Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Our kid friendly Christmas Tree

Our pediatrician advised us against getting a Christmas tree this year (something about a patient of hers eating a red Christmas ball last year thinking it was an apple--yikes! My kids would totally do that).  Her one exception would be if we had a way to keep our little ones away from said "apple" bearing tree, like an extra room with a door. Um, yeah, we definitely don't have any extra rooms for housing a Christmas tree. Bummer!!

And really as much as I love Christmas tree (we usually get a real one!) I was inclined to agree with her. I didn't relish the thought of fighting with my kids all holiday season to keep the tree upright and them from ingesting ornaments.

Thankfully the pediatrician told us this in October so I've had plenty of time to ponder what we might do instead. When I saw this on pinterest I thought it would be perfect and fun for our boys.

      Source: via Katy on Pinterest

I purchased all of the supplies and unsure of how big we wanted to make this sucker I purchased some extra green felt just in case thinking we wouldn't use it all. When my much more artistically inclined husband offered to do the tree while I tackled the ornaments I heartily agreed. And of course since we apparently do nothing simply we came up with this:

The picture does not do it justice (we used every bit of "extra" green felt I bought!). It is really pretty (especially for a felt tree!), festive and not overly kiddish. For ornaments we did: stars, snowflakes, poinsettas, and blue, gray, and red balls. I found some fabric glitter spray paint (who knew that existed? not me!) at Joann's, on clearance no less, which I used to spice up the ornaments a bit. It doesn't show up in the picture at all but they all sparkle a bit. I opted for more sophisticated colors than the original idea and I love them. I feel like it really classes up the project and makes it something the whole family can appreciate and enjoy, not just the little ones.

 I used this tutorial on how to create a fabric wall decal using heat 'n bond and we ironed our giant tree to the wall. I wasn't sure how well this method would hold up, but thus far it is holding up pretty well against it's formidable opponents (1 year old twins!) and they love to take all the ornaments off within reach (and hand each of them to me one by one while I thank them profusely. "Christmas tree" is a new favorite game in our house). They have pulled part of the bottom of the tree off the wall, but I smooth it back down each time and it lays flat still (if that makes any sense at all). I think I'm going to get some 3M poster tape to tack down the edges they can reach in hopes that it will keep them at bay and the tree up until after the holidays. So far so good!

I have to say I absolutely love our tree. Like so much I feel like it should get a name. (Hubert, maybe?) I just love that it started out as something for the kids and morphed into something we can all appreciate and enjoy. We'll definitely be holding on to this and putting it up each year for the kiddos. If I miraculously find a better way to tack it up without damaging the wall I'll be sure to share.

It looks like our first year without a Christmas tree won't be so bad after all.

Welcome to the family, Hubert.

Post Edit: The heat n' bond method didn't last for us. My munchkins pulled it off the wall and you can't re-adhere the heat n' bond. I ended up using a spray adhesive to reattach it and it worked like a dream! See more info on my post Christmas update

Sunday, November 27, 2011

DIY chalkboard table with milk crate seats

I am super excited about my latest project!

It started with this:

 a few of these

A little of this

A little of that

And it ended up like this

An awesome chalkboard table with locker crate seats (with storage!!) to match.

Wanna know how I did it? Read on if you want.

So a few months ago I found this coffee table on craigslist and thought it would make a perfect chalk board table for my guys. 

Well it sat in their room collecting dust until a couple weeks ago when I realized it would also make the perfect "kids" table for our upcoming Thanksgiving get together. This realization was just the motivation I needed to get going on this project. So I set out to find some seating. 

I really liked the idea of crate seats that I've seen popping up all over pinterest. So I bought some and realized they were going to be waaaaaay too big for my little table. Bummer! But strolling down the clearance isle at WalMart I found these:

They are locker crates: the same height as milk crates, but half the width. Perfect! Of course I wasn't crazy about the colors (they were the last three they had). I decided to try spray painting them a color more to my liking.

I tried using this krylon spray paint for plastic, but it clogged in like 5 minutes and I couldn't get it to unclog. So I ended up using Rustoleum brand instead. However, while I love the color the durability leaves something to be desired. The paint is already chipping a little bit on the edges. What?! My guess is that this is because the plastic was new and not "weathered." I think in the future I'll go with Krylon since they had some specific instructions for new plastic. But that was the only hiccup in the project.

We {READ: the husband} cut three seats out of a sheet of plywood and sanded down the corners so they'd fit perfectly. We have a little palm sander and this didn't take much time at all. We used 2 inch high density foam for cushioning and some flannel backed vinyl I had on hand to cover them with. Bonus: we can wipe the seats down! The final touch was to add a loop of ribbon to one side in order to pull the seat up. 

{I used this crate seat tutorial to get the general idea)

I sanded the table down and repainted it to match the seats. I used the same spray paint I used on the crates for the legs of the table and then made my own chalkboard paint using this tutorial. I got the paint for FREE at Joann's (love it!). It wasn't quite the right color so I ended up adding some black (3 tsps black to 1/2 cup brown) and it turned out perfect. I can't believe how closely it ended up matching the other paint color. Saweet!

{A before (in the measuring cup) and after (on the paint brush) of the paint colors}

As with all my projects I worried about whether it would be a hit or not. Well I'm very pleased to report that it got broken in over Thanksgiving by my darling nieces.

Overall I'm really happy with how it turned out. While my boys are bit too young for the chalk board part (they are still in the open-mouth-insert-chalk phase) they love to sit at the table on their little seats and "read" a book or have a snack.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Halloween 2011: Where's Waldo

So one of the things Nathan brought to our marriage was an enthusiasm for dressing up on Halloween. The first year I knew him he was the Jolly Green Giant.
(And after not having dressed up for Halloween in years I opted to be a giant potted flower)

Our first year of marriage it fell to Nathan to come up with our first couples costume. He managed to pull off this brilliant idea in a very short time period.

The cutest PB&J you ever did see!
(he made the bread slices himself and they were awesome!)

The next year I was hugely prego and he was super busy with his internship so we reused the pb&j.

Which brings us to Halloween 2011.

We are now a party of four instead of a party of two and we wanted to doing something the whole family could participate in. We threw around a lot of ideas (Alice and Wonderland , Bo Peep and her sheep, big bad wolf and 3 little pigs etc) and then settled on this one.

Waldo, Wenda, and their twinner Waldo babies!

Inspired by this tutorial I painted white t-shirts for the whole family and some white leggings I never wear (you can see them in the picture below), made the hats from knit, and Nathan made the glasses. As always I learned some things in the process:

1. I used packing tape (because it's what I had on hand) instead of masking tape to tape off the shirts and I think that helped create cleaner crisper lines.

2. Not all fabric (or textile) medium is created equal. I used several different kinds (don't ask!) and each called for a greater or lesser ratio of medium to acrylic. A 2 parts acrylic to 1 part medium created a much stiffer (but better color) design; 1.5 parts acrylic to 2 parts medium created a more vintaged color, but the clothing didn't lose it's flexibility and softness. If I had a do over for this project I'd go with the vintage flexible look. With so much of the shirt covered in paint the stiffness got annoying (but it's only a costume, right?)

3. The hats were a labor of love and I pulled ideas from multiple tutorials to finally come up with something that worked. But I will never post a tutorial about it because I do not want to go back to that unhappy, frustrated place. Let's just say knit was harder to work with than I thought. Fleece would have been a more forgiving choice.

4. My kids never cease to surprise me. Nathan made the glasses out of cardboard with an elastic around the back. I was sure they wouldn't wear them. I prepped him not to be too disappointed if they didn't.

And then of course they wore them without a fuss for the entire night.

(We also learned it helps to show them how they look in the mirror. They kept their hats on after they saw how adorable they looked in the mirror. No joke)

And I've saved the best for last. On a whim I submitted a photo to Make It and Love It's costume photo group and we were featured as part of her virtual costume parade!!!

(you can go here to see us)

I was seriously so excited to see that! Her crafting site is pretty famous and it was such a delight to have something I put blood, sweat, and curse words into featured in even a small way.


I'm already starting to get excited for next year.

Saturday, October 29, 2011


That was my finishing time for my 5k this morning.

My first 5k ever.

which I ran without walking.

Woot woot!!

Slowly mind you (see my time?), but run it I did.

With one of my shoe laces untied for 2/3rds of the race.

That should count for something right?

(I was just so determined not to stop!)

In our haste to get to the race on time we forgot our camera (gah!), but my friend took pictures so I'll post them when I have them.

It was awesome and I totally want to keep training and run another in the spring with my shoe laces tied and at a quicker pace.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Homemade Fingerpaints

I love to fingerpaint and it's something I've been looking forward to trying with the boys.

(They already create works of art on their high chair trays with their food, so I figure they'll be naturals.)

But I had several problems. 1) I'm cheap and didn't want to pay for fingerpaints, especially not knowing how it would go. 2) They are going to eat the paint. I just know it will happen and I didn't love the idea of them eating commercial paint with chemicals.

Well pinterest saved the day yet again, by exposing me to the world of homemade fingerpaints!

So, so, so easy and fun to make.

{I used this recipe}

{brown, pink, blue, purple, green, orange, yellow, red: all made from a basic blue/red/green/yellow food coloring kit}

BONUS: I found a use for all those baby food jars that I convinced my husband we needed to hold onto so sure they'd be useful for something.
Here a few things I learned/want to try differently:

1. One batch of the recipe I made filled 4 baby food jars (each baby jar held ~1/2 cup).

2. I mixed the base paint with food coloring before putting it into the jar. This was much easier than trying to mix them in the baby jar with that tiny opening.

3. The recipe was easiest to work with while still warm (see below).

4. These paints were the perfect consistency warm, but once they cooled they were super thick. I think I'll try cutting down the cornstarch next time to see if that helps (or maybe cut down the cooking time?). For now I'll trying warming them up a bit before using or adding some water to them or maybe just doing both. I'll let you know how it goes.

5. Go easy on the food coloring! A little goes a long way and adding more or less really gives you a lot of options for colors (i.e. pink and red are the same food color just with more or less added).

6. So I made these for the boys' birthday or and Christmas present (let's be honest I'm pretty sure they'll be thrilled to open these on their birthday and then pull them out of their stockings one by one Christmas morning.) But in my haste to get started on Christmas and birthday presents I didn't think through the fact that these are made out of food products (do homemade fingerpaints get moldy? Anyone?). Hmmmm...I decided to store them in the fridge until birthday time and see how it goes. Worse case scenario I cook up another batch post haste, but they are so easy and cheapity-cheap that it wouldn't be a big deal.

I'm pretty sure I set the stage perfectly for the boys to want to dig into these. How you ask? By taking these pictures while the boys were awake and wanting to get their chubby little hands on them, which of course I didn't allow. Forbidden object + my children = pure childhood joy and delight. Maybe I'll try this reverse psychology if they ever refuse to eat their vegetables...

If the boys enjoy these as much as I enjoyed making them it'll be a happy day in our house!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

A first

Oh boy. So a couple months ago I started the Couch to 5k program, determined to run a 5k once and for all (call me crazy, but I've always wanted to run one).

I was going strong thanks to my fantastic running buddy (thank you Kristen). I was even going on my own on days when she wasn't able to. I was committed.

You'll notice I'm using the past tense.

So I was doing so great with my training and then the last couple of weeks happened. Between a new calling, helping plan the ward trunk or treat, Halloween costumes, Nathan studying and taking his licensure exam etc., I totally dropped the ball on my training.

My 5k is on Saturday. As in this Saturday.

The furthest I've run is 2.5 miles....

Needless to say I'm a little nervous, but I am committed to finishing the race even if I have to walk part of it (which would be a bummer).

But if that happens I'll just remind myself that finishing the race is better than finishing it perfectly.

Wish me luck!

Thursday, October 13, 2011


The first project I tackled from my pile 'o sewing projects was our boys' loveys. Our twinners fell in love with these sweet cozy monkey blankets. Like head over heels, can't go to sleep without them, love. Only problem was we only had two and it was getting hard {READ: impossible} to keep them clean. Oh who am I kidding I would have settled for clean-ish, but not even that was happening. So I thought we'd just go grab a couple more from the store, right? Ha! Turns out they no longer sell my boys beloved monkey blankets. Unless I want to buy them off ebay, used, for $20/blanket.

Ummmm...I don't think so.

So then I embarked on the mental journey of how to create 4 loveys out of two. I knew I wanted them to have a satin binding and then I got a little obsessed with them being identical. I didn't want fights breaking out over them in the future because one had monkey on it and one didn't etc.

And I thought and stewed and bought some white satin remnants and then rethought the wisdom of white satin on something my kids will likely drag all over the place...

and that's where my enthusiasm for the project fizzled out.

Until now!

I stopped obsessing over the blankets being identical, scrapped the white satin for something I already had on hand, and got to work.

1. I took three flannel receiving blankets of various sizes and created my own "bias tape." I cut the blankets into six inch strips (creates 1.5 inch binding after folding and pressing) that I then sewed together to create enough length to go around my blankets.This was a great way to reuse/make use of some of their old baby stuff. I personally don't understand the utility of store bought receiving blankets since kids out grow them in about a month. (Seriously, enlighten me here if I'm missing something)

2. I cut the boys current blankets in half and then used my bias tape to bind the edges. This was a learning process to be sure. I definitely got better the more blankets I did, but believe me these babies are faaaaaaaarrrr from perfect, but they are done which was the point.

{I used this tutorial for both the bias tape and binding.}

{Happy Dance!}

{The finished product!}

A bonus feature of doing this is now these sweet loveys are the perfect size to be toted around when our guys start walking. Before they were way too big for that. Awesome!

It felt so good to get this project done and I'm really happy with how they turned out!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

The beginning

I've had something of a personal breakthrough in the last couple of weeks that started with this realization:

If I can't do something the way that I want to I usually don't do it at all.

This, my friends, is a problem. As a busy caretaker of twins I often don't have the time or energy to do things just the way I want to, but not doing them at all is unacceptable as well.

It keeps me stuck.

It keeps me from making the changes I want to.

It keeps me from accomplishing things I want to do.

It keeps me from becoming the kind of person I really want to be.

Which is why my house is usually a mess, dinner not on the table as often as I'd like, and it explains the pile of unfinished projects on my sewing desk.

So I say, no more!

Done is better than perfect in my {new} book.

So I started a new blog to sort of track my progress and celebrate my successes as small as they may be.

You are welcome to follow along if you'd like.

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