Sunday, January 31, 2010

4th Birthday!

On Saturday, January 30th, my sweet baby boy turned four! FOUR! How is that even possible? He is my sweet angel BABY--not a big four year old. I'm still in shock!
For his birthday we went to the local bowling alley with a friend, per his request. The friend he requested happens to be Princess's best friend, so both my children were happy. My little guy just adores his sister's friends, that is for sure!
Handsome loved using the ball ramp and ended up with the top score of the three children--even though the girls are two years older than he is! He just loves bowling even though he's only been to the real bowling alley twice. Santa put a mini bowling set in his stocking and he loves that little gift so much!
We had so much fun celebrating his birthday and it was wonderful to have good friends join us!
Later that day we went out to lunch at Red Robin and my husband took this picture of me with my baby at 12:26pm--the moment of his birth four years ago. It was a very difficult c-section. During the end of my pregnancy I had nerve problems with my leg and my doctor suspects that is why the spinal didn't completely work and I felt every (and I do mean every) thing the doctors did on one side of my body. It was the strangest and most intense pain I've ever felt in my life, but I desperately wanted to see my little boy right after his birth, so I refused additional medication until after he was delivered. After seeing all 10lbs 2oz of him (he was smaller than my daughter!), I was quite relieved to go into la-la land though!
He was thrilled when it was cupcake time after dinner! I've made cupcakes for my babies every year for their birthdays--including their real Birth Days in the hospital!
My silly, silly boy!
Happy birthday to the sweetest, smartest, and most loved little boy in the entire world. I love you like mice love cheese. I love you like vines love trees. I love you like boots love stomping in puddles. I love you like...

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Valentine Garland Tutorial

(apologies for my photo quality...I'm tired and took these on auto with a flash)

I've spent some time the last few days working on a puffy Valentine heart garland for my mantle. I mostly made this during naptime--it really isn't a multiday project, but I've had a crazy week! My little boy loves this garland and sang me a song today about "puffy hearts"--it was very sweet and brought a smile to my face.

heart cookie cutter (or the ability to freehand a good heart shape!)
red felt (1/8 - 1/4 a yard, depending on the size of your garland)
white felt (1/8 a yard)
red buttons
red embroidery floss
white embroidery floss
polyfil (or just use your scraps of felt to stuff the puffy hearts
white grosgrain ribbon
First I used my Wilton heart cookie cutter and an ink pen and traced a bunch of hearts onto red felt. I used cheap felt sold by the bolt at JoAnn's. You could use felt squares too--but the other felt was on sale, so that's what I bought. I just used a regular old pen, not a fabric pen to trace the hearts--it worked just fine.
Then I traced a big heart onto some scrap paper and eyeballed it and traced a smaller heart inside it and cut that out to get the template for my smaller (white) hearts. Then I traced and cut my white hearts out of felt.
This bag of buttons was on sale at JoAnn's--usual price is $2.29. I don't have a button stash and I'm envious of those of you who do.
I used embroidery floss (it is very inexpensive--under 40 cents each) to sew on my buttons. I chose white floss to sew on the red buttons because I like the contrast. On some hearts I sewed three buttons and on other hearts I did one button.
I did all of the button sewing before moving onto the next step.
Next I used red embroidery floss and stitched (just a basic straight stitch--nothing fancy, although you could do a blanket stitch) 3/4 of the way around the white heart, sewing it down onto the red heart. Then I grabbed some polyfil (fluff!) from my stash. You also could use the scraps of felt from when you were cutting out the heart shapes.
Stuff the fluff into the little pocket you've made. I put in a tiny bit more fluff after I took this picture. Then you stitch up the opening the rest of the way.
After all your hearts are made (and your little boy ooohs and aaahs over them!), start pinning them to some grosgrain ribbon. I took my ribbon and my pile of hearts over to my mantle and put my ribbon (still attached to the spool at one end!) where I wanted my garland to go and then I pinned the hearts on while standing in front of the fireplace. I'm glad I did this because I had been planning on sewing the ribbon on the back of the middle of the hearts. Apparently I forgot about gravity...because as soon as I pinned the middle of a heart back onto a ribbon, the whole thing tipped forward and looked ridiculous! Ooops! Everything worked much better after I pinned the heart tops to the ribbon. I didn't do any measuring--just pinned the hearts where I thought they looked good. Then I took the garland back to the table and used red floss and did some straight stitches and sewed my red hearts to the white ribbon. I think you could even use hot glue for this step, but I didn't feel like getting out my glue gun.
That's it! So easy and it turns out so cute! (click on picture to enlarge it) My husband was quite surprised at how such a simple project can have a big impact. (And yes, I know there is a big blank space staring at you--I took down the twig wreath I had up there because I really didn't like it at all. I have a project planned for above the I just need to find some time to do it!)

This project was super easy and I just love how it turned out. Please let me know if you try it--I'd love to feature your project!

Making this puffy heart garland reminded me a lot of the Valentine wands I made last year--my children still love those wands!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

From Christmas Clearance to Princess Perfect!

When I saw Beckie's beaded wreath I knew I had to try it! First stop, JoAnn fabrics where, sure enough, they had ugly rust colored bead garland in the 90% off Christmas clearance section. Woohoo! I also bought my wreath form there although I'm sure I could have saved 75% of the price if I'd gone to the dollar store...but I was feeling a bit lazy. Plus my little boy saw the wreaths and really wanted one to wear around the store. That was the clincher.
Beckie used floral pins to hold her garland in place. I used hot glue--my wreath form was so dense that the hot glue didn't melt it or anything. Floral pins probably are a better idea though because then you can adjust your garland. However, hot glue is what I had, so that's what I used!
My 12 inch wreath took 2.5 garlands. It was heavy when I was done! Phew!
Now Beckie is a bit more professional than me. Not only did she use floral pins to hold her garland in place...but she primed her wreath when she was done wrapping the garland. I did not prime. I was trying to get this done before naptime was I took my wreath out to the driveway, put down a dropcloth, and sprayed on some pink spraypaint.
Then, after waiting as long as I could, I carefully flipped the wreath over onto some foil and sprayed the back side too. This mostly the end, only a small amount of paint came off the first I decided that side would be the back.
Although I originally intended for this to be a Valentine decoration, it just didn't look quite right hanging in the playroom (too many primary colored toys!) but it does look great in Princess's room! The pink matches her room perfectly! I tied a grosgrain ribbon (from my stash) around the wreath and then hung the knot of ribbon from a nail. Then I tied a bow and hot glued it to the knot. Or maybe to the nail. Basically I just smooshed it up there where I thought it looked good and where it would cover the two extra nail holes I accidentally made.
Princess loves the new addition to her bedroom!

Monday, January 25, 2010

Knock-Off Wood's Pottery Barn Bookshelves--MADE!

Behold, the Pottery Barn two shelf Cameron bookcase! Currently on sale for $159 (plus exorbitant shipping charges!) and usually $199. Beautiful and yet out of my budget.
Behold, the almost identical bookcases my husband built! Total cost, $75 (and no shipping charges!) for TWO!! He built them and I painted them--all in a weekend's work. We used plans from Knock Off Wood and they were great!! (FYI--the cost would have been lower, except we made a modification to the plans that ended up costing us an additional sheet of MDF.)
I requested my husband add a back to the bookshelves (the plans don't call for one) and that is the only change we made to the plans. Instead of putting trim pieces on the backs of the shelves, my husband fit in a piece of 3/4 inch MDF. The shelves are made out of MDF (good for painting) and pine trim. We did learn our lesson though and in the future will not be buying lumber for furniture pieces from the local big box store. My husband picked out the best of the bad pine--and it still is bad! Next time we'll go to the lumber yard--and there definitely will be a next time! Ana's plans are wonderful and we plan to build our little boy's bed and trundle from her plans!
I debated painting them white or painting them black. (They're not really going to stay under these pictures.) Ultimately white won out because I had some beautiful white paint (Benjamin Moore Decorator White) leftover from my kitchen cabinet painting project. Plus I figure it is easier to paint over white than it is to paint over black.
These shelves are sized perfectly for going behind the couch in our family room. We're trying to put an office area back there and needed a lot of storage--these fit the bill perfectly!

(I linked this post to Sanctuary Arts at Home's "First Big Project of the New Year Party" and Homebody Holly's Pottery Barn Knockoff Party if you're visiting from there, feel free to comment and take a look at the rest of my blog. I always welcome new readers! Also, welcome to my visitors from Knock-Off Wood! Ana's plans really are as great as they look on her website!)

Friday, January 22, 2010

A Very Fancy (Nancy!) Birthday Party

I love having a little girl and I love that my little girl loves frills fluff and all things fancy. For the past year or two she has been loving the Fancy Nancy books, so I thought that would be a perfect birthday theme for her sixth birthday. Luckily she agreed because I already was dreaming of boas, flowers, and tiaras!
I had so much fun decorating for this party! The only Fancy Nancy specific items I bought were cardstock placemats, some big stickers (for the goodie bags), and a few Fancy Nancy mylar balloons. For the rest of the decor I just went with over the top fancy with lots of pink and some touches of purple. For the record, Fancy Nancy's favorite color is fuchsia...that's a fancy way of saying purple. (Or at least that's what the book says--to me it isn't the exact same thing as purple...)
Most of these decorations came from Dollar Tree! I bought wine glasses (we don't drink wine, so we didn't own any) to elevate the cupcakes and to use as glasses for the milk and water I offered the children. They felt very fancy using those and did lots of glass clinking! I also bought the little plastic "glass" slippers (they're at the base of the wine glasses) from the wedding section at Dollar Tree and filled them with pink M&Ms. And, of course, the flowers are direct from the dollar store. I put the flowers in a vase I already had and then stuffed some white tulle into the vase to cover up the icky stems.

See those "things" on sticks? Those were a HUGE hit! They're marshmallows that I poked a stick into, dipped in pink candy melts, and then dipped into sprinkles. The ones covered in pink sparkly sugar with the biggest hit. One of the little girls skipped eating her cupcake in favor of eating a LOT of these marshmallows! Oh and the nice little glass cup they're sitting in? That's a candleholder from my big Pottery Barn metal wreath candleholder that I took down before our addition was built and I haven't put back up yet. The candleholders worked great for this--especially after I put some white tulle in the bottom of the container.

The pink boa on the chandelier is one that I snagged out of the dressup box--I also draped some white faux pearl necklaces on the boa.
To dress-up the chairs, I used white plastic tablecloths cut in half and tied some pink tulle around them and added another Dollar Tree flower to the knot of tulle. White sheets would have looked even better, but those weren't in my budget.
The goodie bags contained a small glittery wand, additional jewelry (they also received some when they arrived), as well as a princess lollipop that I made using candy melts. I also made sure the bags were big enough to hold tiaras since that was one of the favors the girls received when they arrived.
The centerpiece on this table is the original Fancy Nancy book--I just used a plate display stand that I bought at the dollar store to hold the book up.
While we waited for everyone to arrive, the children had the opportunity to color Fancy Nancy pictures and then to make beaded bracelets. Then I read them Fancy Nancy--this was a hit! Then it was time for the girls (and my little boy!) to get fancy! This table contained everything they needed to do that--tiars, rings, necklaces, and feather boas! I found amazing deals on these items at a website called Halo Heaven. The prices were fantastic!!

After the children got fancy, it was time for a dance party! We did freeze dance as well as just dancing. It got some wiggles out and the girls had fun!
After a quick picture (the invitation instructed they should dress fancy), it was time for parfaits! (That's fancy for ice cream sundae!) Unfortunately there are no pictures of this. Boo! We cleared off the fancy table and put out bowls of sprinkles, mini chocolate chips, and mini marshmallows. Each girl got a bowl with ice cream and then could put on the extras herself before having chocolate/caramel sauce and squirty cream put on by an adult. Then they headed for the table!
We sang Happy Birthday to Princess and she blew out her candles. Then the children gorged themselves on sugar (usually a semi-restricted commodity in our house) before we did presents.

It was a wonderful time and Princess was so happy with her special day!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

New Curtains

Needless to say, after building our addition, we are a bit short on spare change. However, we had three windows that needed coverings (we opted to leave the three 2x2 square windows free of treatments). Initially I wanted to do wide white wood blinds. Actually, we went so far as to order the blinds (after I tracked down an amazing sale at JcPenney!) and hang them on two of the windows...and I hated them. Not only did I not like the look at all (they made our room look very closed in) the wood blinds totally didn't work on our slider. When the blinds were pulled up, there was a big mass of blind at the top of the doorframe (8ish inches or so) that we had to duck under. Not good!
So, we took down the wood blinds (while mourning the holes we had just put in our brand spanking new woodwork!) and had naked windows again as evidenced in the picture above (ignore all my extra kitchen stuff on the buffet--this was in the midst of the kitchen cabinet painting project!) Oh, and now we had even less spare change than before.

What to do, what to do? Why jump on the dropcloth curtain bandwagon, of course!
I bought cheap black curtain rods at Target--which finally made the black chandelier tie into the new space. Unfortunately the curtain rods were so cheap, they had "clear" plastic pieces in the middle of each rod that looked so tacky! Still, the pricetag on the curtain rods was too perfect to pass up--so I used a black Sharpie on the plastic pieces. Worked like a charm!
See those pieces on the rod--those are the plastic adjuster pieces that I colored black. We thought about hanging the rods all the way up at the ceiling, but we plan to put crown moulding up in here in the next year or two, so we opted against going all the way to the ceiling with the rods.
I wanted the curtains to be full, so I used one dropcloth for each panel even though I probably could have split the cloth and saved some money. Still, it was $10 per dropcloth, so it wasn't much at all. Six dropcloths to cover my three windows and they look like linen. My friends have been quite surprised to learn these are dropcloths!

I washed, dried (these shrink a lot!), and ironed the panels before running a few straight lines of stitches...and that was it! No cutting of the dropcloths at all! I'm so pleased with the look.
It's a bit beige in here right now, but I'm planning on some black and white pictures to balance things out. Right now I'm finding the light and airy neutrals to be quite soothing.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Our New View

Our beautiful new family room addition has given us one window facing the west--a direction we couldn't previously see from inside our house. Apparently we have been missing some gorgeous sunsets during our prior six years in this house! Look at the view we now have from our kitchen table! (I took these through the window)

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Easy Peasy Skirt Patterns

Last summer I sewed up some adorable little skirts for Princess. So cute and so easy! And, better yet, Princess LOVED them! As I think ahead (rather wistfully!) to spring and summer, I'm definitely planning on making her some more skirts.

This first skirt (the one that matches her Minnie shirt) was the easiest skirt ever! If you can sew a straight line, you can sew this skirt! It is the Oliver + S Lazy Days skirt and you can link directly to the pattern pdf here. Seriously, this is *easy* sewing! You use the full width of the fabric, from selvedge to selvedge (those are the finished edges of the fabric) and first sew your fabric into a tube. Then you fold over a waistband, stitch that, thread through some elastic, and close up that opening. Finally (and this is the BEST part!) you use some grosgrain ribbon to encase the hem! (That's the black edge you see on the polka dot skirt.) The end result is adorable, inexpensive, and super quick to make!
I also made this stripwork skirt for Princess. I used a pattern from Grace Violet and it was easy and adorable to make! I do also have this tutorial bookmarked that is very similar, except it also has a band of contrasting fabric around the hem. Stripwork skirts are so fun and twirly!