Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Last Minute Changes & Decorations

I am learning to be very flexible as a mom. I had planned to have the party at our church. They have a lovely parlor and kitchen area. It has plenty of tables and chairs and a huge stone fire place. There is plenty of parking. I was looking forward to showing off my church.  About an hour before the party as we were just setting out, my friend called to tell me that all the roads leading to our church were being closed for the Hollywood Christmas Parade. This annual event had escape my notice during the 8 years we lived just a block away. How I missed this huge planning snafu I can not say. However, there was literally no way around it. So in an instant I changed the party to our apartment. I quickly divided up the guest list and we each called and emailed our respective friends. I backed the start time up one hour to give me time to clean the apartment.

And, everything came together beautifully! Many guests had cancelled due to illness- was nobody spared the 24 hour stomach bug? Other friends were trapped on the other side of the Hollywood parade. So my guest list was much smaller and more manageable. Perfect for a home party.

This pretty tissue flower came from the 99 Cent Only Store. It was leftover from Easter. I just replaced the eggs with a Matryoshka.

I filled my Christmas door box with party blowers and quickly taped another Matryoshka over the reindeer.
birthday banner
This summer (OK six months before her party) I found this scrapbook pad by Martha Stewart at AC Moore. I instantly fell in love with the vintage look of the patterns and the teal, aqua, red and pink colorway. So this paper was used in all of the decorations. For the banner I covered a $ store banner in scrapbook paper. It is held together with brass brads. I love it and plan to swap out the Matryoshka dolls for Raggedy Anne next year.

Ikea had the perfect pale aqua napkins. I made paper napkin rings on the computer to again tie in the theme.

We used photos of the birthday girl and a tall desert table for the rest of the decorations.

I had streamers and a balloon garland planned, but it was not to be. No matter, it just means that I am extra prepared for next year!

Monday, December 3, 2012

Matryoshka Birthday Party

When Marilee was about a month old my mother in law nicknamed her "Dolly." Since then, not a week goes by without someone commenting that she looks like a doll or is a doll.So naturally a doll themed party was in order. I started pinning Raggedy Anne and Matryoshka doll party ideas.  I love both themes equally, but the gift of this dinnerware sold me on Matryoshka for this year.

I am going to blog one feature of the party a day. That way it will be manageable enough to actually complete.  Today I will start with the invitation.

A quick google seach of Matryoshka invites will result in lots of really great ideas and even a few free downloads. Seriously, one thing is cuter than the next. I used several ideas from these searches for inspiration, but ultimately designed the invite all by myself.

one finger

 When I found this picture in my camera, I knew it had to be a photo invite. Creating my own invites also taught me a thing or two about digital scrapbooking. For starters, I purchased this digital clipart of matryoshkas. Then I also downloaded several freebies from Sahlin Studio.  Paying just a few dollars for the matryoshka clip art allowed me to make lots of small party elements and keep the same few doll images.

 marilee invite

I created the picture in Pic Monkey. First I uploaded the background image from Sahlin Studios. Then I added overlays of all the other elements. Finally, I added the text.  Then I uploaded the whole thing to Snapfish and ordered postcards. I was able to order just ten. Those folks who don't use email, the grandparents and her godmother all got a hard copy. Eveyone else got an email evite.

 craft frame marilee w doll
To save time and money I used www.evite.com.  To customize the evite, I used PicMonkey and specifically the "overlays feature" which even allows you to upload your own overlays. Doing this allowed me to establish the theme while still using a fairly limited template from the evite program.

Using evite was pretty successful and I would do it again. Having a few hardcopy invites was also great. So I did appreciate that I could order just ten postcards.

Stay tuned for other party elements.

My Baby Turned One!

There are so many things I could say about Marilee and how time flies and all that, but I find myself at a loss for words to describe this year. I wish I had blogged it more so I could look back. Sigh. No matter how neglectful I have been of this space, I wanted to document her first birthday.
Since her birthday was the day before Thanksgiving, we had a small little dinner with the grandparents at Shakey's Pizza. I bought her one cupcake and she loved it. Not sure if any actually got into her mouth, but she loved playing with it. I loved that Shakey's carpet got ruined and not mine.

We also had a lovely party with friends and I want to document that as well. But, it's off to work for me for now. Thank you blogging friends for your love and encouragement over the years. My cup overflows.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Hello Again!

Yikes! Four months since my last post. Well, you know a lifetime has happened. During our nearly six year journey with infertility I used to think about all the things I could blog about once I had a baby. All the beautiful little dresses I could sew, the nursery, the funny and sweet things the baby did. Going back to teaching at 10 weeks pretty much kicked my crafty butt.

Just one day into our summer vacation we embarked on a three week tour of NY & NJ to see friends and family. Lots and lots of friends and family. It was an awesome trip. So yes, it's summer, but again, no time to craft or blog.

I guess the biggest news is that Marilee can crawl!

We left for NY on her 7 month birthday and the very next day she started crawling. She crawled for the first time to my grandfather and it was a miracle.

So back in 2005 my grandfather was diagnosed with cancer. Wanting my future child to know him, we actually started "trying" earlier than planned. We even hoped to surprise him with pregnancy news at his 80th birthday party that year. Ha! Let's just say I have learned a lot about control and timing in the last six years.

My grandfather used to say, "If you are worried pray, and if you pray don't worry." Wise but very challenging words. I wish I could say I followed that advice. Oh sure, I pray, but I also worry plenty. Fortunately, many others prayed for us too- including some of you dear friends!  The cancer came and went, and came back again. Then I was told that he was starting to have memory problems. And, like the rest of us, he just wasn't getting any younger.

God truly does know the desires of our hearts and this summer Marilee crawled for the very first time to her great-grandfather! It was a moment I will always treasure. He was an excellent coach and spent a lot of time on his hands and knees demonstrating the proper form and offering encouragement. Encouragement indeed! The picture says it all, they are buddies!

On my husband's side of the family, Marilee met dozens of relatives at a huge family reunion. She poured on the charm and was a perfect baby Betsy Ross. We had a wonderful traditional small town 4th of July. Best of all we even got to see Great Aunt Kate who was born just 100 years and 11 days before Marilee.

We also had lots of time to get to know our two nieces who are each 16 months old. It was the first time we met either of them and watching our girls play together was an incredible sibling bonding experience for both Cliff and I.

Other updates:
I am still nursing. Surprised to say that I do love it. It has overall been a great experience. I am both ready and sad to start a slow and gradual weaning process. For many reasons it's time, but I just can not believe how fast this year is whizzing past me. Someone on TV mentioned that there are only 3 1/2 months left in the election campaign and I nearly started crying because that means I only have 3 1/2 months before Marilee turns 1. That simply can not be accurate?

I did love co-sleeping for the most part. There was nothing sweeter than watching my babe sleep and wake up together as a family. It also worked pretty well for me to both nurse and sleep at the same time while working, but gradually she began to drink less and less pumped milk from a bottle and rely on the night feedings more and more. By the end of the school year we had regressed to feedings every two hours all night long. The last week of school she went on a bottle strike. In addition, when I would nurse her down, I often fell asleep myself. I would wake at 11 or so having "wasted" my whole evening and all my free time. While traveling our accommodations, schedule, and the fact that she could crawl made co-sleeping mostly impossible and unsafe. So we strapped her into a swing, stroller or "rock and play sleeper." This worked pretty well and set the stage for transitioning to her crib.

So we crib trained her this past week upon our return home. It was absolutely horrible and just fine at the same time. The key was to finally move her out of our room and into her own room. She raged a bit and that nearly killed me, but after a few days in her own room she is doing great at self soothing. Guess what! I have rediscovered my husband! He was so afraid of rolling over on Marilee that he stayed strictly on his side of the bed. And, for my part, I was more often than not asleep at 7:30! We were both very committed to co-sleeping and tried to make time for each other so that it wouldn't adversely affect our relationship, but it wasn't ideal.  Now, we actually get to chat or watch TV together at night without fear of waking up the baby. 

This weekend I started pulling out a bunch of stuff that I had saved for a nursery. Soon I will have pictures. Nothing fancy, just a DIY, thrifted and gifted space.

I look forward to being here a bit more now that I have some free time in the evenings.
Thanks for reading!

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Reading Nook

We have this strange little corner nook in our living room. When we first moved in, my father thought it was just crying out for a statue. Lots of ideas were suggested, but we left it blank until this weekend. It took me two weeks to get some ten minute Ana White $10 Ledges built, but they are done now and I am thrilled with the results!
Marilee's Reading Nook
I have made a bunch of these ledges and I love them all. They are easy, affordable, and quick. Especially true if you don't have a baby afraid of the drill. Imagine that! My kid afraid of the drill. Maybe it's for the best. Probably so.

I got the idea for the planter thing from this pin. The adorable lamb rug is from Aunt Piper via Red Envelope.
Of course, I have all sorts of geeky teacher plans to thematically arrange the bookshelves. In the meantime, board books it is. 

She Likes It
I think she likes it!

Monday, April 9, 2012

Tired Little Rabbit

Sleepy Little Rabbit

Little Bunny Foo Foo is all tired out and so is her mama. Parenting "Duh" #432- Time off from work does not mean free time anymore!

We enjoyed a pretty quiet Easter, but the week before hand was a bit hectic. I tried to accomplish a long to-do list saved up since Marilee's birth. (I told myself, "April break, I'll get that done during April break.") Of course, you veteran mama's know that the word "break" is well, no longer applicable. So, I have a bunch of half finished projects.

Also in the mix are a few "pins" that were complete busts. I'll share those tomorrow.
In the meantime, we are going to walk down to the grocery store to pick up some 50% off Easter candy. I am looking to use it for Marilee's baptism which is coming up in two weeks. In just one week the first set of grandparents arrives! Whoo hoo! Send in the reinforcements!!

Friday, April 6, 2012

Happy Easter!

Amish Baby
The story of Easter is the story of God's wonderful window of divine surprise. ~Carl Knudsen

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Getting My Crafty Feet Wet

So, it's not so easy to craft with a baby. I know that many of you are probably thinking, "Duh!"

With so many blogs named things like "While She Naps" and "Nap Time Crafts" etc... I kinda thought there would be more time. Maybe if I had a designated space to craft in, it would be easier. Much of my craft energy is sucked up just thinking about the time it would take to set up and clean up. That's when I just say, "Nah" and go on Pinterest instead. The weekends fill up so quickly now too. It really is a whole new world. I knew it would be. I just didn't know in what ways.

Anyway, I have made three things lately that are blog worthy. Probably even worthy of their own posts, but as they say, "Those were the days."

Project 1. Cookies for my niece Ava's first birthday. My sister in law stayed home this year. Awesome opportunity! No paycheck. Womp, womp, womp. So when first birthday time came around I offered to help with the party in lieu of a birthday toy or outfit type gift. The cookies that I made were the party favors.
This was a whole family effort. Cliff watched the baby while I worked pretty much round the clock. Marilee did get in on the action during some of her feedings though. The party colors were pink and purple and timing was perfect to get Easter m&m's for the "cherry" on top.

 I had grand packaging ideas courtesy of Pinterest.  In the end, I stapled the bags shut and hot glued a scalloped cut out over the staples. I mailed out 60 of these babies and only 11 broke in transit. Not too bad. My SIL needed about 40 for her party.

Project #2 My other niece, Elle, also turned one this month. (Both nieces are only a day apart in age!) While I would have loved to do something just as grand for my little Elle, I simply didn't have the time or energy.
I decided to give them something sentimental. The inspiration pin:

Cute right? There are so many changes in the first year that I thought it would be great to capture them in one place. Also, what do you do with all the cute snapshots other than put them in an album? I wanted those little moments to be available for more frequent glances.

Here is my version:
I am not even going to apologize for the photography. It is what it is these days.

I chose a shadow box frame. I used the scalloped punch that I already had and mounted the photos with thick mounting stickers that stand out a bit. Elle's room is pink and white, so I used pink and white scrapbook paper for the background. I had planed to make a flower for one space similar to the star above, but I couldn't vote any of the pictures off of the island. This Auntie loved them all too much.

Sleeping, crying, the little hands. I know I want to remember all these little things!
I spy a Molly Monkey! Yes, it turns out it's a favorite!

This project was quick and easy to make. I lifted the pictures from my brother's flicker and facebook accounts. That took the most amount of time. The rest was a breeze.

Project #3 hardly deserves to be called a project. It comes from one of those pre-printed panels and was sewn together in minutes. Although, I would like props for dragging out the ironing board. That thing hasn't seen the light of day this year.

I was super psyched to find this panel because Marilee is going to a birthday party this weekend and I needed something extra for the gift. My colleague volunteered at the LA Zoo for quite a while and was especially involved in the new elephant exhibit. So this is perfect for them.

I had emailed my friend about sizes and such and she told me:
They like primary colors and especially spring green. The baby is thin, so elastic waistbands are a must. They prefer gender neutral stuff and they love animals.

Source: crazy8.com via J on Pinterest

I am pretty excited about the gift. I found this adorable spring green panda sweater at Crazy 8 and paired it with some black leggings.

Animals- check!
Spring green-check!
Elastic waistband- check!
Gender neutral- well, c'mon how cute is the bow?

Crazy 8 is my new favorite kids store. I haven't bought Marilee anything from anywhere (except for socks) because we have gotten tons of  gifts and  hand-me-down motherload from my niece Ava and a few other friends. But, I have gotten a few things for Ava as thank you treats and the prices are fantastic! Also, I like that the clothes look like they are for children. Baby Gap can be hit or miss. Sometimes it's awesome. But I went there once when I was pregnant and everything looked like a shrunken version of Banana Republic. I don't need my babes to look like they are going to a cocktail party after a full day at the office.

It feels good to be back in this space. Summer is just around the corner. We have grand travel plans, but hopefully, I'll get back to crafting too. It really is part of who I am and I miss it! How have all of you been?

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

A Quick Note of Thanks

Dancing Baby
Sara made us this wonderful quilt that looks like a piece of notebook paper.
I think it's safe to say that both Marilee and I love it!
What makes it extra special is that we had picked out her name years ago after we were first married. That first year here in LA I had to take a bunch of classes to get my CA credential. During the dull moments I would write all our initials, and write out her name dozens of time. Cursive, print, you know, just like in high school. Only I was 32. I have to dig up those notebooks. I bet I could find the pages.

So, in other news, this Tuesday feels like it should be a Friday already. Nothing serious or bad, just seems like I've already put in a full week. How about you?

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Mama Can Multi-Task

 I read somewhere that a woman's brain becomes more flexible after having children because of all the multi-tasking.
Who's the Cake Cookie Boss now?!  Sixty cupcake cookies for my niece's first birthday. Ready to be shipped to NY.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Nouveau Decor

Binder clips and links. Fresh new look daily.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

For the Love of a Mobile

Marilee is at the stage where she will look at a mobile for a good 10 to 15 minutes. In my world that is a lifetime! Naturally we want to have mobiles all over the house. We were gifted a crib mobile with a music box, so we moved this mobile to over her changing area.

I saw this idea first on Pinterest and wrote about making one here. It's terrific because the breeze from our heater makes it move and twirl quite a bit.

Recently we set up a pack and play in the office and I wanted to add a mobile in there as well.
Mobile Supplies
The Michaels dollar aisle yeilded some cardboard birds and some assorted wooden shapes. Then this Sunday we were given a present with such beautiful wrapping paper I was completely inspired.Mobile 3
Mobile 2
A little Modge Podge, paint and wrapping paper and we were in business. I do plan on adding some ribbon to the embroidery hoop as in the mobile above, but otherwise I am quite pleased. Most of this was done while nursing so that alone is an accomplishment!

I go back to work tomorrow and I am feeling pretty good about it. Cliff is going to be the modern stay at home dad and I think he is looking forward to that new job too.  Mostly, I feel incredibly blessed to have a good job in this economy and a sweet family to come home to.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Here is the last of my Picnik projects.  Remember they are closing down the site on April 19.
This is a repost from February 2010.

Google Eye Valentines from Family Fun
Family Fun Magazine has the best ideas! This month two ideas for Valentines grabbed my attention. The Google Eye Valentines and the scratch off Valentines.

Valentines for My Students

Since both ideas were stellar, I decided to combine them and do both.

I took a close up picture and edited it in Picnik. In Picnik I added a Valentines boarder and "sticker" with text. The text on the heart has pun filled messages such as "Eye think your great!" Puns are so great for my English language learners.  Then I had the photos printed at Walgreens. Next, I covered the heart "sticker" with clear contact paper and silver metalic craft paint mixed with a dab of soap. The easiest part was adding the google eyes. I got these great stick on google eyes at Michaels. They came in assorted sizes which just makes everything even sillier.

"Eye" think they will be a hit with my pupils.

Update: Yes, they were a hit. In fact some of the students kept them in their pencil boxes. I think as teachers we sometimes forget to be silly with our students. They really do love it.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Favorite Picnik Projects Before They Close

This week I am going to repost some of my favorite projects using Picnik. I believe their last day is April 19. There is time to make any number of projects if you don't delay.

Anyway, this post actually comes from my old school blog, My Many Colored Crayons. This was one of my favorite projects ever. Enjoy!

Sky Blue's PortraitRed Ribbon Week Door Contest
Portrait of a Drug Free Future!
It's Red Ribbon Week at OFS and this year we are celebrating with a door decorating contest. I have a slight problem with bragging about the Crayons and today is no exception. Check out this door!! See our Red Ribbon bracelets? The little "red ribbons" contain student writing on why they pledge to be drug free. I think it has a good chance at winning!

And, I really want to win which is silly since the prize hasn't even been announced.

I was inspired by a portrait project in this month's Family Fun magazine which unfortunately is not linked yet. However, their project had multiple
steps and involved acrylic paint. It just seemed a bit complicated when multiplied by 25 students. Last week was the Hispanic Heritage Month Dance. This week is the book fair and OCR testing, so teaching them how to draw a self portrait was out of the question.
Goldenrod's PortraitRose's PortraitSpruce Green's Portrait

My version of Cheater Self Portraits used few supplies and worked out well for fourth graders with little experience with water colors.

Here's our tutorial for Watercolor (Cheater) Self Portraits:

drawing paper cut to 8.5" X 11"
water colors
a digital picture
a computer with internet access

1. Take a picture with your digital camera. I think a close up or a relatively simple scene would work best.
(This picture is not of a student but, from an ad.)

2. Go to Picnik and upload the photo(s) for free! Choose their
"create" menu and then scroll down the special effects until you find the one that is called "Pencil Sketch." Apply that effect to your picture.

3. Print the picture out on the drawing paper. At work I have access to a laser printer. At home I used an inkjet and I found worked well even with water colors.

4. Paint the picture with water colors. Less is more. It's nice to let a little of the print come through. It makes the details like a nose, much easier.
I gave my students two copies so that they could practice controlling the paint and mixing colors. I am pleased with the outcome. It took two hour long sessions to complete.

Update: That was the post from way back in 2009. Naturally, we did win the door contest and the prize was a new Connect Four game. Sweet! Later I went on to make another watercolor of my colleague's daughter. I thought it came out super cute.

Water Color Girl

I had always planned on making several others as Christmas gifts for various people. And, of course, now I want one of my own kiddo. I wonder how many I can get done between now and April 19?

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Custom Kleenex Boxes

tissue box design
I may have the most photographed baby in the world. At least up until 2 1/2 months that is. Once I return to work next week, I doubt I will be playing photo studio quite so much.

Anyway, last year I signed up for some special promotion whereby Kleenex would sending free tissues to a friend.  I like mail and I thought that would be a sweet surprise for a friend so I joined in. Since then, I get Kleenex promotional emails. Most I delete without a glance. However, I happened to open an email telling about making custom tissue boxes. Goodness what a sucker I am!

$5.99 for the custom tissue box and another $5 for shipping. Friends, I just spent $20 on Kleenex! These special tissue boxes will be delivered to the Grandparents. Hopefully in time for Valentines Day. Come to think of it, I didn't even look at how long they took to make and ship! Watch, it's six weeks or something! Oh well. Both our parents waited a long time to become grandparents. I guess their noses deserve some special treatment.

Since my husband and I both love a good pun, the pink heart reads, "I 'tissue' were here!"

Speaking of Kleenex, (and who knew there was so much to say?) have you tried the new cooling Kleenex?
I saw a supermarket display of these with a free sample. My friends they are actually cold. The tissue has menthol or something in it which makes them cold. They feel really good on a sore nose. Expensive compared to the store brand I normally buy, but quite the treat.

By the way, Kleenex did not pay me or reward me for this post, although the should because I just spent $20 and well over 100 words on tissues! Oy vey!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Last Chance for Picnik- Pictures into Embroidery Transfer

Did you hear? Picnik, the free photo editing site associated with Flickr, is shutting down on April 19, 2012.Boo hoo! I love that site and use it a lot. Of course, I never did pay the $28 for the premium membership. So, I guess I am part of the problem. Sigh. Anyway, until April 19 all their premium features are now available for free! This week I decided to feature some of my old projects using Picnik.

Here is a post from May 2010.

I really love the Sublime Stitching patterns by Jenny Hart. Her motto is "Not your grandmother's embroidery!" There are so many fun patterns. The flickr group is loaded with eye candy. This Etsy store, Sew Lovely Embroidery, also has wonderful modern designs.

However the other night I had the itch to stitch right then and there. You know how it is when an idea strikes! So, I came up with my own way to convert a picture into an embroidery pattern that was simple enough for me to do.

This pin up cowgirl was my starting photo. I found the picture on Google and uploaded it into Picnik. Then under the "Create" tab I clicked on "effects." Next I chose "pencil sketch." And the result was the photo below.

From there, I clicked on the "Edit" tab and chose "Exposure." I moved both the "Exposure" and "Contrast" settings as far as I could so that it would look like an even simpler drawing.

The result was this. Notice how most of the background is gone now and the details are sharper? This was good, but I knew I wanted it even simpler. So, still in Picnik, I chose the "Create" tab and went to stickers. I used the rectangle under "Geometric"  (and slid the color to white) to cover up the fire and the photographer's name. Then I went to text and added the "Dinner!" Finally, I downloaded it to my computer and printed it out. I was very careful to print it in "mirror image" so that I could use Citra-Solv to transfer my pattern to the fabric.

To do the Citra-Solv transfer I photocopied my print out and taped the photocopy print side down to my fabric. I used regular old scotch tape. Be sure not to cover any of the design with tape. Then I took a paper towel with a bit of Citra-Solv on it and rubbed it all over the design. Lastly, I burnished the paper by rubbing the entire design really hard with the edge of a spoon.

Embroidered Cowgirl
I had a lot of fun changing up the colors for this design. Here is the finished project:
Embroidered Dishtowel

Update: Since this process worked so well, I went on to create this Texas tote.
Texas Tote
You can see that full post here.