LB turns 2!

31 10 2011

Another birthday party has come and gone!  This time I adhered to the “1 friend per year of age” rule, so it was a small party.  We considered not even having one, but felt that LB might look back and be all upset that he didn’t have a 2nd birthday party, so now he will just have to be mad at us for something else.  I decided pinterest would be a good place to look for party ideas, and I think that was almost a mistake, because there are TOO MANY ideas, but this is what I came up with.  The theme was Sesame Street, so I made LB a birthday shirt:

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It was simple but took a long time, especially since after stitching down the felt eyes I went to snip the threads and snipped the shirt too!  Moral of the story, don’t sew when you’re tired.  I managed to avoid Party City entirely, which was pretty exciting for me, because hey, one less trip!  I made these little favor bags:

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And came up with some cutesy theme food:

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As I was doing this, I was aware that none of the children attending the party can read and none of the adults probably care if the food is Sesame Street themed.  Heck, I don’t think the kids even ate the food, but boy did they love the juice boxes!  I found themed games on pinterest too, but opted against organized games.  The kids had plenty of fun, and even though he didn’t eat the cake, the expression on LB’s face when the whole cake was set in front of him (with FIRE on it!) was priceless!

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Happy birthday, little one!





Summer goals

22 06 2011

Prompted by The Artful Parent’s great list, I thought I would put together a list of things I’d like to accomplish this summer.  Somehow, committing them to “paper” makes them more likely to actually get done!  BB has been out of school for just over a week and already I feel like I’m falling behind.  (Isn’t that so typical, to see all these great ideas and totally fail to live up to that standard?)  I read this idea of having a daily schedule, which I thought was so great and immediately made one for us.  Well, tell it to LB that he is supposed to nap at 1:00 pm.  Ha!  He has his own ideas and I have already more or less scrapped the whole idea because he remains frustratingly unpredictable in his sleep habits.  I was going to “lesson plan” our weeks so that BB could do something mildly educational or vaguely enriching but so far the best I have managed is using Common Sense Media to choose the least bad TV shows on Netflix.  So here goes nothing, a list of things that I will make a real effort to do this summer, both for me and with the boys, so our summer does not slip away unintentionally. 

The easy stuff: My goals:

  • Make a real garment, not a muslin, for each of the patterns I bought a few weeks ago when they were crazy cheap on sale.  I especially want to try some variations on Simplicity 2599, like this one on presserfoot
  • Make some rompers/overalls for LB.  It only took me a year to realize that this is the way to keep him from sticking his hand in his diaper.  Eureka!
  • Carve at least one new rubber stamp. 

Outdoor goals:

  • Grow a bean pole teepee.  We have already started on this and I’m hopeful it will work out. 
  • Transition BB to a bike with training wheels… he is getting too big for a tricycle, although he loves it!
  • Go swimming with the boys.
  • Do a nature scavenger hunt. 
  • Try to find a few more letterboxes.  We found our first one the other day and it was fun!
  • Go camping!  It’s been 2 years since we last tried it, but once upon a time we were big into camping, maybe this year we can swing it!

Artsy-craftsy goals:

  • Try our very best to do an index card a day, inspired by daisy yellow.  We have started on this but been inconsistent.  I figured this is something BB and I can do while LB naps; it’s a nice way for him to focus on fine motor skills.  He has been doing really well making smaller designs and really enjoying the project.  I got him his own watercolors and oil pastels so we can experiment with lots of different media. 
  • Make some pie plate scarecrows for the garden, a craft I saw in a children’s gardening book. 
  • Continue with some “real” art lessons, color theory, line, shape, texture… a basic look at some things that were presented on pineapple paintbrush not that long ago.  BB was not that into it, a little too advanced for him, but he’s older every day, so we’ll try some more this summer. 

Educational/cultural/social:

  • Go to the library once a week to find new books
  • Have a playdate once a week at least (I am terrible about this) so the kids see someone besides me. 
  • Go to the science museum.
  • Take BB to the art museum after looking at some books of famous painters.
  • Put together at least a few of the activities on the various montessori blogs I follow; they are so full of good ideas and I never do any of them!  Am I the only one whose kids would rather run in circles screaming like banshees than tweeze pom-poms into an ice cube tray?  Well, I am going to try again to get them interested in these motor skills/language/math activities. 
  • Make ice cream and popsicles.  That’s educational, right?  Cultural?  Hmmm, well, it’s something we’ll do for sure, at any rate. 

 

And a final goal for me is to go to bed earlier so I’m not so tired!  Which means less of this and more ZZZZZZZZZzzzzzzzzzzZZZZZZZZZ!  So here’s a quick look at a recent project now that I have my camera back (yay!), a pair of shorts I made for LB (a mere days before I decided he should spend all summer in overalls).  I went to a garage sale up the street and bought a hideous pink chair with the goal of learning to reupholster and/or make a slipcover, both incredibly practical things I don’t know how to do.  I was looking at some women’s shirts and the lady threw them in with the chair, so hey, free shorts!

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I used the sleeves, which was great, men’s shirts always have cuffs but this shirt, being a women’s shirt and unfettered by such rules, did not.  I cut two legs (remembering to make a right AND a left, not two lefts like in my most recent pants project), sewed them up at the crotch, decided to add pockets, put in an elastic waist and voila!  Shorts!  Without the pockets it would take less than half an hour but those were a little time consuming.  They really make the shorts look a lot nicer though so it was time well spent.  I am currently (slooowwwwlllyy) trying to eke out a pair for BB of the remaining fabric, which is full of darts and whatnot that lazy me didn’t pick out. 

Happy summer to all 2 of you that read this!





Winter Blahs

15 02 2011

I officially have the winter blahs.  I have no energy or motivation to tackle big projects.  These days the mundane has taken over… I finished Big Project #1: our taxes.  Now I was going to work on Big Project #2: our annual photo book.  Since the kids were born we have been making an annual book with highlights from the year, since all our pictures are digital and we never get prints of them.  It’s a huge project (especially with my computer on the fritz), we have thousands and thousands of pictures, and I was going to work on it tonight, but it’s already time to give up for the day.  By the time the dishes are done, the laundry is run, the kitchen’s cleaned up, the toys put away (OK, some tv watched too), there is just no time for the big projects.  I thought instead I would quickly post some of the things we have been up to. 

For the Chinese new year, the boys an I did some ink wash paintings, an idea I saw (as usual) on the Crafty Crow.  I did a rabbit and BB did his best to imitate it.  Below is my rabbit, then sequentially the 3 that he did. 

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In my head I call them “Monkey”, “Evil Duck”, and “Almost a bunny”. 

I love the way they look up on the wall.  When we took down the Christmas cards, the wall looked so empty.  My husband is actually the one who suggested leaving up the string and clothespins and just hanging the kids’ art.  It’s a great idea!  Things on the fridge get knocked down all the time, so this gives us a nice way to put up their drawings and paintings. 

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The only project I have checked off my list is a weekly calendar.  It’s something I have wanted for a long, long time.  I bought several dry erase boards but could never get the setup quite right, and I wanted something easy and visual to have up for BB to see what was going on this week.  It’s not perfect but fortunately I am not a perfectionist. 

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I wish I had a “before” picture, but essentially it’s 2 dry erase boards from Walmart with the frames ripped off, then I hot glued supports across the top and bottom (hence the bumpiness of the frame), and also in 3 places on the back.  I kept on gluing and hot glued fabric around the edges to hide the cheap cardboard.  Then I used a sharpie to make the days.  I made magnets using promotional magnets we had on the fridge just by mod-podging on pictures I found. 

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Also not perfect.  Everything I’ve ever mod-podged is a lumpy mess.  But that’s OK because BB knows what they are, and that’s what matters.  I made 2 for the Y to denote preschool days for BB, then a birthday party, and various ones for places we often go.  I even did one with my parents so I can mark when they are coming… that’s a big event for us!

Other than that, I have been reading like crazy.  I took a book on vacation and just haven’t stopped since.  It’s a great winter activity so I don’t fight it.  Besides, it’s good for my kids to see me reading, right?  With my computer in its declining years and semi-retired to the top of the TV for the purposes of streaming Netflix, I have been way behind in my blog reading, which is probably a big part of why I can’t get up the motivation to sew anything… looking at other people’s work is always a big inspiration.  That may continue for the indefinite future, but I do have hopes of using up my fabric stash before we move (about 15 months), so at least I have a goal, maybe something will come of that deadline!





Back to reality (+ shirt showcase)

17 01 2011

Hi all!  (To all 2 people who might be reading this.)  I’ve been gone again from the blogosphere, on vacation again, and then sick with a stomach bug.  But now things are getting back to normal and I thought I’d share a few pics.  They are all taken with my iPod (a Christmas gift) because on vacation I didn’t carry a purse, so I didn’t carry my camera, but I found I could carry the iPod in my pocket.  I am completely in love with it, and may have gone a little hipstamatic-crazy (much to my husband’s annoyance; he likes pictures SOOC, but I think the iPod photos are so sub-par it doesn’t hurt to make them more interesting).  Here are some of my favorite pictures:

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(There is a gecko in the lower right-hand picture).  Oh, these are from the Dominican Republic, which is where we had our big family-reunion-type vacation.  I have it in mind to print these 4 pictures and make a real collage like this to hang up…

Anyway, I made the boys matching shirts, but unfortunately BB refused to wear his.  That’s gratitude for you!  Here’s LB sporting his:

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Here he is wandering off in his beach shirt while I have a beer:

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Yeah, it was nice to be on vacation. 

The shirt is another raglan.  Now that I’m familiar with the pattern, they go together super quick and I really like the look.  The fabric was this jersey I got ages ago in a red-tag clearance at Joann, it has a print of palm trees and waves, and some tiki-looking things, very tropical.  I was so bummed that I couldn’t get both boys in them together.  Oh well!  Gotta pick your battles.  I also have some pictures of LB in his birthday shirts that I made a while ago (for his birthday obviously, which was in November). 

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This one says “all-star birthday” on the front and has his name and the “01” on the back like a sports jersey.  I did the same thing for BB’s 1st birthday so I didn’t want LB to be left out.  I also made a shirt that said “Look who’s 1!”  What can I say?  I got motivated, he got shirts!

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We had a great time, but it is nice to be back at home!





Advent, week 3

22 12 2010

Can you believe Christmas is almost here already?  I look at our advent tree and see those three ornaments left and just wonder where the time went.  At least I can say our Christmas cards went out; this is the first year we have managed that feat before Christmas has come and gone!

We have been busy with our activities; here’s the rundown:

Day 16: Make cinnamon ornaments.  I had seen a ton of ideas on the Crafty Crow for making ornaments but I really liked this idea from 5 Orange Potatoes because (1) it was made using things I have on hand and (2) it’s like cutting playdough which is always a hit in our house.  It was really easy, just mix 1 cup applesauce, 1 cup cinnamon, and 1 tablespoon glue.  Roll out, cut shapes and let dry.  I did as suggested and baked them at 200F and flipped them every 15 minutes till dry.  Patience is not my forte!

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I did make holes before baking, with a straw for the big ones and a toothpick for the small ones.  It made lots and lots!  We decorated some with glitter glue and some we left plain, made pipe cleaner loops and strung them up as a garland. 

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Day 17: Make Christmas trees.  This was just a catch-all craft category on a day I didn’t have much time to spare.  We did these trees from Frugal Family Fun Blog, though they didn’t work so well with construction paper (a little too floppy).  Not surprising but I just used what I had!  BB stamped it and glued on sparkly snowflakes.  Then we did a tissue paper on contact paper craft like our autumn tree.  I had had some more in mind but there wasn’t time. 

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Day 18: Take a winter hike.  My husband was actually home, so we were able to all go out to Wild Wings and see the birds of prey, then take a short hike to feed the chickadees.  They come to eat out of your hand, which is not really the least invasive way to observe nature, but it’s LOTS of fun. 

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I mean, holding a bird in your hand, how cool is that?!?

Day 19: Make a gingerbread village.  Here’s another one where I came to my senses.  I mean, we’re not going to eat it, so does it really have to be home baked?  I bought a Wilton kit on sale and figured it was cheaper that way since I didn’t have to buy lots of candy for decorating.  It was a lot harder than I expected, and I had to do most of it because the frosting was so hard to work with that BB couldn’t really use it at all.  But he happily sprinkled candy on the rooftops of the houses.  I worked as fast as I could to keep up with him and the result is not much like the picture but it’s a cute little centerpiece for the table. 

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Day 20: Make ice cream.  This was one of those things that was maybe more for me, and for the convenience of using up cream that was about to go bad, but ended up with stellar results.  Described in detail in the previous post, should you want to try this. 

Day 21: Make gifts for teachers.  Last year I was up half the night making chocolate dipped pretzels, so I swore this year I would find something easier.  I had seen this recipe for hot chocolate on a stick on giverslog a while back and decided this would be it.  A little risky doing something for the first time when you need it to work…sure enough, they did not release well from the molds and the look a little wonky.  BUT!  Finally I have a gift that BB could help with.  To go with the hot chocolate on a stick I used our homemade marshmallows to do some cutouts and we decorated them with colored sugar.  Who wouldn’t love hot chocolate and marshmallows?  (I’m hoping the answer is not “BB’s teachers”.)

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Day 22: Make cookies.  This was another practical one since I need to take cookies for BB’s Christmas party tomorrow.  Fun!  We made lots and took some to the neighbors too, and still have lots left for eating.  I made some baby-sized cookies with the last bit of dough; they are a much more reasonable size, IMHO.  The ones for school are unfrosted (they will be decorating them at the party) but I made some icing and we used our leftover colored sugar and gingerbread village decorations to decorate a few for immediate consumption. 

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Yum!  The next few days will be pretty simple; Christmas party at school, Christmas eve service, and then Christmas day!  So this is the end of my little advent series.  We have had a great time and I wonder what we will do from here… quite possibly more “educational” type stuff will fill our days.  BB has shown an interest in writing letters and spelling words, and counting too, so I might try to set up some school time to keep us busy.  Hope you have a wonderful Christmas!





Advent Calendar and Activities

30 11 2010

Inspired by several advent calendars on the web (several on The Crafty Crow, and in particular this one from The Artful Parent), I decided to make one for us.  I wanted one that could be re-used though, plus I have fabric and an inclination to sew things so this is what I did:

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It didn’t come out quite like I had in mind but I’m happy with it nonetheless.  The ornaments are 2 layers of felt and are all attached by snaps, which I have lots of and need to use up.  BB and I decorated the round ones with glitter glue, and the rest are supposed to be a string of lights. 

Now I am working on a list of activities, and each day, BB will have to find the date (good practice identifying numbers!) and on the back will be our activity for the day.  I’m doing them just on little dot stickers:

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This is my list, which is a working document.  I decided against putting them all up at once, because some, like taking a winter hike, will be weather dependent, and others, like driving at night to see the lights, will be dependent on someone not waking up so early he barely lasts till sunset. 

Advent activities:

  1. Put up decorations
  2. Park avenue holiday open house, 5pm onward
  3. Make a garland
  4. Christmas party
  5. Set up our tree.
  6. Decorate our own wrapping paper.
  7. Candlelight night in Pittsford 4pm onwards
  8. Make pinecone ornaments for the birds and hang outside.
  9. Bake gingerbread house.
  10. .  Assemble and decorate gingerbread house.
  11. .  Holly Trolley
  12. . Make Christmas gifts.
  13. . Write a letter to Santa.
  14. . Decorate ornaments.
  15. . Decorate and sew pillows as gifts (using Pentel fabric crayons).
  16. . Make snowflake window decorations.
  17. . Make candy cane playdough.
  18. . Go for a winter nature hike.
  19. . Play games and drink hot chocolate.
  20. . Bake Christmas cookies.
  21. . Invite a couple friends over to decorate cookies.
  22. . Make popcorn and watch a Christmas movie together.
  23. . Go for a drive to look at Christmas lights.
  24. . Christmas Eve Service
  25. . Make pumpkin waffles with whipped cream for Christmas breakfast.
  • Head to the library to pick out some Christmas books.
  • Build a nativity set. 
  • Bake gingerbread men
  • Take donation to Lollypop Farms (humane society)
  • Buy a toy for a toy drive. 

I put up just a few activities to get us started tomorrow, and then I’ll be working on the list as we go and putting up more activities on the tree.  I would really like to do more activities that focus on giving to others, as well as those that help understand the meaning of Christmas, which I have done a terrible job of so far.  We read a story by Frank McCourt called Angela and the Baby Jesus, and now BB is asking all these random questions like “Why didn’t the baby Jesus have a blanket?  Will baby Jesus be coming here for his birthday?”  Um, what?  In general I am not very good at explaining things on a three-year-old’s level and this one is really tricky.  If anyone knows some good books, by all means, let me know!  I love the idea of activities for every day, because it really emphasizes presence over presents.  If you haven’t seen it before, check out Advent Conspiracy; I think it’s one of the best ideas I’ve ever heard:

Link to video because I can’t figure out how to embed! Gah!





Recent Sewing Projects

20 07 2010

OK, I realize that’s pretty generic.  I haven’t been posting much because I’ve been busy with other things (ummm… like 2 children).  It seems like by the time I get the kids in bed, I have time to accomplish one of the following:

  1. clean up
  2. work on a crafty project
  3. prepare food
  4. blog
  5. waste time on the computer.

At least it’s summer so there’s nothing on tv to add into the mix!  I marvel that people blog every day, let alone carry out the projects described on the blog, but I remind myself that a lot of those are commercially sponsored and therefore essentially real jobs, not just hobbies.  Anyway, I have been hard at work on 4 of those 5 things, although #2 is the only one that I have anything to show for.  Somehow, you can clean up and make food over and over and over, and you still have to do it again!  So here’s what’s been keeping me busy lately:

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These are some Tinkle Time Trainers, made in the hopes of getting BB potty trained.  He turns 3 today!  So far, no luck.  He loves them, and wants to wear them, and will tell me all morning “I’m not peeing or pooing in my underpants!” up until he does and then it’s “Mom, I need a diaper change.”  Sigh.  They are not waterproof but they are lightly padded, so these accidents will get his shorts wet, but not the carpet.  Let’s just say it’s working better than real underpants…that was a mess.

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So we just made friends with our neighbors, who have a little girl about BB’s age.  They were throwing out a doll stroller and I walked over to their house and snagged it from the curb.  It’s the first time I have picked up someone else’s trash, and I was a little embarrassed, but it was for a good cause.  See, BB always wants to push the stroller if we are going for a walk with LB.  Well, after crashing into this that and the other, it got to the point that I couldn’t take both of them out with a stroller; I carry LB and BB walks.  But, I figured that if BB had his own stroller, then he could push his, I could push mine, and we’d all be much happier.  So I snagged the old stroller.  I don’t have a “before” picture, but the seat was dirty and moldy from being left in the garage, since it was their second doll stroller.  But here it is all spiffed up!  I traced the old seat onto some fabric, bound it up in fold over elastic that I have left over from diaper making, and added this strap from a shopping cart cover.  It feeds through 2 large buttonholes in the seat, and it was the first time I’d done a buttonhole on my new machine, and it was awesome.  I’m very happy with the way it came out, and even more happy that now we can take our walks in peace.

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This was a quick one… I picked up some fabric markers from Joann one day when they were on sale, and drew a Lorax on an old undershirt that my husband had sacrificed to the scrap bin.  I know what you’re thinking, “Wow, you are talented to draw something like that!”  Not at all.  How I did it was I printed out a picture, traced in in sharpie to make it darker, taped it under the shirt, then traced it.  I will take credit for a clever idea that made it possible though: I made a light box.  I couldn’t see well enough to trace just on a table, so I set a lamp under a glass coffee table, placed the paper + shirt on top, and voila!  Light box.  The tracing was easy after that.  Then I just sewed it on an Old Navy shirt.  BB loves this too; The Lorax is one of his favorite books and I had been wanting to do this for a long time.  He wore it for 2 days straight.

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Then I finally got around to trying out this onesie with binding tutorial that I saw back in February (!).  I love how it came out!  It fits LB like a casing fits a sausage and it’s adorable but I will probably go bigger if I do another one.  It’s his beach outfit!

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Finally, this wasn’t a sewing project but it’s also one I just finished recently.  So I bought this white carter’s onesie at a rummage sale, thinking I would dye it and paint it.  Well, when I dyed it, some stains really showed up, taking the dye up unevenly.  So, like before, I decided to paint over it.  And I did it the really easy way…I used the same stencil!  Last time I wanted a painted giraffe, so I cut out a giraffe shape and used the “frame”…well, I saved that giraffe.  This time all I had to do was iron it on, and make a square frame of freezer paper.  I did a gradient of blue to red to yellow, which was supposed to look like a giraffe silhouette at sunset, but BB thought it was a fire.  Hmmmm… Well, anyway, it covers the stain, which was between the giraffe’s legs.  It looks better when he’s standing up, although he can’t really do that yet…Hmmmmm…  Well, it’s cute.  And if he learns to stand soon, it might still fit…

So, that’s what’s new around here!  I will probably try another of the onesies with binding; I think it will be much easier the second time around.  He will look so spiffy at the beach!