Tuesday, August 30, 2011

The Kids Christmas Gift for 2011

lI am a big believer in gift multiples.  A few years ago nearly everyone on my list got stockings. Before that I made many rice heat packs and cool eye masks. With multiples I feel as though I am being fair and enjoy the ease that familiarity brings to a project. With each gift it just gets easier. I also like seeing how I can personalize each project.

This year I have six kids on my list between the ages of 5 and 10. They all live long distance and that requires advanced postage planning. I am not sure, but I have been told that having a baby rocks your world. So, I anticipate that getting to the post office in time might just be a challenge this year.

So I was looking for an idea that would be easy to mail ahead of time and suitable for school age kids.

When I first saw this amazing project on Pinterest...

I just about died with cute overload! A gum advent calendar How sweet!!

Then it hit me! This is an affordable, light weight and easy to mail gift for kids ages 5-10!! And, it's designed to be sent early!

Then I wondered if I would ever need to come up with my own ideas again. Pinterest is just so awesome. I have found pretty much everything I have needed since joining this summer in a matter of minutes.

Gum Advent Calendars
I questioned whether it was even worth blogging all my Pinterest knock offs. Then it hit me in the middle of this project, My need to be cheap always throws a monkey wrench in everything I copy. Maybe other people would like to see how I solve those glitches?
Gum Advent Calendars
Like for example- the gum used in the inspiration project above has 12 pieces per pack. The gum I bought at the dollar store only has 8.  Believe me I was shaking my head when I discovered that. It never occurred to me that gum that comes in similar packaging could be both a different shape and have fewer pieces. I was so blinded by two packs for $1 that I never counted the pieces! Whoops.
Gum Advent Calendars
Thankfully 8 is a multiple of 24 so I could still make the calendar! Whew! What would I have done if there were 10 pieces?  My books just need to fold in thirds. It took a little playing to get the first one, but soon it was easy! Thank goodness for multiples.

Gum Advent Calendar

Another change I made was to use acrylic paint for the nose. Wouldn't you know it, my orange Sharpie was dead. I applied the paint with a toothpick and it worked perfectly. Maybe even better than a Sharpie.

These two are headed on the slow boat to China. My cousin moved her family of six to China last year. I was so sad, but thankfully facebook has actually made it very easy to stay in touch and see pictures of the kids. Hard to send gifts though. This project is really a blessing.

But first I need to  make another gum run to the dollar store!

Gum 2/$1 - 75cents per book.
Paper, paint, Sharpies and hot glue from stash.
Postage to China???

Pinterest Rocks My Teaching World

This year my district is going from a largely whole group direct instruction reading program to a largely centers/small group instruction model.  There are centers for English Language Development, reading and math. It's a good change, but it's going to take a lot of work and organization to make all those transitions and activities run efficiently.

Instinctively I am not such a great organizer. Boo!

Thank goodness there are hundreds upon hundreds of brilliantly organized teachers sharing all their ideas on Pinterest. I could read teaching blogs all day and not get all the ideas a quick ten minute browsing of Pinterest provides.

This idea., though, knocked my socks off.

 The little white thing highlighted here is a plastic stand that makes any binder into a flip chart!
They only cost $2 and look like they would be a good investment. I immediately began to search for them on Amazon. No luck. It seems that they are only available here.

Here en-lies the rub. I am super cheap to begin with and have already spent a ton of money and time on my classroom this summer. We have potentially five furlough days again this year so it's really important to stay within our budget. And, the site above charges $7 dollars to ship 5 of those little plastic things.

So I made my own.

Binder 1

First gather up two large binder clips and a short piece of ribbon-about 5" long.


Clip the clips to the binder covers and tie the two closest metal thingies together. Done.

Dear Ms. Plastic Binder Holder Maker,
I love your holder. Really I do. I would buy 5 for my classroom. I would. But you see, I have free Amazon Prime and I have become spoiled. Paying 70% of the product cost for shipping is just too steep. If your product shows up on Amazon, I will be the first to buy it. Promise.  In the meantime, Yankee ingenuity all the way.
Love, Mrs. L

Monday, August 29, 2011

That Was Easy! Nursing Cover

Last week Cliff's parents came to visit. We heard lots of little tales of our 6 month old niece. One such tale involved her nursing cover. My mother-in-law could not recommend getting a nursing cover more highly. It seems that when Cliff's sister is fixing to nurse the mere sight of the brightly colored cover gets my niece all excited.

So I set out to make a nursing cover. I can't say I was too excited. I seem to have an aversion to making straps. It's the turning that drives me bonkers. I hate turning tight tubes of fabric. But off to my stash I went in search of nursing cover fabric.

Wrap Around Skirt 
That's when I found this wrap around skirt. It was my mother-in-law's and she gave it to me with a bunch of other fabric. I love this vintage print and have been saving it for a special project. If it wasn't a size two I would probably wear it.

Anyway, it kind of looks like a nursing cover already.  A quick trim and a few adjustments to the already sewn straps and I could be done. All the hemming is done. I could make a slit in the top hem and slide the boning right in. This could be the easiest nursing cover ever!

As I studied it I tried to imagine myself wearing it out in public. Nursing underneath it. The fabric is a twill. That could be hot and heavy. Also, this print screams,"Look at this cool print! Notice me!" And that is pretty  much the *last* thing I want when nursing in public.
Nursing Cover
So I went back to the stash and found this beige and lavender print. I followed the tutorial from Diary of A Quilter.   It was so easy. From start to finish including clean up it was an hour. Not too bad. Turning the strap was indeed annoying because I get annoyed by that, but over all it made up so quickly I really didn't mind so much.

This pattern says, "Please respect my privacy."  Actually, it's called "Cherished Memories" by Robert Kaufaman. I hope nursing in private or public does become a cherished memory.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

More Nursery Nook Inspiration

Imogen's nursery corner was the post that probably got me thinking "nook" instead of  full nursery.

For right now, a corner of our room is so much more practical than a full blown nursery. I am  comfortable with that decision. However, I am not above drooling over the beautiful nurseries all over blogland.  So I found the above picture from The Happy Home very inspirational. It showed me that you can do a lot with a small space and make it charming.

How sweet is this branch turned clothes rack?

Our space is actually much bigger. We are blessed with a huge master bedroom in our new apartment. Our bedroom entry actually creates quite a large nook at the front of the room. We have a full size crib, a big dresser and a small scale rocking chair all in that space. In addition, our bathroom boasts a long counter that is perfect for a changing station.

When all the furniture was in place, I saw just the right space for my own darling branch rack. But, where in LA would I find just the right branch lying around?

I thought about this for a few days. Wondered who had trees I could trim. Thought about going to a florist. Then just as I was getting ready to walk around the neighborhood in search of a branch, what did I spy?
The Perfect Stick
The perfect dead branch just sticking out of a plant...just feet from my door! Eureka!

It took an hour to scrape off all the bark. A trim and some spray paint and we were in business!
I painted a bit of scrap wood to match my walls. Then I screwed that wood into studs on the wall and screwed the branch into the scrap. This made it secure and gave an extra inch or so for the hangers to fit properly.

My mother in law sent me the hangers. They were Cliff's when he was a baby! Love them! My mother knit the sweater back when I was in college. I guess she was dreaming of grandchildren then. She only had to wait about 20 years more! Sorry mom!  I received the blue bird in The Sweet Goodness Swaps French swap and I have always adored it.

Clothes Branch
The whole thing fits rather neatly between the door and the crib.
Scrap wood, and branch - free! Spray paint $2. Squeal!

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Nursery Nook- Mobile

It's so hot today that I decided to stay in and catch up on my blogging. Errands can wait until the sun goes down.

When I finally jumped on the Pinterest bandwagon, I swiftly transferred over all my starred items from Google Reader. How nice to have all those great ideas organized and in one place!

Back in May I had seen the mobile shown above over at Lemon Tree Creations. It was love at first sight and I starred in on my Google Reader.
Here is my version and it was the first thing I made specifically for this baby.

 Back in May when I first saw the Lemon Tree Creations mobile, I had just found out I was pregnant and was still very nervous about the whole thing. I hardly dared to dream, but when I did allow myself to picture life with a baby, all I could see was a boy. Our family had three new girls born in March and April. After years of wishing for a daughter, I guess I kinda wanted a boy.  Then in July, my doctor thought she saw some boy parts, but she wasn't sure. This got me thinking boy even more.

I won't lie, I was just a wee bit disappointed when the high resolution ultra sound showed that Baby Z was a girl. Then I remembered this mobile and my excitement grew.

It appeals to me on so many levels. For one thing, it I have so many tiny yummy scraps that I can not bear to throw away. This is a good use for those.
mobile bits
Also, it can't get much more lightweight and earthquake friendly.

It's very thrifty! I think I spent $3 minus a coupon on the doilies. I also used a thrifted embroidery hoop that had become cracked and useless. Talk about upcycling.
The teacher in me loves the pops of colors and the fact that it's very basic for a young baby.
Mobile Bits
In the tutorial, Erin used fabric stiffener on her fabric. I used fusible web to iron the fabric circles right to the doilies. Other than that I followed the tutorial exactly. 

My classroom aide warned me the other day to get everything ready before the third trimester. Her first grandchild just arrived last week. And, since Mrs. B is so versed in all things pregnancy now she is watching me like a hawk at work. I am so lucky to be spoiled by her!

Anyway, I am taking her advice. So this will be a baby craft blog for a while.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Nursery Nook Banner

Banner In Nursery Nook
Here is my version of the Pinterest found inspiration banner.

It's a little too high up. I guess I was thinking that since it's just paper, I didn't want the kiddo to rip it, but now I realize that, well, babies don't stand for quite a while. By the time she can stand she might have her own room. We'll see how much of a nesting instinct kicks in. Right now, it's too high, but liveable. Who knows if I will get OCD and move it down later on.

 The paper letters are actually a sweet embossed lacy scrapbook paper and are secured with foam poster mounting tabs. I used Word to find the right font and size the letters. I printed them in "outline" style to save ink and used them as a pattern on my scrapbook paper.

The east coast earthquake and aftershocks really have me thinking. Earthquakes in CA are much easier to take because we are experienced, (no running in the street!!)  better prepared and for the most part our buildings are on rollers. Still, it's going to be a whole new ball game with a wee one. I was so happy to find an idea that was safe and sweet, temporary and cheap!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Nursery Nook Sneak Peek

Hello again!

I am busy enjoying a full summer that included a visit from Cliff's best friend, a trip to Vegas and a visit from our in-laws. Good times.

I have also been really busy in my classroom. We are getting a new reading program and I couldn't be more excited. I had been teaching the same reading program and stories for eight years and was feeling a little stale. This new program is jam packed and the schedule will be tighter than ever. Not the best time in my life to be so challenged, but it still feels like a shot in the arm to have new stories and fresh new books.

And, like most of the bloggers I read, Pinterest has been taking up quite a bit of my crafting time.

This image had me at hello.

I have always liked "sleep" as a nursery theme.  Since our baby's last name starts with "Z" I had originally planned a collage of "z's" for over the crib.

When I saw picture this I fell in love. It captures the sleep theme. It's very feminine and completely earthquake safe. It's also temporary.

For the time being,  the baby will be sleeping in our room. We have a guest room that will be pretty busy with family coming in from out of town to visit and frankly, I am not prepared to have a baby sleep so far away. I thought, why bother with a crib in one room and a bassinet in another? So we put the crib in our master bedroom and left the guest room as is. I am not sure how long this arrangement will last, but I think it will meet our needs for the first few months.

Back to the banner, my first thought was to copy it verbatim.  Then shortly after I saw that picture, I happened to just glance over my shoulder while walking out of the Goodwill and saw this mess out of the corner of my eye.

It was an assortment of lightweight plastic birds. The sweet kind that remind me of the birds who hold ribbons in Cinderella.
 They aren't as earthquake friendly as the paper ones in the inspiration photo, but they are hallow and do have a sturdy hook to hang them with.
I have a whole flock to work with!


Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Clips- Instead of Pins


Clips saved me with this project! So much easier, quicker and painless.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Extream Makeover: Car Seat Edition- The Reveal


I did it! I was nervous and also challenged the whole time, but I love it and I am thrilled with the results. Once I built up the nerve to try and remake the hood, I realized that I wasn't bound to the orange, gray, tan color scheme. I found a large piece of green twill in my stash and bought the polka dot fabric from Joannes.  I recycled all the trim and bias tape from the old seat and just added a bit of homemade bias tape on the hood for detail.


I took lots of pictures of the original seat as the tutorial suggested, but not necessarily the one I needed. Isn't that the way! So from time to time it was a real challenge to figure the best way to sew a certain seam, or bias tape, etc... Still, I found the challenge to be enjoyable. It's not often that I do something completely new.

I used the exact padding on the seat cover so that only the top fabric was changed. I used the black edging from the original car seat that has all the loops, elastic and holes to secure it to the seat. However, I greatly simplified the design on the hood which had a patchwork of clear vinyl, mesh, and several colors. Using the lining as a pattern I made the hood out of four solid pieces.


The vinyl window was a real challenge with my machine until I remembered reading a post long ago about sewing vinyl with tissue paper. It worked like a charm. It was so cool to see how much my sewing skills have grown over my years blogging! However, this took hours and hours to do! I think it was a one time deal for me!

As for the safety issues of a replacement cover. Yes, I am aware that it may void my warranty and that the safety techs who will install it probably will comment on how it is less safe. I can only hope the CHP officer who installs it is as good looking as Ponch or John while he lectures me.

In all seriousness though, I did weigh all my options before choosing to do this. With all parenting decisions we all have to weigh which risks we will worry about and which we can just accept. We live in the heart of LA and unlike many Angelenos, we do very little driving. Very little. And the local driving we do experience is often at *very* low speeds. My husband works from home and his 18 year old car has less than 65,000 miles on it.  The reality is that parking where we live is expensive so we often walk to restaurants and museums. Most of the miles this car seat experiences will be via stroller.

Also, we have a brand new "My Ride 65" that will be our primary car seat once the baby is about 13 pounds or so. The reviews on that car seat (and my SIL's personal experience) state that it's a bit hard to adjust with a tiny baby and great with bigger babies.
Car Seat BeforeIMG_3521
So there you have it! My very first sewing project for Baby Girl!

Monday, August 8, 2011

Extream Makeover: Car Seat Edition

 I  have finally embarked on a sewing project for my own wee one!

We have been so blessed to receive tons of hand-me-downs for this lucky baby. We already have a crib, high chair, car seat and stroller! The excitement and generosity of our friends is amazing and I am so grateful.

Source: google.com via J on Pinterest

This is a stock photo of our car seat. Our friends Will and Kristen gave it to us along with a really cool stroller. We know it has never been in an accident, we have been in touch with Maxi Cosi checking for recalls etc... Everything checks out and we are set to go. Early on, when I thought  I might have a boy, I was totally content. But, after learning we were having a girl, I began itching for something a little more feminine. I started noticing little stains and scuff marks.

Then I saw this car seat makeover and tutorial on Make It And Love It and I was suddenly obsessed with the idea of pimping my ride.

At first, I was intimidated and felt limited by very intermediate sewing skills.

Then I learned that a replacement cover from Maxi Cosi was just $36. Not such a big risk after all.

I decided to just recover the seat part. The hood seemed way out of my range. I created a "pinboard" to save fabric ideas that might work with the hood colors.  To my surprise, there were a lot of girly orange fabrics out there. I even had some plain orange denim in my stash that would work well enough.
I read the tutorial about a thousand times and studied every inch of the car seat's construction.  That's when I realized I would never be happy with just recovering the seat. It was a "If you give a mouse a cookie" situation. If I was going to go through all that work to recover the seat, I wanted the hood to look fresh and new too.
So I did it! I used my seam ripper and spent hours carefully deconstructing, photographing, and labeling each and every piece of that car seat cover and hood!

It was intense!  I learned so much from the whole process. The first thing I learned:

Source: etsy.com via J on Pinterest

The women on Etsy who make and sell custom car seat covers (such as this one above) earn every single penny they charge!

Tune in tomorrow for the results of my latest obsession.