I used to make Barbie dresses by cutting out a circle of fabric, adding three holes in the middle, fitting it over the head and arms of the doll, adding a belt, and there you go! A great Barbie dress. And then came dresses with a few hand-stitches involved. Eventually, my mom let me use her sewing machine to make a few things…but I don’t think that went very well. Fast forward many many years, and I find myself knowing a lot about sewing, from pure osmosis, but not really being able to even thread a machine. From hanging out with my Mom and her quilting magazines, I started to feel the urge to really sew, like a real sewist. (haha, that is a word apparently) Sew, with the help of my Mom and a friend, I have started on the sewist path in life. I can now thread and re-bobbin my machine. Next step in this new world: tools. I was almost overly excited with this purchase (thanks to a Michael’s coupon). You people rarely see me so excited, I can tell you. Now to begin: I have a cutting mat, ruler and cutter, bring on some fabric!
Sew, the other day I picked up a little kit for a ‘baby taggie blanket’ at a (insert heavenly music) quilting store and decided that I would make it for the next day’s baby shower. First I needed to test my new rotary cutter….on something……here this will do….she doesn’t needs sleeves anyways…
The new kit was an assortment of cut ribbons, a small rectangle of flannel and a small rectangle of…..purple minky. (Yes, that’s really a word, too) At the last minute I decided maybe I should look up ‘tips for sewing with minky’ online. Well, it turns out it’s a good idea to wash your fabrics before you use them…I read this after I had cut the flannel. Instead of making just a little blanket, I thought how cool it would be if I could make some baby blocks to go along with it. (I was feeling ambitious with my new tools!) And so now I needed to wash the pieces. I really didn’t think I could or should skip that step. (Someone said that the minky is treated with sprays for bugs!) I carefully threw them in the wash in those little mesh washing bags…..and came back to this:ugh. Who knew flannel unravels so much!? (Probably everyone but me). I was able to salvage my pieces, and since there wasn’t an exact pattern for the taggie blanket, I just kept trimming. This project had to keep going, no matter what.This was the piece for the stuffed blocks which I was going to make with scraps of flannel and minky. *Maybe I should pause here and insert a little dictionary of terms, since they were fairly new to me and might be to you, too. A “taggie” blanket is an extra small blanket for a baby to play with, rimmed with “tags” of ribbon. Have you ever noticed how fond babies are of playing with and sucking on those little tags on the bums of stuffed animals? Someone somewhere noticed and invented these cute, mother-sanctioned, play blankets. Cool, eh? And now about the Minky…..
As I was starting my project, it was immediately interrupted by supper. While we were eating, I casually mentioned my new little project, and added offhandedly, “I had to wash my Minky” into one of those conversation lulls that sometimes happens. Talk about your supper conversation stopper. After a long awkward pause, and a few ‘Mom-what-on-earth-are-you-talking-about-?’ glances, I explained that Minky is a fuzzy furry kind of fabric sometimes used to make quilts or backing quilts, and it may or may not have little bumps all over it. Ahhhh!
I dare you to try that phrase out at your next supper party. (You could practice it a few times out loud right now!) It might get some interesting reactions, if you sup with non-sewers.Sew, I tried to make sure I figured this all out. Right sides together, ribbons facing in, check. It seemed like a bit of quilting should be added to keep the minky and flannel together and un-floppy. Some notepaper as a quilting pattern seemed like a good idea. Pin that slippery Minky down!Just sew over it….And easy as pie, tear away the paper…..or not……the stitches looked like they’d rip out, so I ended up using a seam-ripper (another cool tool) to perforate the paper and to c a r e f u l l y rip it out from around the stitches. Waaay more work that I had originally bargained for. Now for those exciting, 3D blocks! The pattern in the magazine looked straight forward enough…Wow, I couldn’t believe it! Matching up the dots and actually following instructions left me with an actual 3D block!! Oh wait, you have to turn it inside out?Maybe leave that opening a bit bigger next time….. And sew, 2 blocks were sewn and I felt very accomplished and proud. Tada! Here are the pics: Found some fun baby sleepers to go with my sewing projects!The best part: finishing on time for the surprise baby shower!! It’s nice to give something that has had a lot of my time, love, and work put into it. I definitely learned a few lessons…..probably won’t be buying or washing Minky in the near future, will sew edges of flannel before washing, etc. I figure every project will teach me something new. Oh, wait, that sounds like school or something, yuck! What I mean is that I plan to have fun making some awesome sewing projects in the near future, whether I learn something or not!
An easy way for toddlers and preschoolers to celebrate Valentine’s Day! Pink dough to play with! Mix up a quick batch of pink colored dough and break out the heart cookie cutters! The recipe I used is at the end of the post. Here’s my nostalgic look back at my babies busy at work on their “Valentines”We’re going to make something!Squish that pinkness!The idea was to get them to make a Valentine on the table, then I would photograph it as their “valentines” for Daddy and Grandma and Grandpa.And that’s what we did.It was a lot of very pink fun! I had to play a bit, too….Here’s the recipe I use for play dough:
2 and 1/2 cups of white all purpose flour (I’ve tried it with whole wheat flour, and let’s just say…No!)
1 cup of salt (fine, not coarse)
2 small packages of Kool Aid (the ones without real sugar) this is optional. if you don’t have Kool Aid, then add food coloring
3 tsp. vegetable oil (canola oil is good)
2 cups of boiling water
Mix all the dry ingredients together, then add the boiling water. Stir it all together very well and turn out onto a surface where you can knead it a bit. It will be hot, so let it cool a bit before kneading. Then knead away until it becomes smooth. When it’s cool enough, the kids can start playing. As soon as it’s cool enough, either play with it or seal it in plastic bags so it doesn’t start drying out. This will last for quite awhile in a sealed bag. Note: the Kool Aid is just for easy color and aroma! We used cherry for Valentine’s day. If the kids love the smell so much that they taste it, it won’t hurt them at all, just a little salty. If there’s worry about the flour, then I’d say don’t add the Kool Aid and then it won’t smell appetizing enough for little ones to put into their mouths!
Fun for the kids to make, and the photos are easy to send to everyone online, no mess, no snail mail! 😉 Just digital cuteness from the kids! Happy ❤ weekend!
How do you say Happy Valentine’s Day to those you love? Flowers, candy, cards, or some even bigger display? Or do you prefer to do something special together? Or is it one of those days that just slips by? I saw a funny “quote” the other day. It was a photo from Star Wars and the caption was “I’ll be celebrating Valentine’s Day Han’s style….Solo!” Maybe that’s more you 🙂
We don’t make a super big hoohaw about Valentine’s Day, a few special things, like maybe chocolate or sometimes flowers. I’m usually in favor of homemade or home-printed Valentines. (OK, I admit sometimes I put way too much work into the “homemade” Valentines that the kids take to school. But this year, I put in 10 minutes of work on a printable, and then they are on their own, I’m just too tired,with a been there, done that kind of feeling). Anwyays, I came up with a brilliant idea that I think will make a memorable Valentine’s Day for us this year: The kids are in charge of making and serving supper for my husband and I. Sounds a tad dangerous, but I intend to enjoy it! We’ll see how it goes…
After having said that, I admit I did make a few Valentine’s cookies. I had the dough in the fridge and a few more M&Ms from the last couple of posts! 🙂 And I had these cute letter cookie cutters to try out! (A fun gift from a friend) So here goes a little tutorial for some fairly easy, but attention-getting cookies.
Ingredients: chocolate cookie dough and candy melts (I use Wilton brand) and letter cookie cutters (or just freehand it) and small heart cutters.Amor= love in Spanish 😉 Galletas=Cookies! Cut out letters and a bunch of small or medium hearts for bases.Bake and let cool…..cool!Melt up some red and white candy melts and get ready to pipe them out of baggies with only a tiny corner snipped off…Squeeze strings of candy melt out while moving back and forth over all the letters. Repeat with next color.Then pick up each letter and break off the extra bits of candy melt off the sides, this is really easy and works well.Line up the letters and the bases, some letters need two hearts for their bases.Use some more candy melt to attach the bases, I used dark cocoa candy melts (only took 3 melts)Holding the letters in place for about 5 seconds was mostly enough to balance the letters, but if necessary, prop them up for a bit…The candy melts set up quite quickly. Here’s the bird’s eye view:And there you go! The letters are quite sturdy and just so fun looking! Great for a Valentine’s Day centerpiece.Oh wait! Since you have the cookie dough out, and maybe a few extra cookies baked, go ahead and decorate some more for your centerpiece. Here’s how I did it with Nutella and M&Ms using the same idea from the other day’s post: The kids wanted to cut out some Os and Xs for hugs and kisses, so I used up the last of the red M&Ms on these:And here’s one for you from me (sorry it’s not edible but I’m all about digital stuff)
I’d love to hear from you if you try out some of my little cookie techniques! 🙂
Time for a family movie night! We just had to get around to watching the Narnia movies sometime during our Narnian Christmas theme. Yes, it did start out as a November Narnia theme during the C.S. Lewis memorial week, but now it has transformed into a Narnian Christmas! The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe is the second book in the series, but the first movie (Disney version) that has come out in recent years, so we started with that one. I wanted the kids to enter into the land of Narnia to watch the movie. I’ve been thinking about this theme for awhile, and about ideas to do, so have been gathering a few props. But in the end, I had to throw this movie night together quickly because there happened to be a free, non-school-night that would work.
What images pop into your mind when you think of The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe? I guess those three things would be the first obvious ones, the Lion Aslan, the wardrobe full of fur coats which leads into Narnia, and the White Witch who has made it always winter and never Christmas in Narnia. And if you thought of something to eat…would it be the Turkish delight that tempts Edmund into betraying his siblings to the witch? How about that famous symbol, the lighted lamp post, where Lucy first meets the Faun, Mr. Tumnus, in the middle of a wintry wood.
It wasn’t too hard to find some of these things and to quickly decorate my room for movie night. I love the idea of the warm fur coats that the kids push through to get into the back of the wardrobe, and later borrow to wear in the wintry Narnia. Of course I dreamed of making wardrobe doors that would open up and lead into Narnia (I was just going to make them out of large cardboard boxes) but (also of course) I didn’t have time to make all of my ideas. So I passed on the wardrobe and just focused on pushing through the fur coats to get into the land beyond. No fur coats around here, so I used my faux-fur throw (the dark brown color was perfect). Here’s the simple how-to:Get a fur blanket and a tension rod, install the rod in the door frame and drape the blanket over it, that’s all!This is what the inside of the door looked like. The blanket was too heavy to cover the whole door, which would have been cool, but I didn’t have safety pins to pin it, and clothespins didn’t work, so just draped it hanging as long as I could. It gave the right effect, when each kid pushed past the fur “robe” and slipped into Narnia….To create an instant and easy forest did require one purchase. I found this canvas picture of an evergreen tree at IKEA. When I first saw them advertised, I thought that they were kind of strange, especially when I saw that ornaments were pinned on, as if it was a Christmas tree, but now I totally changed my mind and love my canvas tree picture! I scored this one in the As-is section for half-off, but here in Canada the regular price is about $14.50. It looked really big in my room, and only took 5 minutes to tack up on the wall, right along the edge of the ceiling, though it does have a sleeve at the top to run a rope or curtain rod through…It really gives the feel of being in a winter forest, though there isn’t actually snow in the picture. And in the process of setting up movie night, I found out that the tree glows in the dark!! How fun is that? Especially where the lamp post shines on it…Which brings us to the all-important lamp post (lamppost? lamp-post? I don’t know how to spell it…) which I wasn’t going to do without. Another IKEA hack!! I have a small Ikea lamp that cost about $7, it uses smaller round bulbs, so I just pulled off the shade and made a lantern-like top out of black cardstock (heavier than paper, lighter than card). Since I was rushed, I didn’t spend much time on it, and the post at the top is proportionally way too big, but “la idea es esa” you get the idea. I won’t leave the lamp post turned on for long, for fear it will burst into flame. It would probably be great with a night-light bulb in it, but oh well. The top is just a square of cardstock, creased cross-ways and basically just setting on, with 2 dots of glue. There are 4 kinda rectangle shapes glued to a paper circle at the bottom, just to give the illusion that it’s wider and solid at the bottom. And that was it, but kinda cute!It’s not at all sturdy, but fine for just a display. I’m sure there would be ways for making it last longer…oops, I forgot to take a before shot of the lamp….I draped a white sheet over the little bookcase (for snow) and set out a few things…. (hey, right when I typed that sentence out about snow, I remembered that I was going to throw white tissue paper on the floor, so that when you stepped “through the wardrobe” you would “crunch” on the snow!!! What a bummer I forgot!! That would have been super easy but really cool).
The craft store (Michaels) had a great plastic lion (used a 40% off coupon!) for Aslan, I really like the expression on his face. We had Susan and her horn from a McDonald’s meal from a long time ago….And of course, a box of Turkish delight! Didn’t have time to try making our own Turkish delight from this recipe from SprinkleBakes that I want to try, and I think (the adults) we were kinda tired of the real stuff anyways, so Henry picked up some of my favorite chocolates….yummy! That went over well! So the rest of the “decorations” were easy, just lots of comfy pillows, and a small white tree with white lights…I had wanted to make chocolate beaver lodges for dessert, but just let it go for another time… We all piled together and got comfy, ate pizza and our Turkish delight for dessert, and enjoyed the Narnia movie! Happy to report that a fun time was had by all. It helps to have heaps of snow outside in the freezing weather and early darkness to make you feel reallllly cozy! Hope this helps with some ideas for a family movie night for your family!
And back to Narnia! We’ve been up to some more DIY (do it yourself) Narnia theme stuff. I’m still here with the Magician’s Nephew. I wanted to include a photo of the book cover from the books that I grew up reading, since they seem a little rare. These ones were published in 1983 and were new when we were given a boxed set of the 7 books. I remember that I wasn’t allowed to read them right away, I had to wait till I was older (10, I think) and I used to gaze in longing at the box…which looked like this:
The illustrations for the covers and box were by Stephen Lavis. Here’s the cover of the first book, and this is how I will always think of it. I loved these illustrations, and like that each book had one of the symbols from that story on the front cover. This one has the apple…And about that apple…..I made some (totally awesome) caramel apples for one of our Narnia treats. For the special apple that Digory picked, I used some edible silver spray paint to make it shine. That caramel was so so very good, I feel like being greedy and not sharing the recipe for it, but that doesn’t seem quite right….so you can find it here. If you really want. But you might not want to because it’s really full of calories and sugar and all that stuff. But just in case you really want to, I will share. Oh wait, I can’t find the link, too bad. If you reallllly want it, beg and I’ll look for the recipe!! 😉Here’s the apple and a quote from the end of the book after he gets the apple and takes it home….And now for some DIY ideas from our display. Start with some empty bottles…This the quote that I wanted to portray in this part of the display in our living room…We had the bottles, now for the candles. All candles now-a-days seem to be dripless. So these ones needed some help. Now, I’ve always been careful about letting my kids play with fire, but I figured they are quite old enough now, and when I remember all the fun stuff Henry and I did playing with fire when we were kids….(we did live in cement houses), it seemed like a good time….Using other candles, we dripped wax down the sides of candles in bottles. Then we melted crayons to add some different colors. Then we lit crayons as torches. I heard that one crayon can burn for 30 minutes. You never know when that fact might come in handy.And then parts of supper (garbanzo beans) were roasted over the candles…It was all fun, and made a great ambiance for our supper, and later, a perfect Narnia display. Oh, here’s something that didn’t make it into the display though I really wanted one…a guinea pig!I came up with another fun display or diorama thing, with Fledge the winged horse and Digory when he’s in the walled garden. If you look closely you can see the witch hiding behind the tree with an apple in her hand, and the sleepy-looking bird in the tree. The cutouts look really cool in the bonsai tree, but the coolness doesn’t show up the in the photos! The lighting is so terrible today, a grey cold winter day…so photographing the tree felt impossible….these are the best photos I could get…
And this is what the gate at the walled garden said:A few more quotes from The Magician’s Nephew. Can you tell I’m having fun with this theme??
The Magician’s Nephew is the first book in the Chronicles of Narnia series by C. S. Lewis, and I’ve always thought that it’s my favorite. “It is a very important story because it shows how all the comings and goings between our own world and the land of Narnia first began.” (Though every time I start reading any book from the series, I think this one is my favorite!) Can you tell I’ve got Narnia on the brain? Let’s start at the very beginning….
When I first thought of having a Narnia theme around here, I thought: a display. Then I thought: baking. That’s how my brain works. How to display something edible with a theme. That’s what it’s all about, people!
So in today’s post I have our first display, for the first book, The Magician’s Nephew. The book starts out with two children named Polly and Digory exploring an old house, and accidentally ending up in Uncle Andrew’s study. He is a magician, or magician wanna-be and has supposedly found a way to travel to a different world. Or at least he thinks it’s possible, but has only tried it out on a guinea pig, who unfortunately can’t tell anything about his experiences in the other world! So Uncle Andrew needs someone else to try it out! But not himself, of course! He offers to let Polly have one of the lovely shiny yellow rings that are humming on a red wooden tray on his desk….
I love the image of the red wooden tray with the shiny green and yellow rings! I knew that it had to be a part of my display. I had already decided to start off with things that would remind me of Uncle Andrew’s study. I dug around in our basement and found some old-looking and even just large books. Some old candlesticks, an ancient globe, anything that looked old. (I wanted sealing wax and an old microscope, but didn’t have them on hand!) My old wooden “treasure chest” with safari animals on it was perfect, representing the secret box where Uncle Andrew first found the dust from another world, and the safari animals were perfect graphics for the animals who burst out of the ground in the new land of Narnia! There are a few other symbols in here that weren’t from the study, but just appeared in the rest of the book (like the golden apple, but more on that later!)
Back to the red tray….I thought a lot about it. How to do it? I didn’t want to buy anything for this project, (except the special plastic animals, in this case, the winged horse). A picture frame could work as a tray….yay, found one from an old school award. Next step: to paint. My son was happy to help me out with this project and painted the frame and a piece of cardboard red. After that, we added some wood-look lines and a few sprays of glimmery paint, then a bit of distressing with brown paint. I really really wanted to make handles for this tray, and spent a lot of brain power on it, but didn’t end up having the time. Assemble the frame without the glass, presto, a tray!
Next: the rings. That took a lot of thought, and it wasn’t till the last minute that I thought of making cookies. But how perfect (much better than another idea of cutting up paper rolls from toilet paper). Here are the cookies, step by step. Many of the photos were taken by my son, as those are my awkward-looking hands in the photos. For the cookies, I used the End-All for chocolate cookies recipe from Lilaloa, so yummmy, and melted Wilton candy melts for the icing.
Cut out small circles cookies. They are about 1 and 1/2 inch cookies.Melt up some black candy melts in a small baggie and snip off a corner. Outline 2 circles per cookie.(When I saw these photos I realized how strangely I hold the icing bags! ha! And don’t worry, that is fresh chocolate candy melt under my fingernail!)With yellow candy melts, snip off a bigger corner and fill in outlines that have already set. Then go for the green!Before the “icing” on each cookie had set, I added a small white line for a bit of a “shine” on one side of each ring. Then later when they were set and hardened, added a white asterisk to make it look like a sparkle. Can’t leave well enough alone, I wanted more shine. I painted on a bit of silver sparkle, too. It went faster than it sounds. Really.All that spiffing up and you can hardly notice…. ! Set out the rings in pairs of yellow and green on the red tray! We’re ready to travel to the Wood between the Worlds and on to Narnia…(My son was practicing some fancy photography techniques…) This is how Polly must have felt when she touched the yellow ring….“They were no bigger than ordinary rings, and no one could help noticing them because they were so bright. They were the most beautifully shiny little things you can imagine. If Polly had been a very little younger she would have wanted to put one in her mouth.” (I have always loved that description!)I think the “funnest” part about these ring cookies, was sending them to school in my kids’ lunches, then asking them if they had whisked off to Narnia during Math class!!! 😉
There are lots of easy things you can do to decorate your home for fall, autumn, Thanksgiving, all the fun October and November times! Look around to see what you have on hand, hidden away somewhere, like baskets and birdcages, then add some nature and raffia 🙂 Here are some of the things I came up with for this year….without really buying anything new except the hens and the moose….A few years ago I invested in a wicker cornucopia basket, so that always comes out of storage, to be filled with flowers or fruit for our Thanksgiving table. Started with some fake flowers, then added some small red lights, some dollar store grapes and free picked nature!I loved the green vine flower things that I found on one of my walks, they really dried nicely…Baskets stuffed with nature:
This next photo isn’t home made, but could be….little stuffed hens on a beaded cord….our newest Fall decor addition to hang by the window and by our chore chalkboards in the kitchen:Also in the kitchen, a little gnome who doesn’t want to freeze outside (he’s also afraid of being gnome-napped), an old apple basket and our avocado plant, also afraid of freezing….
And if you can’t find real pumpkins, make some chubby stuffed pumpkins, no sew! Tiny colored frames from Michaels can be filled with black cardstock, then written on with chalk for a chalkboard look, add a big-eyed owl…
Some table decor:
Fruit and veggies always make colorful decorations. This year’s splurge: a pomegranate! And how about some fresh cranberries floating with some apples stuffed with candles….this was a combination of ideas that I pinned on my Fall Ideas Pinterest board.My Guatemalan textiles always come out for fall….ok, they’re always out, all year around! And Pies are a great fall decor idea!! And they are good for so many things….
Pumpkin, a tradition.My first cherry pie and dollar store ceramic pumpkins.A very old painted Canadian flag made by one of my kids a long long time ago. Something else made by my kids: a clothespin wreath hanging on a chalkboard!My last DIY Fall Decor Idea: plant sunflower seeds in the spring and transfer them to your backyard for super Natural fall decor! 🙂 Doesn’t seem like ours bloomed early enough to get the seeds for eating, though…
Have a great rest-of-the-fall!! Looks like it could snow in a couple of days around here…..so soon I’ll be packing up and disassembling my fall decor…..Christmas is coming!!! 🙂