Monday, December 20, 2010

Baby Quilt: Sleeping Animals

This baby quilt pattern is one of my all-time favorites.  I had this quilt made by a friend of my Mom's that had two bears appliqued like they were sleeping under the quilt, one awake and one asleep.  I've made it for two of my own friends now, and just finished the second one yesterday.

My friend Doris (best friend from high school) asked for a Winnie the Pooh quilt for her baby girl that's due in January.  I spent a really long time trying to figure out a pattern and finally thought of doing this one!  So I used my normal applique method of finding color pages and free handing very very simple shapes.  I used fleece and steam a seam so I didn't have to turn under any seams.  I did stitch everything down on my machine just to be safe.

The super cute winnie-the-pooh print is made it take so long to find a pattern.  I needed one that would show off the various scenes on the print.  Usually I do more scrappy quilts. =)  I finally decided to turn them into eight point stars to frame the print.  Pink background, as requested by the mama-to-be =)   I hope she loves it!  And know she's too busy at this point to be checking out my blog, as it's just going in the mail now.  

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Advent Activity: Hand and Footprint Reindeer

Well, today was one of those days =)  We had just gotten in at midnight, and Serenity woke up sick at her stomach in the middle of the night.  Needless to say, I didn’t manage to fill the advent calendar before we got up.  On the plus side, Serenity was feeling much better by morning, and ran right to it saying, “We need to check my advent calendar!!!!!”  So I used the, “look, there’s a monkey!” tactic while sneakily slipping an activity into the calendar.  The activity was Craft!  I have a looong list of ideas for crafts that I’d love to do this season.  We’ll see how far we get, but today we did a handprint reindeer.  I saw the idea here at Oopsey Daisy. 

It turned out super cute, but I do have a few notes to add on the process.  First, she says to angle the hands more than she did, and so I angled the paper sharply because trying to position a toddler’s hand is easier said than done.  Second, I noticed that it’s important to put the heel of the foot slightly under the top of the handprints, so that it looks like the antlers are on top of the head.  Otherwise it ends up looking a little bit like Krusty the Clown, a very scary prospect.  Serenity was delighted with her Rudolphs!  She did insist that the reindeers be red, which is why our handprints are red instead of green like the example.  Everything must match in Serenity’s world!  

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Our Advent Calendar

I have this great advent calendar I got from Pottery Barn Kids as my Christmas decor splurge last year. (I try and add one fun thing each year =)  We had a blast with it last year, and so far this year is just as much fun!  Even more so because Serenity actually asks to check her advent calendar each day =)  But instead of being all organized, I'm having to scramble every day to fill the thing =)  So in case there are any more of you out there looking for ideas, here's the list I finally assembled for the calendar, plus the activities we've already done! 

Advent Calendar List
1. Sing.  Serenity's favorite Christmas carol is Jingle Bells, so we sang that right away, plus I made a new mix cd of Christmas music for the car.  Although my cd player malfunctioned so we ended up singing Christmas carols all over town, which was a blast!
 2. Puzzle.  I got a new holiday puzzle from the dollar section of Target, my home away from home.
3. Read.  We read a brand new Christmas book, Llama Llama Holiday Drama.  Have since read it about fifty times so I declare it a hit!
4. Cookie Exchange Party.  This is an annual event for us.  Our friends and their kids come over and we each bake different kinds of cookies and trade.  Yummy and fun!  We try to do games and crafts too. 
5. Make Presents.  I got some green foam Christmas trees that we decorated with foam stickers for all the grandparents.  So far they are a hit!
6. Read.  I found the Grinch Who Stole Christmas at Kohl's.  The proceeds are donated so I always love getting those books and the toys that go with them.  This book was a little long for my two year old, but she loved the part where the Whos all sing, and sang La la la la  along with them =)
7. Decorate.  My tree is already up but we went to Grandma's house and helped her decorate her outdoor tree!  Serenity loves moving ornaments around, and ooohs and ahhhs over Christmas lights and ornaments.
8. Candy Cane Hunt.  I hid candy canes in the yard.  Such fun!  This was a new idea for us and I will definitely be repeating it.
9. Christmas in the Park (a local event with Christmas decorations and booths.)
10. Bake a Pretzel or Cannelle bouleh
11. Christmas Presents and Pancakes
12. Neighborhood Walk to see Stars and Lights, or Happy Hollow Zoo??
13. Backyard Game (Croquet?)
14. Decorate Serenity’s Room for Christmas (Posterboard Tree? Lights?)
15. See Santa
16. Watch Home Movies (I make a greatest hits dvd once a year for us to watch)
17. Make Digital Christmas Cards and Mail Them (stickers for Serenity, add stamps to envelope?)
18. Play Board Game (Hippo?  Or Tangrams?)
19. Craft (fingerprint snowmen)
20. Christmas Movie with Popcorn
21. Drive to see Lights
22. Add a Photo Ornament to tree
23. Bake and Decorate Cookies (and Sand Tarts)
24. Read Nativity Story
25. Still not sure about this, in an ideal world I'd have a nativity set she could play with and put baby Jesus in today, but we'll see!

I also have a ton of craft ideas filling up my google reader that I want to do!  This week is crazy but next week I hope to start posting our versions of those great ideas! 

hot chocolate
breakfast for dinner
see horses
make candy/cookies

Friday, December 3, 2010

Jedi Birthday Party!

Party Day! 

Well, we had one happy Jedi birthday boy today =)  Everyone had a blast, and I’m excited to share the details! 

Upon arrival every Jedi received his robe and lightsaber and prepared to enter the Jedi Academy! (The lightsabers here were great fun, but order extra because a lot of them didn't light completely.)

There were four tasks to hone their Jedi skills.  First: Lightsaber Technique.  Keep a balloon up in the air as long as possible using a lightsaber.  The kids went absolutely nuts for this game, played it on and off for the entire party.  And, as an added bonus, it kept them from hitting each other with their lightsabers too often. =) 

Second Task: Jedi Agility.  I used a red plastic tablecloth to represent the lava planet, and they had to cross it safely by touching only the black rocks.  Eric added an extra dimension of trying to cross it quickly enough to stop a balloon he threw in the air from hitting the ground. 

Third Task: Jedi Speed.  I set up a simple obstacle course of cones that the kids had to run and jump through, and then they ended by defeating a stormtrooper with their lightsabers.  (Found idea here)

Fourth Task: Aim and Accuracy.   I had been wanting to build a cornhole board game since we played it at Eric’s Aunt’s house this summer, and this was the perfect opportunity!  My dad and I built it generally using the instructions from here.  It was very sturdy, which is good as my two year old likes to use it as a slide.  I sewed the corn bags and the Jedis practiced their throwing skills.  Using the Force, of course. 

After some crazy playtime, we took a brief break for pizza.  After pizza, we took each of the kids pictures with this X-Wing that we built from cardboard.  I even made an instrument panel for the cockpit and R2D2, although tragically R2D2 fell out of the car and didn’t make it to the party. (I did get some setup pictures with R2D2 though =) We’ll play with him later.) 

Then, we had a surprise attack from Darth Vader!  Vader reveled in the opportunity to attack the Jedi Academy,  although he was soundly defeated by the Jedis. 

Finally, we had a Death Star Pinata. (You can see it in the background of the picture above, along with my daughter trying desperately to reach it because she is aware that there is candy inside) This was a lot of fun, although it was my first piñata and my first paper mache in a long time and I made several mistakes.  First of all, two days before is not soon enough to start.  Second, let the first layer dry completely before adding more.  The inside was still soggy 36 hours later.  So what I ended up with was a very sturdy outside, but a flexible structure, so all the kids got to beat on it but it just got flatter and flatter instead of breaking!  So moral of the story, piñatas need to be started first on the project list, and dry between layers even if you manage to find one single website that says you don’t have to =) 

I filled the piñata with candy and little Star Wars figurines, (I think the kids wanted the little guys even more than the candy, they left some candy behind!) 

Barrett doesn’t like cake or ice cream, so he requested Star Wars donuts!  Aren’t they cute?  

Every Jedi received a training certificate that I found through Tip Junkie's site.

Oh, and Serenity actually wore her Yoda Hat!  Here's the instructions on how to make your own.  

Follow the links to find out where I found tutorials or purchased my supplies! =)

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Jedi Preview!

Jedi Birthday Party!!!

Here’s a sneak preview of what I’ve been working on like a maniac for the last week!!! 

One R2D2 head: (white bowl, sticky felt and foam)

One instrument panel

One Yoda hat:

Here’s how to make your own yoda hat.  I used minkee but fleece would also work well I think.  I just had the minkee and it was one of those late night projects =)  So…

1.)  Cut two rectangles four inches by 8 inches, and then cut an angle in an inch on the top and bottom so that you end up with a sort of triangle shape that’s four inches wide on one side and two inches wide on the other side.  Then sew these up in kind of a wavy fashion, so it looks like Yoda ears.  If you want them to stand out well, add some pipe cleaners or wire, but I’m giving mine to a two year old so I kept them soft =) 

2.)  Cut four sort of rounded wedge shapes to make the body of the hat.  I used a toddler hat we already had for a pattern, but it was just about six inches from point to point on the bottom, and on each side to the top, rounded though.  Sew two sets of two together. 

3.)  Insert an ear between the two sides, about an inch from the bottom.  Sew the last two sides together. 

4.)  Add a rim on the bottom.  As I don’t have a serger, I just cut a four by about 22 inch strip, and folded it in half, and then sewed this to the top.  That way I don’t have too many raw edges to worry about.  It was easy!  Took like half an hour making the pattern and all, although I did have to rip one seam when I discovered the ear really couldn’t be right at the bottom where I put it the first time.  That inch up is very important!   

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving... a picture of mine =)

Two posts in one day!  That's more like it =)  Well, maybe they're both quickies but still.  Here's a picture of my Thanksgiving centerpiece.  Pumpkins leftover from our pumpkin patch visit, and a floral centerpiece. 

To make this centerpiece yourself, here's a list of the flowers I chose.  First, in a short rectangular vase, start with an antique green hydrangea and an ornamental kale.  They're nice and big so they fill the vase well and hold the rest of the flowers in place.  They hydrangea is a bit pricey but it makes up for it by taking up so much space!  Then I added a lily, some celosia, two peonies, a few cymbidium orchids, and some parrot tulips.  It's a fun mix!

And then here's my menu, which would be a good Christmas menu too.  So I'll go ahead and publish it even though it's too late for Thanksgiving ideas =) 
Carolyn's Orange Rolls
Orange Apricot glazed turkey (Basically just stick orange slices and butter under the skin of the turkey breast, pour chicken stock and brush with apricot jelly, bake as directed on package.)
Green Bean Casserole

Sweet Potato, Onion, Potato, Parmesan casserole (just slice and layer those ingredients, add some chicken broth, butter, and parmesan, then bake for an hour.  Easy and yummy!)

Cranberry sauce

Pumpkin Pie with Cranberry Topping (An experiment this year that turned out yummy!)
Coconut Pie

I was really happy with this because really I managed to do all the prep (except for the dough that I made the night before)  in about an hour and a half in the morning, and then all I had to do was stick things in the oven at the right time.  =) 

Happy Thanksgiving!

Well, we managed to make a turkey craft, just barely!  I finally got some new sticky foam, my go-to craft supply for my two year old, so we were back in business.  And here it is!  She spelled Happy herself =) 

The first turkey I just asked her what color feathers she wanted to do... The second time she chose everything from the paper, to the feathers, to the body =)  Can you imagine that she chose pink?  It would have been solid pink but I didn't have any big pink pieces of foam so she went for purple =) 

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Frog Prince Quilt

Here is a quilt that I made a while ago for my friends the Hoppers.  They planned on a frog theme for their son Nate's nursery, so I decided to make him a frog prince quilt!  I used a couple of applique techniques, including the freezer paper kind for the hearts and circles, and then using iron on steam a seam for the frogs and stitching around it on my machine.  I just sketched a very simple frog, gave him a crown, and added golden balls to complete the story. =)  The pattern is simple, I just used various sizes of squares and rectangles to give it a fun, flowing look. 

It's a great design for someone new to quilting or applique, because the piecing is all straight lines, and there's just a little bit of the applique.  I usually use coloring books or just sketch very simple things to applique, I don't get enough practice to consider myself good at it, I feel like I relearn it every time! 

Monday, November 15, 2010

Party Idea: Thanksgiving on a Stick

Party Idea:  Thanksgiving on a Stick

When we lived in California, every Thanksgiving we would have two dinners, one with Eric’s family and one with friends.  I got to help out a lot with the cooking for the friend dinner, and it was a blast because Patricia and I would try to come up with some sort of twist so the food was a little different than the traditional meal so no one got tired of having the same food twice.  Although I never get tired of turkey.  Still, it’s fun to play! 

One year we decided to have Thanksgiving on a Stick.  We made turkey kabobs, and put turkey, cranberries, potatoes, sweet potatoes, and even corn on the cob right on to the skewers!  We just used our favorite turkey marinade to keep the meat moist.  It was fun and so very easy!  I think the only problem was the potatoes weren’t quite as done as I usually like, next time I will probably par-boil them for a few minutes first so they get done at the same time as everything else.  We made a gravy and cranberry sauce for dipping. 

And for dessert, of course we had fondue!  Marshmallows, rice krispie treats, and various fruit!  We did a basic chocolate, but it might be fun to try this Spiked Cranberry Orange Fondue (maybe make pumpkin bars to dip in it, yum!) or Mexican Hot Chocolate.  

Friday, November 12, 2010

A Little Cardboard Fun

Well, I got off work a little bit early and so had some baby-free time to get a little preliminary Christmas shopping done.  Which is dangerous for me, because I really can't seem to hold presents until Christmas if I have more than a month to wait.  I bought a steering wheel to add to Serenity's outdoor playstructure, and then immediately pulled it out for her to play with =)  She really loves this Dora episode where Isa the Iguana is steering a boat, and after watching her play with it on the floor for a day or so I had this little brainstorm...

Yes, my living room is now filled with a big, cardboard sailboat.  We've had a blast with it though!  It's pretty simple to make.  I cut off about a foot and a half from the bottom of a dishwasher box, and then cut out a shape that looked boat-like to me for the bottom of the boat.  Making the sail was a little more complicated, I used a long piece of cardboard and wrapped it into a tall rectangle, and then cut slits in the bottom of the boat and slid the flaps at the bottom of the rectangle into it, and taped it down.  I used one of our silk scarves for a sail, and rigged her fancy new steering wheel on a cardboard box.  You could make a wheel out of cardboard too though!  She's had a lot of fun with this, pretending to fish, asking me for a yellow coat and blue hat (like Little Bear wears in Gone Fishing) and of course, turning the wheel.

This would be great fun for a sailing birthday party =)  I drew on the waves, but you could let the kids decorate it with paints or poster markers.  

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Library Book Review: Little Pea

Serenity and I go to the library at least once a week, so I've worked up quite a list of books now that we both love!  I thought I'd post about some of them now and again in case someone is looking for new book recommendations! 

Today we got Little Pea, by Amy Krouse Rosenthall.  It was wonderful!  The story is about a happy little pea that loves a lot of things, but hates candy.  Peas have to eat candy for dinner every night, and he hates candy.  I don't think Serenity really understands the whole irony thing, but she finds it hilarious when he's forced to eat his candy and says, "yuck, blech" and so on.  And when he finally gets to eat his dessert, he says "yum, yum, extra yum!" which also sends her into a fit of giggles.  =)  So probably a slightly older kid would find it even funnier, but she's still loving it at age two =)   

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Fall Wreath =)

Well, I think it still counts as fall at least, my trees still have some leaves, so this isn't too late.  My friend Abbey hosted a great wreath making party.  They all made holiday wreaths but I just couldn't justify buying new supplies when I had this project all planned out!  I had been wanting to make a big letter W for our front door, and when I saw this tutorial on the Thrifty Decor Chick, I thought I could adjust it to work for mine!  I admit my leaves are not from the dollar store, they are from Jo-Ann's, but I got them last year when Fall stuff went on 90% off so it was still a good deal =)  And here is the result!

A little x-acto knife on a foam board, some hot glue and voila!  =)  Very easy!  I haven't decided if I want it on the front door or on my mantel, we'll see.  I got some chocolate satin to hang it with. 

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

DIY Nursery Art: Serenity's Storybook Nursery

Since my first pregnancy seemed to take FOREVER, I had plenty of time for lots of crafting!  I settled on a storybook theme, figuring it would work for a boy or a girl and I just couldn't wait twenty whole weeks to start making baby stuff.  One of the first projects I tackled was this easy canvas wall art.  We were living in an apartment that we didn't plan to paint, so the nursery needed lots of color!  Here's how I got it:

I wanted alphabet wall art that fit my storybook theme, so I chose a different fairy tale or character from my favorite books for each letter of the alphabet.  Let me tell you now, some letters are easier than others.  I almost gave up on I and Q. But first, here is how I did it.  The process is very simple.  I just found coloring books or free coloring pages from all over the internet for each section of my pictures.  Then I held the picture and the canvas up to the window and traced it in pencil onto the canvas.  I printed the letter in a font I liked (I used Dolphin I believe) and traced it as well.  Then I used bright acrylic paints to fill in the colors.  Then for the challenging part =)  I traced around all the pencil lines with a black sharpie.  Veeerry carefully.  I went through several sharpies, they get dull after a while! 

I bought 3 canvases in size 18 by 20 and 3 in 20 by 20.  I really liked the square ones best but I got a great deal on the 18 by 20.  I put four or five letters on each one.  I planned to hang them two across by three down, so I got out my colored pencils and planned the colors so that the same color was never next to it.  I also made it work in case I decided to hang it in one long line, which I have also done. =)

Here is the A-D canvas.   You can see that I didn't want all the squares to be the same size, so I mixed it up.  Some are ten by ten, Curious George is ten by twelve, and so on.  Graph paper and colored pencils were my best friend on this project =)

And then here is the list of what each letter stands for (with extra options in parenthesis)

A: Alice in Wonderland (Ariel)
B: Babar (Berenstain Bears)
C: Curious George (Cheshire Cat, Care Bears, Corduroy)
D: Dragon (I was thinking of the one in the Paper Bag Princess, but Serenity thinks it's a pic of a dinosaur anyway. =)
E: Eeyore (Eloise)
F: Fairy (We used Tinkerbell here because we had lots of cute T choices.  Also considered Fish for Rainbow Fish)
G: Gonzo (Had to have a muppet.  Also the Genie from Aladdin)
H: Harry Potter
I: Inigo Montoya (This was the HARDEST!  I also considered Incredibles but they aren't really from a book...  Anyway, to get this picture I took a picture of Captain Hook and modified it to look more like the guy from the movie.  Princess Bride is a great book at least =)
J: Jemima Puddleduck (Jasmine.  I didn't want TOO many Disney Princesses on here though, and Beatrix Potter rocks.)
K: Kanga and Roo (Ditto with too many Winnie the Pooh characters, two was pushing it but I didn't have a better K and I HAD to use eeyore =)
L: Little Mermaid (Little Bo Peep)
M: Madeline (Mulan, Mouse from the Give a Mouse a Cookie book.)
N: Nancy Drew (Also hard to get a good pic of, I was proud it turned out slightly recognizable. Thought of Narnia but how do you draw that?)
O: Oz (I can't believe it now, but back then I didn't know Olivia the Pig!!!  So much easier to draw!)
P: Paddington Bear (Peter Rabbit, Pippi Longstocking, Peter Pan, Puff the Magic Dragon)
Q: Queen Lucy of Narnia (Cheating a little bit, but I just don't like the Queen of Hearts! And this way I worked the Narnia books in.)
R: Raggedy Ann and Andy (Rainbow Fish)
S: Snow White (Sam I am)
T: Thing One and Thing Two (Tikki Tikki Tembo, Tinkerbell, Tigger)
U: Unicorn (From the Last Unicorn... Hence the purple mane and tail, although that's just in the cartoon version.)
V: Velveteen Rabbit
W: Wild Things
X: X-Men (Also a stretch.  My friend Jack drew versions for me =)
Y: Yertle the Turtle
Z: Zazu

Ribbon Headband for the Ballerina and other details

Well, I intended to get this posted BEFORE Halloween, but better late than never =)  And honestly, she's still wanting to play dress up in her costume.  We like costumes anytime!

The costume didn't really need much, as we already had a tutu.  I bought a long sleeved shirt and leggings set from Target, figuring we could use them anytime.  (And we have, even after she finally gave up the tutu the pink pants and shirt were her pajamas for several nights...)   I sewed a few silk flowers to the shirt.

She has pink crocs that I tied some ribbons to and then wrapped them around her legs, and stuck them with a little sticky velcro where I tied the bow.  If I did it again I think I would just sew the ribbons directly to the pants, as they wanted to slide down, and when we needed to take the shoes off so she could play in the bounce house at the carnival they kind of got in the way.  Cute though.

And finally, the headband.  I am really excited about this because it is the first piece of hair management that she has willingly left on her head!  I may make a whole bunch more because her hair has gotten to the point that it annoys her.  I found a tutorial here, which made it so simple.  Just two hair ties tied together, and then sew the ribbon through the loop.  I embellished it with a few more silk flowers, and voila!  A cute ballet headband =)   

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Ballerina Basket

Ballerina Basket

Serenity decided that she wanted to be a ballet girl for Halloween this year (like Isa in Dora’s Costume Party).  That meant that I didn’t have much to do for her costume as she already has two adorable tutus.  But of course I couldn’t let Halloween go by without a little crafting!  So I made her a Ballerina Halloween Bucket to go with her outfit. 

I started with a 1 dollar purple bucket that I found at Michaels, and a roll of 25 yards of pink tulle.  I chained three rubber bands and hooked them to the handles of the bucket, and then tied the tulle onto it just like you do for an actual tutu. (Stick a loop under the rubber band and pull the two ends through)   I tied the knots pretty tight, I think if you leave them a little bit looser it would take less tulle.  I used every bit of that 25 yards. 

I added in some ribbons and sewed on a few flowers to match the headband I made her.  And there it is!  It was very easy!  I’m not sure that Serenity gets it though, when she saw it she wanted to climb in the bucket so she could wear the tutu…    

This would also make a really cute flower girl basket, although I would start with a container that's not so large(maybe cover it with fabric too so it's dressier), and use elastic that I could actually tack down instead of rubber bands.