. Put in your ceiling hook. Make sure you anchor it in properly- find a stud, use the little plastic cover for your screw, etc. Then hang your canopy and pull on it to make sure it isn't going to fall down. It took me three tries! In the end, I'm not too worried because it isn't heavy. if it falls on her during the night it won't hurt, and all that sheer won't suffocate her. if you use a different fabric, be extra sure it isn't going to fall down when rolled over, tugged on, pulled for peek a boo, or whatever.

7. Hang and admire!

Pajama Jam

When I was growing up my  mom sewed a lot of our clothes. I could pretty much count on a new spring dress and a pair of new pajamas every year. Although I am not nearly as proficient with the sewing machine as she was, I have tried to continue that tradition with my own kids.
My theme for the handmade Christmas gifts I making this year is "stuff I've already got in the stash." What is the fancy name for that? Upcycled? Thrifty? I am good with "free."
Anyway, I pulled out all my flannel scraps and played with the patterns until I had a few prints I could make each child a pair of pajama pants with. I used my trusty simplicity pattern for the two big kids pants, and just traced a pair of pj pants that I knew already fit for my toddler.
I only made pants, because we live in the south, where fleecy, long sleeved, flannel pjs would only get used about three times all year. We do better with bare feet, t-shirt tops, and pants that can be cropped into shorts as soon as summer hits. So these pants were destined to be topped with a comfy t-shirt. I couldn't make myself wrap up a package of plain white tees to put under the tree, so I decided to spruce them up a little.
I tried my hand at reverse applique. It turned out OK, but I was unprepared with how hard it is to sew all those tiny curves and details with my plain straight line sewing machine with no quilting attachments. It took a lot longer than I thought it would, and I was pretty much done with sewing for about two weeks afterward. It took a while for me to gain my confidence back. After all that though, here are the results and tiny tutorial for you.

1. Grab a package of plain t-shirts, or use a few you already have. Wash and dry and iron (I never iron, but I did this time. it helped).

2.Turn them inside out and pin on your contrasting fabric. I cut out prints for the pajama pants scraps and outlined in pencil the lines I wanted to sew. Be careful not to pin the fabric through both layers of the t-shirt!

3. Sew over the lines you drew. If you are skilled at applique, go all out. If you are a beginner like yours truly, go for something simple!

4. Next, turn your shirt inside out and cut away the t-shirt material that is inside the shape you sewed. Your design should show through.

 5. All done! Check to make sure you like the way it looks. Add to it if you need to. Turn inside out and trim off any extra fabric or threads.

 Ta-da! Three kids pj sets, all ready for St Nicholas to deliver on Dec 6th!