Thursday, September 30, 2010

Home Design: Serenity's Dress Up Corner

Well those last few spaces in my house that I hadn’t yet painted were calling my name, so I decided to finally do the little changes I planned to Serenity’s closet.  I removed the bi-fold closet doors.  Not only did they take up a ton of space and block the way to the secret room, I worried about her pinching her fingers in them.  Plus, they stayed open nearly all the time anyway.  So, in order for it not to drive me crazy, I had to paint over the dirty beige that I had covered everywhere else in the house.  I painted a lighter blue than her room since it’s such a small space, and it made a huge difference!  It’s so much more inviting!  And then, in the right corner, I created a dress-up area for her.  She’s just getting to the age that she really enjoys the costumes I’ve begun to collect for her.  I put in some hooks, a tub to hold her accessories, and her favorite addition, the mirror!  It’s so cute to see her put on an outfit and model it in the mirror =) And so, without further ado, the before and after.

Birthday Parties: A Princess Presto Tea Party! (Super Why)

***I added a tutorial for the book club tent!
*** I added a tutorial for the Super Reader Photo Board!
*** I added a tutorial for the photo backdrops!
*** I added a tutorial for the capes

For Serenity’s second birthday of course the theme had to center around Super Why, her favorite show, favorite books, and favorite toys.  Oh yes, we have the whole SuperWhy lineup, which isn’t actually that many things so I had to make a lot myself.  Which was why it was fun! 

To begin, as they entered the party every kid got to transform into superheroes!  (As they do in every show to solve the problems!)  I had made a bunch of capes in satin and provided lots of sticky foam for the kids to decorate them with!  Then there were the superhero accessories, like glittery wands, crowns, various helmets, and tools.  Everyone loved this part!  Some of the older ones came back to decorate more later. =)  Even Serenity wore her cape and crown for a little while!  I made hers with a little felt appliqué.  I can do a tutorial on that later! 


After they transformed into super heroes, the kids came in and found the book club!  In the show, this is where the characters meet to solve problems.  I made this myself from an old duvet cover and a lot of wonder under and felt!  One side has a door with detachable pencils to mimic the look of the book club.  The back has a big book with felt letters that Serenity uses to write words!  One side has a window and some pockets that were supposed to hold books, but they tend to fall out so smaller things work better.  And the last side has a little paper doll princess with accessories that can be switched out!  I’ll do a full tutorial on how I did this if there’s interest =) 

Next up was the tea party aspect of the party.  Serenity loves a good tea party, and one of the Super Readers, Princess Presto, does too!  So we made an elaborate tea party with centerpieces, a fancy feather boa wreath, and a princess chair!  Serenity helped me decorate tea cups.  We also had fancy tea party fare for the food, little sandwiches cut into hearts, sand tarts, and strawberry shortcake. 

The kids favorite activity involved finding Super Letters.  Using my friend Jennie’s cricut (oh how I covet that particular toy!) I cut out red sparkly letters that spelled Happy Birthday, and then made a big board with Velcro so I could hide the letters and assemble the sign as the kids found them.  They LOVED this game!  It was amazing, they were so excited as they found each letter and brought it to me.  After we made the sign they wanted to do it again, so Eric stole letters and kept hiding them throughout the party! 

We also staged some fancy superhero photos with canvas backdrops I painted and a huge photo wall with cutouts.  My dad built it of course, and I painted the mural using his projector.  The older kids loved sticking their faces in so they could be Super Readers in the Why Flyers.  For younger kids, I recommend putting up a big mirror so they can see themselves right away in the photo.  The little ones just wanted to play with the front side of the mural, they didn’t quite get it.  But it was a blast!!!

We also did our traditional fishing, but that deserves another post. 
Whew!  It was an awesome party!  My favorite compliment came from my nephew, Barrett, who said “Aunt Chrissie sure knows how to throw a good Super Why party.”  He also plans to name one of his children after me.  Oh yeah, he’s four by the way.  Love that kid =) 

Story+Art: Chicka Chicka ABC

I love the idea of connecting crafts with books, two of our favorite activities!  I read here on A Mommy's Adventures how they created an apple tree to go along with Chicka Chicka 1,2,3.  Well, Serenity loves that book, but we had just checked out Chicka Chicka ABC from the library so I decided to adapt their project for my two year old and for that book.  So we made a coconut tree!  Actually we made three coconut trees because Serenity LOVED this activity so much!  I traced her hands onto green sticky foam, and cut them out, along with shapes for the trunk and some brown coconuts.  Then Serenity got to use her stickers!  Then I pulled out the letter stickers so she could have letters climbing up her coconut tree, and she asked me for each letter in order.  Great practice!  And a great fine motor skills activity as well, placing those little stickers isn't easy!

Toddler Crafts: Making Gingerbread Men

Serenity, my daughter, loves to do crafts with Mama!  She’s just over two, so we have to get a little creative with our projects to make them work for her.  One of her recent favorites was making Gingerbread Men!  I used sticky back foam and our Christmas cookie cutters to trace and cut out the gingerbread man shape.  (I do all the cutting right now, I don’t think she’s quite old enough yet.)  Then I cut out an assortment of shapes for Serenity to use for eyes, noses, and buttons.  She placed her gingerbread men on a sheet of cardstock, and then chose shapes and placed them herself!  It was great practice for where eyes, noses, and mouths go, and great color and shape practice too!  I think next time we do this I’ll get a silver tray from the dollar store that looks like a real cookie sheet, and we’ll read a story to go with it!  Maybe this one!

DIY Upholstered Fireplace Cushion

And now for a little home décor, with a baby focus.  I must admit that I am a nervous mother.  I imagine every single thing that can go wrong and worry about it.  Mostly I try to ignore the crazy, but there are a few things I just needed for peace of mind, and one of those was to protect my baby from our fireplace!  The hearth was hard bricks, and so tempting to climb on or run around.  I know I could have bought one of those fireplace edge covers, but I wanted to add a little seating as well.   So with the help of my Dad, who is an amazing carpenter, we built a cushion for the hearth! 

Dad carefully measured the top and built a wooden frame just a bit bigger than the hearth so that after I added the padding it would be a tight fit.  Ours is 66” by 12 5/8”, and then there is a 1X2 on the front and sides to protect the corners.  Then I took batting, and cotton fabric and used the handy staple gun to upholster it.  It was easy!  And it’s very comfortable to sit on.  After a few months of fabric hunting I finally found the perfect fabric to match my living room, and now the cushion is perfect!     

Baby Giraffe Quilt... with Ribbons!

I’ve been staring at a blank blog long enough. I just couldn’t decide where to begin! So I’m just going to post several articles just to get things rolling, one for each general category I plan to write about. So first, here is a baby quilt I made for my friend Jennie. She loves giraffes, can you tell?
Lately I am all about texture when it comes to baby blankets, so I mixed minkee fabric, flannel, cotton, and fleece. I also added little ribbon loops to give the baby some more textures to grab! I just love Taggies and it’s so easy to add them to an appliqué project. The quilt itself is just half square triangles. Pinwheel patterns are one of my favorites =) Then I used fusible webbing to attach the fleece giraffe, and I sewed a running stitch around it with embroidery floss.

I didn’t take step by step photos, but this is a really basic design, so here’s what I did.
1.) Sew the quilt top. I used 5.5 inch half square triangles, and I just google half square triangles to figure out what size squares to start with to end up with the right size. I have to do this every time, I can never remember! Then just arrange the half square triangles into a pinwheel pattern. Then you end up with about a 40 by 50 quilt.
2.) Baste the ribbon into loops. I tried to pick all colors and textures of ribbon for variety =)
3.) Iron the wonder under onto the back of the appliqué. And try to face it the right way. I didn’t. At least the first time.
4.) Iron the giraffe onto the quilt, after arranging the tags as you like. I made my tags into a little mane and tail.
5.) Do a running stitch to help secure the appliqué and because it’s cute!
6.) I just layered my backing, batting and quilt and tied it. Easy! Then I used my sewing machine to apply the binding.

Oh, and as another example of the awesomeness of taggies, here is a pic of my baby with the taggies ball she gave Daddy for his first father's day. Ok, she was still in my tummy at the time, but that didn't stop Daddy from playing ball with the baby (bouncing it off Mama =)